Wednesday, July 30, 2008


A while back, I was writing to a professor friend who travels an awful lot, speaking all over the world. Because he travels so much, I knew he would understand when I said, "It's that time of day when in any civilized country things would be shut down and a person could take a nap if they wanted to." Or something like that. And he understood completely as he was soon to go to a mediterranean country where that would be just the case.

Just in case you don't know what I'm talking about, in most countries around the Mediterranean, places of business shut down during the middle part of the day and open again in the evening. This is "siesta" time, go home for a real lunch time, get in out of the heat time, give yourself a break time.

Especially as research is showing more and more the value of a nap and the reality that our brains and bodies need that rest in the middle of the day--that productivity actually increases when workplaces incorporate a napping (or at least resting) policy--I think it really is very uncivilized of us not to recognize this and do something about it.

I'm using the definition of "civil" as "of, relating to, or befitting a citizen or citizens." Working through the day without a real stop is not related to citizens as much as it's related to greed and inflexibility. And it certainly doesn't befit us (or benefit us) to force ourselves to continue working when the brain is crying out for a break. It's no different from skipping a meal in order to keep working longer, in my opinion.

Lately I'm feeling that it is rather uncivilized of us in America, at least here in the South, not to shut down for a longer while during these awful hot days.

I figure the earliest settlers in Memphis must have arrived in early October, and by the time June came, they had already invested so much in living here that it was too late to change their mind. Otherwise no one would ever decide to build a city here where it gets over 100 AND the humidity reaches into the 90+ percent range.

I may be part Cherokee and part Choctaw, but my heat tolerance genes seem to have all come down from the English and Scottish ancestors. These days I can hardly stand to walk from the front door to the car. I am taking my lunch to work every day--I who so dearly value my lunch time away from the office--just to avoid having to walk out, get in the hot car, and then get out again to go somewhere to eat.

I find it hard to focus after 10am. I feel drained when I get home after work. I feel starved for sunlight and the energy it usually provides. The heat drains more energy than the light gives, I think.

Someone told me at church tonight that it's supposed to get down into the 70's tonight. I had this vision of waking up at 4am just to go out and walk around a bit. I'm not going to set an alarm to do it, but if I do wake during the night, I just might step out to feel cooler air for a change.

I feel sorry for my surprise lilies that have popped up and are already starting to turn brown because the watering we do is not enough.

I feel sorry for the dogs when I leave in the morning and know they will spend the day outside. And little Paolo comes in and after a drink often plops down right over the a.c. vent in the living room.

I think of people living without air conditioning. I pray for them. I wonder what on earth can be done for them. No one should have to live here without it, and people die most summers from the heat (weakened by old age, usually.)

So, I don't know why those early people decided to settle here. But since they did, I wish we could be like the Mediterranean people and just close up the house and disappear for a few weeks to a house by the sea, with breezes and water to jump into. And no work to do, because who can do any decent work feeling like this, anyway?

That's my summer lament for this year. I don't know when I'll get back to blog. I'm going out of town again soon (to another hot place with poor cooling systems...I'm going to take a fan with me!), and all my creative juices are hiding out until it cools off a bit and they can risk flowing without fear of being fried, I guess.

I read this recently, from another blog: "Someone once said that the misery of a heat wave is something that can't really be quantified, it's only endured."

So if I don't write for a while, know that I'm working hard enduring the heat. For sure I'll be back after the heat wave known as summer in Memphis passes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Second Look

I've written before that instead of a curtain, I have tissue paper on the window where my prayer desk sits. It's a really nice effect, plenty of light comes through with complete privacy. But seven years have taken their toll.

Which meant one day I noticed this:

And then sat up and looked from a different angle and saw this:

My neighbor's coneflowers, which I would never have noticed, except for the rip in the paper. It's so much fun looking through the hole now that I can't convince myself to replace the paper....

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Look Hard

We drove through a powerful storm today. All before us was thick and dark, and rain began falling in torrents.

I had been taking pictures earlier, and almost put the camera away, thinking it was so dark there was no longer any point in having it out.

Then I looked south. And if you enlarge the photo and look hard enough, almost right in the center and down toward the right, you should be able to see a rainbow.

A rainbow. Not after the storm, but right in the thick of it. It was amazing. Drazen saw it, too, so I know I didn't imagine it, even though it was very hard to see.

So many times we have to really peer through the darkness to see the beauty. But it's there for those who look hard enough. And even for those who are about to give up.

Look up. Look into the storm. Look hard. It's worth it.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Tuscany Talk

Recently I was talking with someone about my recent trip to Europe. He asked for the highlights, and I told him about the day spent visiting Strove.

This friend has not been to Italy, but he did see the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. He said, "From what I've seen of that area, it seems like it's a very soothing sort of landscape, a soothing place to be."

Soothing. I had never thought of Tuscany that way. But I think he's right, and told him so. The gentleness of the hills, the orderliness of nature after so many centuries of people and nature sharing life together. The way the curves of hills and lines of trees balance each other. There is a balance, a harmony.

Soothing. Maybe that's part of why I love it so much, because I need soothing. I don't know for sure, but it makes sense.

(It's July 4, I have a three days in a row off work. I'll try to post some more pictures and get this trip documented at last!)