I am not sure why I ever really complain about my walks. Yes, the heat is horrible. I saw the Sheik today and he said, "Where you been? You okay?"
"Oh, just busy," I said. "I'm good. How about you?"
"I'm good," he said. "But this heat is killing me."
"Damn!" I said. "I know."
But as I said the other day, the heat does not generally kill us and there is something about walking in it and sweating through every pore and then coming home and splashing my face with cold water that is delicious. Perhaps that is why people do hot yoga.
And it is more than delicious, seeing the day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, season-by-season changing of the trees and bushes and wildflowers. The picture above is of dog fennel, which at this moment is like feathers on stalks. That soft and fine.
The beauty berry is coming on now. Soon those tiny berries will be the gorgeous mauve color that I adore so much.
The butterflies are out in abundance, darting from whatever tiny flower they can find to another. Most of the wildflowers are through blooming for now but there will be more as fall approaches. The sycamores are already turning color even as the swamp ferns are thick and green and luscious.
I walk past houses and trailers, a truck stop, through the cracked asphalt parking lot of an abandoned gas station, into the woods and down sandy paths where sometimes I see turtles, occasionally a rabbit, once or twice a fox, and rarely but magically, a deer or two.
Even when I do not see any critters, I know they are there in the shadows of the pines and palmettos, I see their trails leading from the paths into the deep woods. I imagine them walking there, picking their way delicately underneath new moons and full.
Even the parts of my walk where I go past places where people live are ever-changing, even if sometimes on a slow time-line. A house, long abandoned, is being fixed up and the yard cleared and I see my neighbors there, working. Their daughter is about to move into it and they told me that this had been Miss Ruby's house. Miss Ruby ran the store in Lloyd when I lived here back in the seventies. I had no idea she lived there. None at all. I am glad to see it coming back to life and when I walk past it now, I will always think of Miss Ruby and how kind she was to me when I was a young mother, how the beer cooler had a sign on it that said, "If you break a six-pack, I will break your arm."
Someone burned Miss Ruby's store a long time ago and she herself has been dead for at least ten years. The last time I saw her was not long after we moved into this house and she told me that she'd seen "something" here when she was a girl. Right here in this house.
She would not tell me what it was.
A mystery which I will never know the answer to.
The walls hold their secrets. Some of them now mine.
And so it goes. I wake up and feel the shudder of what may be a small bit of PTSD from the summer I went insane with anxiety. I go about my business and take the trash and take the walk, come home and it is almost shaken off and I am here now, this summer, where the air feels like it always feels in summer, where the crickets sound like they have always sounded this time in summer, where the light falls and the birds call as they always do in deep summer, and yet, it's okay.
I greet the coming-on beauty berries with affection every year, I sweat like a horse, I cool off in front of the fan, I drink ice water and sweep the porches, I wait for the hurricane lilies to begin to emerge. I know they will be coming soon and yet, just as with the pinecone lilies, the budding of the red passion flower, the flowering of the confederate rose, I am astounded anew every year and am more than grateful to be able to take these walks, to come and be surrounded by such a continuing renewal of life in its grand cycle.
I move and I rest. I thirst and I drink. I look and I see.
And it is good.