her nascent jewels,
twists the aging vines
and smiles sweet content:
snailseed brilliant in red;
peppervine’s glossy black twining;
purpled lantana, amethyst drupes
for the love of a season soon leaving.
Colleen was our hand-waver, the slightly obnoxious one who bounced in her seat, caught up in the throes of enthusiasm. “Me! Me, Miss Hudepohl. Call on me!”
On the other side of the room, shy Valerie dedicated herself to perfecting the role of a disappearing third-grader. Content to remain in the back row, she spent her days sinking lower and lower into her one-armed, wooden desk until she resembled a puddle of Silly Putty, ready to flow away beneath the door, down the hall, and out of our lives forever.
Neither a shrinker nor a hand-waver, I asked for and received a place in the front row of desks. Since our teacher spent most of her time distracted by hand-wavers or trying to draw out the shrinkers, I rarely was called on. When it was my turn, I’d squirm a bit, pretending not to have heard. Sometimes, I’d shake my head and shrug my shoulders in a gesture of casual detachment, as if to say, “No, I don’t have the answer, but you already knew that, so why bother?”
Even for those whose roots sink most deeply into the salty, seacoast soil, and whose lives blossom under the heat of a constant, coastal sun, summer brings ambivalence.
Eagerly anticipated through the long night of dormancy, desired for its warmth and coveted for its beauty, the Gulf Coast summer inevitably ends as a season of imprisonment.
With the rising of implacable heat and humidity, the pleasures of earlier, more temperate summer days begin slowly to devolve into a world of languid passivity. While a monotony of cicadas melds with the metallic hum of air conditioners, tendrils of lassitude twist their way into the heart’s smallest crevice, choking off energy and joy. (more…)