My little old house is not air conditioned and this weekend was very hot. We have window units but they’re ugly and I don’t like the noise. Molly installed one in her room so if I get miserable, I can go in there and cool off. But I’m okay with heat most of the time and am content with the breeze of a ceiling and window fan. Besides, these scorchers make feel like I have permission to slow down. Yesterday I spent the whole day reading – something I never allow myself.
These hot days make me a more enthusiastic morning person. I always wake pretty early but rarely get up and into the world beyond a walk down the street with Rufus. But one day last week I was out early enough to take him for a longer walk along the river before work. I met the early morning scullers – few women my age and two men instead of the usual group of private school kids I see goofing around in the evenings. One of the osprey I’ve been watching since they moved onto the big industrial machine in the gravel pit, dove into the river and scored a fish. I stood and watched him deliver the flopping creature to the nest and then call to his family that breakfast was ready.
This morning Rufus got me up at the usual 5:30 hour with a bark from Molly’s air conditioned room. I took him for only a short walk, anxious to get to my plot in the community garden before the sun got too high. It’s a 5 minute drive on the highway with no traffic. Usually there are other gardeners either in the lower or top level plots but at that hour it was only me. The sun had yet to rise above the tree line. Perfect for weeding, fertilizing and harvesting the lettuce, the leaves breaking off with satisfying snaps. The crazy rains of last week followed by the heat were great for my plants. So gratifying after trying to do this at home for years with not enough light and too many greedy creatures.
My bag loaded with lettuce, a few peppers and exactly 3 cherry tomatoes, I drove to the beach to suss out whether I wanted to load up the kayak and get a paddle in before the Sunday crowds descended. No. Instead, I walked the almost empty length of it encountering other walkers – every single one greeting me warmly as if to welcome me to their morning parade all beating the heat and the crowds. And I thought (not for the first time) I should get up and do this every morning!
As I headed to the pier, a few fisherman were leaving. I asked one man pulling a cart loaded with his fishing gear behind him if he got breakfast. Just one, he said. And we wished each other a good day. I walked to Shady Beach (it is that and it’s called that) where you can rent a table. $5 for residents, $25 for non-residents. Some were already claimed with paper tablecloths weighed down by chafing dishes stacked and ready for what incredible food, I wondered. From past experience I conjured up the good food smells, sounds of music and laughter that would fill this space within a few hours.
Chairs in a circle set up for a party or maybe a religious service. I didn’t stick around to find out. I took the shady path back rather than walk along the beach and across the stretch of grass, there was a group of 5 older men talking loudly in Italian as they made their way along the sand, the joy of their friendship echoing across. I passed the volleyball court where a group cheered and jeered each other in an East Asian language I didn’t recognize. It wasn’t even 8 o’clock yet – how had they managed to muster the bodies and energy at this hour?
One man with a metal detector paced along a grassy knoll near the parking lot, searching for treasure. Further down the beach, another man was one bin ahead of the garbage truck behind him, dove in and rifled through for cans and bottles, lugging his black plastic bag.
I adore my rich and varied city on this early Sunday summer morning.