Midsummer ~ In Matagorda

Saharan Dust Shrouding Matagorda, Texas


oasis of light
a susurration of palms



The metallic drone of cicadas; desiccated and drooping crops; fish sinking toward cooler water even as rising temperatures slow life’s pace for body and mind: such is the arrival of midsummer on the Texas coast.

It’s a season suited for lighter fare, and so I’m offering a small series of images matched with poetry: tokens of a season I love.

Both the photo and haiku are mine.

Comments are welcome, always

88 thoughts on “Midsummer ~ In Matagorda

  1. I had to look up susurration. No palms here in Iowa.

    We do have susurration of corn leaves on a breezy day. They stop their whispers at night in exchange for quiet pops and noises as the stalks grow taller.

    Midsummer is a time of rapid growth with the rain and heat and humidity.

    1. There’s nothing more fun than listening to the corn grow. I’ve had plenty of friends who refused to believe it was possible, but, especially when conditions are right, it can be an amazement.

      It’s a good thing I looked up “susurration” myself. It takes a special kind of writer to be able to misspell a single word three different ways all at once, but I managed to pull it off. It’s correct, now, and I corrected it in your comment, too, as you probably pulled the spelling from mine. At least this time I caught it on my own, which hasn’t happened in the past!

      1. When you are down in bed on a hot summer night with all the windows open to your upstairs bedroom, all kinds of sounds are heightened. The growing corn is one of them.

        Sometimes the chickens got excited by a visit from a raccoon or possum. That could be followed by the loud report of a shotgun blast from dad. One night he searched around the chicken pen in the dark with flashlight in hand. Two shining eyes glowed atop a post. Boom!

        He came in to report the tom cat was dead, not the raccoon. Poor Old Tom. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

        1. Oh, dear. That’s one cat that didn’t come back. I suppose I shouldn’t be laughing, but… it happens.

          There’s a tale that circulated in our family for years about my mother drop-kicking a cat off the back porch. Strangely enough, my mother was the one who swore she did it, while her sister said she didn’t. Both agreed that the cat hit the ground running, and never was seen again.

          1. Psychologists call that “a one time learning experience”.

            I have noticed that country people tend to have a hard-nosed attitude toward animals. Sometimes it is mere cruelty, other times it is no more cruel or nonsensical than nature itself.

            1. I’ve had a few of those one-time learning experiences, myself. Luckily, none involved a shotgun or a drop-kick.

              As for attitudes toward animals, in a society where dogs get carried about in purses and cats go to nail salons, what seems like cruelty may be nothing more than a little salutary realism. The country people I’ve known have a lot of respect for animals, wild or domestic. It’s the people who accessorize with them, or get tired of the responsibiltiy of caring for them and abandon them, who seem more cruel.

    1. Thanks, Gary. “Susurration” is beautiful, and so are the words for the Saharan winds: “sirocco” and “harmattan.”

      Between the sunflowers, the yellow beach primrose, and the yellow skies, I felt as though I was in Van Gogh’s yellow world. The sun itself reminds me of ways you’ve portrayed it from time to time.

  2. Linda, many of our sunrises lately have produced a yellowish cast to the sky that’s positively spooky, It’s such a departure from the normal that it’s got me on edge a bit. And hearing from our weather-people that it’s due to wildfires burning across Canada doesn’t help much, though I guess some explanation is better than none!

    This is beautifully done — and I so love learning a new word! Susurration rolls across the tongue with such an interesting effect. Thank you for increasing my knowledge today!

    1. Smoke and dust can do strange things to the sky, especially at sunrise and sunset. We get smoke from time to time, mostly from agricultural fires; occasionally it comes from forest fires, or the burning of the wildlife refuges east of us.

      It took me a while to adjust to it when I first moved here in the 70s. In Iowa, a strangely-colored sky usually meant a storm was coming or going. Here? Not so much. What is interesting is that the yellow of a “Saharan sky” is different than the yellows I’ve seen before hurricanes. Before Hurricane Humberto, the whole sky looked like a lemon meringue pie in a tin pie plate — it was exactly those shades of yellow and gray.

      The word that susurration is derived from — susurrus, as in a “whispering, murmuring, or rustling” — is equally fine, and a great example of onomatopoeia.

