>hot

>Our summers get pretty hot here, and we’re not in the thick of it yet, but there have been signs that the heat is coming. I’ve been marking off the milestones that we’ve passed as summer has approached.
The first thing that happened was that the scorpions woke up. They sleep all winter, and I always turn them up while I’m digging in the garden, all curled up under a rock or in an underground hideout. Then, when the air loses its snap, they wake up and we begin to see them on the prowl. They turn up in the oddest places; not two weeks ago, I was transplanting a potted rose into the garden and I happened to look down to find a fat little black scorpion in the rocks that had been at the bottom of the pot and were now entangled in the roots of the plant; the other night as Ali and I quibbled over who would go back up the hill to the Brown House to get a DVD we had forgotten, I looked down and saw one crawling under his shorts on the floor. I’ve found them on garden hoses, in the kitchen sink, and at night they are often on the pathway.
Another sign of the weather is a bit odd, but reliable all the same. A friend of mine came back from a trip to the Caribbean with, among other things, a bottle of coconut oil. She did not have anything in mind for it, and when she offered it to me, I gladly accepted; I like to use it in my hair once in a while. It is solid and white when the weather is cool, but when the weather gets warmer, it is runny and clear. Around this time of year, I look at it often. We had a cooler week last week, cloudy and even a bit rainy, and it was white, but it is clear again today.
Last week’s rain was probably the last we will see for a while, since after June 15 it doesn’t really do to hope for rain. Until September 15, we are unlikely to even see many clouds in the sky, let alone enjoy the sweet reprieve of rain. From here on out, we will be watering most days, in the early hours of the morning before the sun clears the hills. And when it does, the final sign of summer begins — the cicadas. They have not started yet, but their incessant chanting is the true mark of deep summer. I hear one or two brave pioneers calling out once in a while, but to no avail. It will be a little while longer before they are out in force, and when they are we will go through our day in their rhythmic din from sunup to sundown.
It is a bit like preparing for a hard winter, anticipating the summer heat, and actually summer is a bit like a winter here. The plants stop growing once the temperatures get really high, and the great challenge is to get them big and strong enough to withstand the hottest days. Our winters are so mild, the garden only pauses for the briefest of moments, but in summer the plants are clearly struggling. I do not intend to wilt completely in the heat, however; when it is too hot to work in the garden, I will turn my attention to an alpaca fleece that I have that is waiting to be combed and spun into yarn (a task better suited to hot weather than it may sounds, since most of it can be done sitting down, or at least not moving around much), and I have plenty of reading to do as well. There are advantages to extreme weather, after all.

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