Wednesday, August 17, 2011

dog days aren't over

There are so many amazing things about southern Louisiana. The list is endless-creole food, lavender twilights, golden haze, goes on an on. Unfortunately, there is a huge drawback-the stifling, killer, 100% humidity heat. We are all boiling like crawfish in a pot here, and it makes everyone indolent and irritable. Faulker wrote about the heat of the deep south, even personified it sometimes-many authors have-and indeed it is a prescence, alive in its insidious high noon attack and gentle in moonlit cicada evenings. Sadly, school has begun and the kiddos are bouncing off of one another like overcharged atoms colliding, and I can't seem to keep it cool enough to soothe their flaring summer tempers. Where is autumn already? I can't wait for the arctic breezes.
Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. I know holidays are the obvious choice, but the moment I step outside and feel a crisp morning breeze break through the burning heat. That moment is always so thrilling to me, I feel it in my toes. I tingle with delight, anticipation, and the same sepia toned reel runs through my head, as it has since I was a little girl: football, bonfires, pumpkins, Thanksgiving feasts, Charlie Brown specials,hot dogs at the superdome, my dad cooking huge pots of gumbo and stew to keep of the chill. Jackets, sweaters, caps. A feeling of freedom and the imminence of Christmas. It's a glow, a relief, and a deep breath of joy. Another autumn, with the endless possibilities cooler weather brings to the broiling swamps.
And another evocative autumn experience...the halls of my son's elementary school, which bring to mind so many autumns of my own childhood. A different town, a different place, but the smells and the sound are strangely the same. It was so bittersweet to be there, to be waiting for him while sitting in a tiny chair, to be meeting the eyes of so many other mothers, to be feeling like I was in a surreal window of time-seeing so clearly the transition from toddler to boy, knowing I've lived every day that came in between but still feeling as if something has slipped from my hand and passed me by. I never imagined I would feel quite so nostalgic and sentimental, those being emotions I don't regularly associate with progress and change in my life. I usually don't look back for fear of turning into a pillar of salt, and getting stuck in the interim. I move forward fearlessly. But this tiny human has changed all of my inner logistics, and I'm a soft-centered melting pool of emotion wathcing him charm everyone he meets and yelp excitedly at his new "cafeterium" (he said, all aglow, "mom, look! a BUFFET"!) I'm still laughing inside at his excitement.
We all want life to be smooth and seamless, when the truth is the mistakes and gaffes and strains really do produce amazing results. Sometimes even more beautiful for all their chaos and flash than the long worked for dreams and safeguarded hopes. It's easy to love what we planned for and hard to embrace the moments we are out of control--but spinning wildly and without one hand on the gears can be such a refreshing release of inertia and ego.
Summer had me in a daze, recovering from an insanely hectic few months. I unwound and found a place of deep solitude--when my son was away and my partner working long hours, I would breathe silence and stillness in like oxygen. Meditation and yoga became good friends, and for the first time since pregnancy I felt like I connected with every part of my body, down to my toes. The heat was almost sophorific, and it helped to press me into my deepest interiors, to lull me into the most profound serenity. The cathedrals inside were suffused with bright sunbeams, and I watched from the shadows, the warm light making patterns on my hidden soul. Now that time has passed-more quickly than imagined-and I am coming awake, the opposite of hibernation, post-processing all of the changes, ready for a fresh, crisp new beginning. Like the notebooks and pencils of my youth, the just bought supplies and books that held the promise of potential--I am ready to begin again, having passed through the fire and been re-born like a phoenix, alive in my new skin.