      1. Hmm, susurrus. I like that one, too! Thanks for the added info, Linda. That’s exactly what I meant by saying the yellow skies feel spooky to me. They bode a storm, a BIG one, and we surely don’t need more rain for a while!

    1. Thanks so much for your complimentary words, Maureen. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and hope you’ll stop by again. You’re always welcome.


  3. Again, beautiful, both, but I had to look up two words. I never knew there was just the right word to describe the noise that leaves of any kind make in the wind. If I didn’t know better, I’d think my most recent fishing post about fish in the deep. cooler water and the sounds of the reeds along the shore just might have inspired you! However, my down-the-bayou-written renderings are much less eloquent than yours, dear friend.

    1. I think the truth is pretty simple, BW. We’re both inspired in different ways by the same world: bays, bayous and the Gulf, heat, humidity, alligators and alligator gar, grasses, sedges, and the lotus-walking gallinule.

      Now and then, we even share the same light. Look at this photo, taken during my visit to the Camp. I’m just sure it was taken off Little Caillou Road. Maybe Monegut. We were roaming pretty widely at the time. But it was sunset, and as pretty as could be.

      Now that I think of it, Camp DuLarge makes a pretty good caravansary, too.

      1. What a gorgeous photo! And yes, a pretty sunset for sure. Can’t tell you right off where that was, but you did venture far and wide, well, maybe more like long and narrow, since all roads follow the bayous!!!

  4. I had to look up susurration as well. Shockingly, Windows didn’t know the word either and suggested supersaturation. I added it to the dictionary and Windows Spell-correct is now just a tiny bit smarter…on this computer at least. My previous experience with Caravansary was my favorite Santana album…although with a slight difference in spelling. The opening cut…

    1. Spell-check may not have liked “susurration,” but it picked a pretty good alternative for a photographer who no doubt messes around with color saturation from time to time. I’m a little surprised it didn’t know the word. On the other hand, I’m not surprised at all. But we know it, and that’s what counts.

      I’ve always liked Santana: all the way back to “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman.” I wasn’t aware of the turn in his work represented by this album, but it’s interesting. I’ve just begun listening to him again since the release of his 2014 “Corazón.” It’s great, and the entire album is here.

      Still, when it comes to music, I don’t think anyone can beat this “Caravan.”

      1. Thanks! That was outstanding and a collaboration I was unaware of. I do know of both individually, of course.
        Spellcheck is a little on the weird side. My memory is never able to recall specific examples of most anything, but there have been a few typos that were quite obvious as to the correct spelling but somehow spell-check wouldn’t suggest the correct spelling and offered some choices that were not even close. OTOH, if I hadn’t made the typo then……

    1. You honestly can, Gallivanta. We used to go out into the fields at night to listen. I don’t remember ever hearing the sounds from sweet corn, but with field corn: yes.

      We used to try and watch the squash and watermelon vines grow, too. They weren’t noisy, but it always was a mystery to us how a vine could be two or three feet longer in the morning than it was the night before. It seemed we should have been able to see that, but we never did.

      The other great fun is watching night-blooming plants, like my Cereus cactus, open up. They’re so fast, it’s like watching a time-lapse video.

      Naure’s just wonderful.

  5. Nice hypnotic photo. Not quite like that in WI. Cicadas are certainly making wall to wall noise here, though. Working in heat doesn’t leave a lot of time or desire for resting in heat and my imagination has gone rather flat lately. Hot summer city life (such as it is) is wearing me down. Oh, when they come to “chip seal” the streets in my neighborhood then I really will be hard put to wax poetic.

    I like your lighter fare.

    1. That’s nicely put, Martha: “working in heat doesn’t leave a lot of time or desire for resting in heat.” And, what you say about your imagination going flat resonates. I’m working on a bit of a post about just that dynamic.

      There certainly is a reason shade-tree mechanics worked under their trees. I don’t have to tell you about the difference between grass and concrete when it comes to heat retention. People sometimes wonder why small thunderstorms will rise up over Houston proper, but nowhere else. Can you say, “heat island”?

      I wasn’t familiar with the phrase “chip sealing,” but once I looked it up, I recognized the process. I think I’m pretty happy not to be working with hot asphalt in the summer.

