Hibiscus, Whittier Neighborhood


The heat: fifty days over 90°, more to come. I’ve no more will to fight the weeds in the brief hours when working in the yard is bearable.

Skeleton stalks of iris and lily testify to their former glory.

Teachers write plans, visit their classrooms to assess what needs to be done, because on the first official day back, two days before students arrive, admin won’t give them time to do those things.

Japanese beetles in the roses

Japanese beetles make lace of leaves, devour hollyhocks and roses as they open, before they open, turn petals into blackened tatters.

Retired from teaching a dozen years, I nonetheless start waking at 5 a.m. again.

After breakfast I kill beetles. If I leave the safety of shade, glare sears my skin, a mist of sweat beads my brow, sponges my armpits.

Glories ready for their group shot

Considered weeds by some, morning glories and marigolds are the last bright spots in my yard.

BBQ in the park Saturday, bouncy castle squeals and amped base beat rattle my windows at 95°. Sunday bike races loop my street, loudspeaker announcing times at every lap. We abandon the attempt to work, sit on the porch as bikes whir past, visit with neighbors until heat drives us inside.

Beetles haven’t a taste for the hibiscuses blooming immaculately in a neighbor’s yard. Bred to survive winter, never native, now common, the hibiscus nevertheless evokes the Florida I left more than fifty years ago.

That moment when the upper edge of sun’s disk kisses the horizon ticks back a fraction a day, each day the sunrise later, sunset earlier, the blistering sun I close curtains to block. Days that darkened near nine are dim by 8:14, then 8:13, 8:12, savings that broker a break from sweltering in time to sleep.

Our second hottest month. When it ends, I’ll leave my house again.


After the rain

Postscript: because I composed this diatribe against heat over the last week, yesterday it rained and today it is raining steadily, quietly, leaves on the crabapple outside my window vibrating under rimshot drops. Because I wrote this, I had a lovely walk with K in rain-washed air at sixty-some degrees. Because I wrote this, today our temps won’t reach 70° nor are they likely to surpass 80° tomorrow. Writers have power. You’re welcome.

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7 Responses to August

  1. Bob Jaeger says:

    Beautiful photos, Pat. Hey, thanks for the rain. Nice and soggy over here, too. Just got back from a walk on which I actually carried my raincoat just in case.

  2. Jana says:

    Thank you!!!

  3. normando1 says:

    Thank you, mighty wielder of words, slashing like Red Sonja through the burning rays of the vengeful Sun-god. I hear that a long tentacle of a solar electric storm is headed our way tomorrow. Batten down the (electric tech) hatches!!

  4. C.M. Mayo says:

    Thanks for your lovely flower pix. The hibiscus! The morning glories!
    (Yes, power! )

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