      I’m glad you like the offering, too. Next up is a cloud photo — one of the most unusual I’ve seen.

  6. I rather like the phrase “oasis of light.” In a way it sort of upends how we think of oases (in the desert), where folk look for solace from light’s oppressive constancy. But sometimes light too is an oasis, it seems. The light of the photo is so inviting, as are the words of the haiku.

    1. That oasis of light is a bit of a contradiction, isn’t it? This time of year, the oppressiveness of light (and thus heat) is real. On the other hand, we do talk about light pooling, as under a street lamp, or streaming into a room. It’s interesting how many water metaphors we use for light.

      I was astonished by the photos from that sunset.Some were fairly pedestrian, but there’s one that’s only the sky and a line of palm trees that I really like. Still, I think the sun’s such an important element, I wanted to use a photo here that included it.

      Clearly, all that writing about camels affected my imagination!

  7. Simply exquisite with new words to roll off my tongue (and look up like everyone else) and gorgeous image to accompany your Haiku. You make the heat sound almost palatable. Is there a favored cooling drink for this season?

    1. The heat was palatable that night, and you can see the reason in the photo. Though I’m facing west, look at the palm fronds. There’s a good, stiff breeze from the Gulf of Mexico blowing from left to right — you can see it in the palms. Without that breeze, it wouldn’t have been so nice.

      As for favored drinks, I’d have to list water, water, and then (just for variety), more water. Sometimes, I go for homemade lemonade. If I’m sitting around on a deck watching the sun go down or having an apéritif before dinner, I prefer either Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy or a Campari and soda. But I still have my morning coffee — dehydration be darned!

      1. Ah, the Gulf breezes. I should have known that because much of our weather blows in from the Gulf! Our winds vary throughout the day from dead calm to nasty gusts. Rarely a gentle breeze.

        I’m with you on drinking water, water, water. I rarely drink anything else – the occasional gin & tonic in summer or red wine in winter. Plus, of course, my morning BOLD coffee.

  8. Linda, first of all I must compliment you on the gorgeous photo. It’s really excellent. And, I Iearned a new word- susurration. I must remember that.

    I grew up on a farm and we had corn fields next to the house. Never once did I hear the corn growing but maybe the conditions have to be right for that. Loved your lovely words describing summer on the coast.

    1. It was a splendid sunset, Yvonne, and entirely unexpected. I thought there might be a little color, but when the sky started turning that almost metallic gold, there was nothing for it but to grab the camera. It didn’t last long, but it lasted long enough. There are some very pretty days and nights this time of year.

      Since the conversation’s started here about the corn, I’ve found myself wondering if midwestern corn was more prone to noise-making. We had such rich loam — six feet deep in places — that if good rain and hot days combined in just the right way, everything was in place for fast growing. I wonder, too, about today’s corn. With all of the hybrids, the different ways of planting, and the pressures on the land, maybe corn doesn’t talk any more. I hope that’s wrong. I’m not at all in favor of silencing the corn.

    1. I smiled at your use of the word “sea,” Shimon. It’s a reminder of how geography shapes our language. Here in Texas, we talk about the Gulf — the Gulf of Mexico — because, of course, we have no sea. On the other hand, the variety of seaweed that piles up on our beaches is called Sargassum, and it comes from the Sargasso Sea. So, we have that connection.

      But call it the Gulf, the sea, or the ocean, you’re right: the breezes that come from the water do bring refreshment. We’re all glad for it.

  9. Everything in this post almost a poetry… Fascinated me your writing… I read them all aloud, and there is amazing poetical sound… Especially when you say, “…Texas coast.” and also …”tokens of a season I love.”

    Another hit point about this word “susurration”… I haven’t known and heard before… but when I searched fascinated me, “a whispering sound”… This is the richness of a language. How much I want to learn more this language… Thank you dear Linda, you pictured us such a beautiful view into the words, as if I was there too… Have a nice day and week, and stay in cool places. Love, nia

    1. It is different, hearing words spoken aloud. It makes me happy that you would do that, Nia. And, it makes me very happy that you found some of the lines and phrases poetic. It’s interesting to hear the reaction of someone whose first language isn’t English. Sometimes, you point out things in my writing that I would miss — like the fact that you found the phrase “Texas coast” poetic.

      I began using the word “susurration” only a couple of years ago.It’s good for describing so many things: grasses, wind, a spinning wheel. We all experience things like “whispering grasses.” It’s good to have words to describe them.

      I’m so glad you found this bit of my world beautiful. Thank you for sharing it on your blog, too. That’s very kind of you!

      ~ Linda

      1. You are welcome dear Linda. I always try to read aloud what I love to read. Your writing is one of them. And the end of the sentence, this Texas coast, really stands amazing and also the other end of the sentence too… There is a soft connection in poetical sound… Once I was writing poems and I don’t know how happened but they were liked… Especially in second language and also not being very well… but it was almost about the sound in my mind I think… Anyway, I enjoy to read you dear Linda, Once again Thank you, you share the beauties of your world, have a nice day, love, nia

        1. Maybe one day you can share some of your poems. I think they would be as beautiful as your photos and needle arts.

          And I hope your problems with the connection is resolved quickly. I suppose the only comfort might be in knowing it’s not your computer, and that others are having the same problem. Of course, it has to be disheartening that it’s happening in the first place. Enough said about that, perhaps!

    1. Now it’s your turn to enlighten me, Becca. I’d never heard of Haibun,, but I really enjoyed reading about the form: especially finding it described as “a narrative of epiphany.”

      And while “ah-ha!” moments are great, those “ahhhhh” moments can be even more precious.

  10. Linda, what a wonderful photo and writing. It is just so different for me from where we are, so exotic looking. So different, and yet similar, in the lazy heat waves we have in the Illinois forests and prairies, and cicadas loud high up in the trees. I love this feeling how the excitement of spring (at least here, after a long sleepy winter) builds and culminates into summer, and everything slows in the humid heat of dog days, we hide, just like those fish looking for cooler water, deeper and deeper… Seems like the mind and body slows in quiet siestas. Until it all passes and the coolness and freshness of the fall hits, full of its own fruit, some additional energy bursts for the preparations for winter. Thank you for sharing!!

    1. This does have an exotic feel to it, Bee. If I didn’t know where it was taken, and someone asked me what part of Texas it represented, I surely would have said farther south — Corpus Christi, or even the Rio Grande Valley — rather than the middle coast.

      But there are similarities here to your part of the world. I saw my first mirages on the blacktop roads of Iowa, when the heat shimmered up in waves that made us certain there was water on the road.

      Of course there were the cicadas, and there was another kind of susurrus. Do you remember the old-fashioned, three or four-armed lawn sprinklers? As they turned, the made the most comforting sound in the world — if you could hear it over the squealing kids running through the water. Youtube never disappoints. Here’s a video of a vintage sprinkler where you actually can hear the susurration. (If I use these words enough, I’ll learn how to spell them!)

      Maybe you could gather your kids around a sprinkler and have them lead a cheer: “Two, four, six, eight — everyone su-susurrate!”

  11. We deal in words every day and I remember looking up “susurration” for some reason awhile ago and filing it away. Now I’m bothered because I can’t remember why I needed it. It would be difficult to fit into a conversation, but you did it beautifully in your haiku. The photo comes to life beside your words. It would make a lovely painting.

    1. Kayti, is there any chance you might have bumped into it here? I did a search, and found I used the word in two separate blog posts last year: the latest in November. Maybe that was it.

      You’re right that it’s not a word often used in casual conversations, but on the other hand, there could be a susurration of conversation in church, or an art gallery — any place where whispers are in order.

      It is interesting how that “whole bigger than the sum of its parts” business comes into play when words and images are involved. Just slapping a quotation on a pretty photo of the mountains may or may not do it, but words evoked by a particular image, or an image especially selected to complement words, can be quite effective.

      I agree that it would make a nice painting. And I smiled this morning when I saw the painting Gary Myers posted on his site today. I felt as though I’d seen that sun before.

      1. When I read you reply I realized it must have been from something you wrote.
        BTW the “saffron curry sky” from Cheri is sadly becoming a familiar sight above all the wildfires raging here in California, beautiful as it may be.

        1. Wildfires are scary. Just a couple of days ago I went back and looked at the photos Tandi posted during that time when they had such surreal skies from the fires and storms. One thing I hope is that they get the…people… who have been interfering with water drops by flying their drones in the area. It’s not cute, and it’s not funny.

    1. Even out in the middle of America’s fly-over country, there are secrets waiting to be revealed! Now you know about growing corn, just as I’ve learned about growing hedgehogs. Who knows what comes next?

      The photo does have a little “something,” doesn’t it? Part of it’s the color, of course, but it’s always amazing when there’s enough fog, smoke, or dust in the air to make it possible to capture the sun itself. Saharan dust is just a little more special.

      Thanks for your kind words.

    1. Well, look at you — sneaking that haiku in right under my nose. Very clever! They’re such fun; I really enjoy working with them from time to time. And, as you just proved, they don’t have to be about sunsets or flowers or frogs in a pond. They can have anything in the world as their content.

      Now there’s a thought. Instead of the standard political debates this year, maybe we should have Presidential candidates write haiku. I’d tune in for that!

      I’m so glad you stopped by — hope all is well out your way.

  12. I love the photo; it is so perfectly balanced with palm fronds framing the descending sun! Perfectly summer!! The haiku is delicious!! And with your words I hear the music of the cicadas.

    I remember when I first got started with digital photography and with my first camera I took a sunrise picture with some shrimp boats. The sky was all peachy and everything and I sent it to my photog/mentor friend who informed me that the color was due to pollution. That thought set me back, but the color was wonderful. So your Sahara Dust reminded me of that comment and how sunlight against particles in the air will cause lovely effects. Sahara Dust here in Florida will produce fire in the sky too and it is just a painterly gift really!!

    1. Judy, I’m always amazed by how quickly the sun disappears once it gets close to the horizon. I had to do a good bit of moving around to find a decent shot, and I had to move fast. I would have been happier had there been no fronds in front of the sun, but perfection’s hard to come by.

      Sky colors fascinate me.When I was in the Keys, I always was amused by people heading to places like Mallory Square to watch the sun go down — but I was right there with them. If we live another 20 years, we’ve got only 7300 sunsets left, give or take. We’d better be paying attention!

      The opposite side of the coin, of course, are our blue skies after a strong winter frontal passage. They’re such a deep, pure blue, it’s almost heart-breaking. It will be a while before we see those again.

      We not only have our cicadas, now. The nighthawks are back, and their cries are wonderful. Do you have them in Florida? I hope so. They’re one of my favorite nightbirds. Here’s a great video by the Cornell folks of their calling and diving. Beautiful photography, too.

      1. That is sooo true!! Seems like forever when you wait for the sun to descend, then once it does its very fast and the light is constantly changing. Same with the moon, fast as it first rises then slow once its high enough. I have a few oblong moon attempts to show how fast!! And I totally understand the framing and trying to stand in just the right place. Do I ever. But nature has her way whether its palm fronts impinging on your golden orb or branches in the way of the perfect bird shot or if you are a sailor no wind when you wait for it!! Big Sigh!!

        I’ll check out the night hawks too!! Thanks for the courtesy of the link.

        1. Your oblong moon made me laugh — and then do a search for “oblong moon.” My goodness, there’s a lot of misinformation on the interwebz. It’s good to be reminded of that from time to time.

          As strange as it might seem, I thought about you yesterday when I was dealing with two wasp nests in the ficus tree on my patio. When there was one small nest, I was willing to live and let live, but two constantly enlarging nests were too much. I was tired of dodging wasps every time I went outdoors.

          So, it was time for the wasp spray, but getting a clear shot at the nests was relatively difficult because of the density of the foliage. That’s the point where I thought about you, trying to get those nice, clear shots of perching birds, nests, and so on. What patience you must have!

    1. What’s interesting is that it wasn’t nearly as hot as it appears. I always forget that beach sand cools much more quickly than concrete as the sun begins to set, until I experience it again. There’s even quite a difference between wooden docks and the fancy new ones made of concrete. A landscaper I know says a stone patio always should be shaded, so it doesn’t gather and hold heat. Whether it would make that much difference, I’m not sure, but it’s an interesting thought.

  13. A beautiful photo paired with a perfect haiku—what a grand way to celebrate mid-summer in Texas. Enjoy the warmth, and think of us in the southern hemisphere shivering through our late winter. I’ll choose the heat any day.

    1. I do prefer warmth to cold, Mary, but we’ve moved into gawdawful hot, and it’s not much fun. I try not to grump, since I did choose outside work, but it’s hard not to long for some days cooler than 36C.

      Still, there is beauty to be found. I’m glad you like the pairing. It’s nice to be able to capture and hold moments like this.

  14. This reminds me of the summers of my childhood, especially the susurration, because we had a banyan tree near our home, that whispered, I kid you not.

    1. So interesting, those banyan trees. I’ve heard the phrase forever, of course, and had a vague idea of what they look like, but I just read the wiki and found that your banyan and the fig trees I picked fruit from this year are in the same family. Do you suppose they whisper to one another across the miles, like we bloggers do?

    1. It’s a mystery to me, WOL, that I’ve never found the practice of writing “small stones” very appealing. The closest I came was the year I recorded my first observation of the morning in 140 characters through the season of Lent. I didn’t tweet them; I just used the number as an arbitrary limit. I’m not even sure any of them were posted here. I think I still was posting elsewhere at the time.

      Clearly, it’s useful as a way of developing descriptive powers. I especially liked your “treeshore.” That’s as evocative as it gets.
      I need to start following your other blogs, so I’ll know if you get inspired to start writing them again.

  15. I learned a new word. :)
    The Dog days. There is pleasure to be found in them too, even if we must be more mindful to find it.

    1. Some days, it can take a lot of mindfulness. Other days, I don’t even try. I set my mind on something else and do my best to distract myself. Sometimes it works.

      I love that I offered you a new word, Bill. Finding a five-syllable word for a haiku is pure gold.

    1. I’m glad you like it, FeyGirl. I imagine it’s a word you could find good use for in your world. There’s a lot of susurrating going on out there in the midst of the grasses, the birds, and the waters. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to be very, very quiet to hear it, but there’s nothing wrong with that!

    1. Every time we learn a new word, we enlarge our world just a bit. I’m so glad you found a new one here — be sure to use it now, so it really becomes “yours.”

      Thank you for the kind words, and thanks for stopping by. You’re always welcome here.


    1. “Sweet thoughts” certainly are different from “a gentle whisper.” I smiled to see the spelling of “sussurro.” Maybe my inner Italian takes over when I try to spell words like “susurration.” It’s funny that the person who did the translation also came up with “carress.”

      The aria’s lovely, and I’m glad to have the aria database in my bookmarks now. I know so little about opera, and I certainly didn’t know this one. I thought it was interesting that the most current Met production placed it in the 1940s, and that the location of the fourth act was described as “a desolate location in the New World…a vast desert near the outskirts of New Orleans.” I’d love to see that production. It sounds like a cross between Puccini and Tennessee Williams.

      1. The word goes back to Latin susurrus, which meant ‘whisper’ and was created to sound like the thing it represents. The reason Italian spells it with the ss in the middle is that in that language (and in French) a single s between vowels is pronounced z, so an ss is required in the spelling to preserve the s sound. People whisper with s sounds but not z sounds.

        Puccini chose exotic locales for several of his operas, including two in America. The Girl of the Golden West takes place in the Wild West. In Manon Lescaut the main couple, who are from France a couple of centuries ago, end up dying in the swamps (desolate, yes, but not really a desert) of Louisiana. If Puccini had lived longer he might have done something with Tennessee Williams.

    1. Some words do shine, don’t they? After Hurricane Ike, Galveston included large numbers of palms in their replanting projects. The palms not only gave the city a more tropical appearance visually, they whisper wonderful secrets in any sort of wind.

    1. Thanks, Otto. People often assume I find a photo to illustrate a poem, but generally it happens the opposite way. A photo catches my attention, or one I particularly like seems to call for words — and then the process begins.

      One of the most well-known books about Liberia is called ‘Red Dust on the Green Leaves.” We experienced Saharan winds there, too, but it stirred up the laterite, and gave quite a different effect: red, rather than golden.

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