Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Unbearable Lightness of Summertime

I am greedy for summertime. Even in the midst of the hottest, most humid Southern day, when all desire seems tangled in the lushness of a grove of overrun Palmetto trees and magnolias set alive with the whine of afternoon cicadas I bicycle slowly by on the way to visit with ghosts wandering the fiery batteries of Ft. Moultrie, I am consumed with the inevitable - summer will come to an end. There is nothing I can do about this.

And so I throw myself into another summer. Or wish to, rather, when waking every morning to any day promising to be a really hot one. I want to feel baked concrete on the soles of my feet as I moreorless fall from the lounge chair into a heavily chlorinated pool. I sniff Coppertone like it was glue, high from the beach-as-a-child memory surge it powers in my nostalgia-ridden head.

I wish I was a painter so that I could paint the drops that rise up in my head that once rose up on the aqua-striped Tom Collins glasses with the little frayed wicker cozies around the bottom portion my grandfather would present to the guests, remarkable only for their dullness, who invariably stopped by the beachhouse late afternoons all through June, circa 1968. The country was on fire; Isle of Palms was not.

So I steal gardenias to fill the house with Eau De Blanche (DuBois), and to place in Ava's braids, from untended bushes laden with blossoms along Volberg Street in the city, no longer at the beach. This has been a prime year for gardenias; ignored, lovely shrubs of blooms just beckoning to be plundered, just like the purple, not blue, hydrangeas I covet from people's yards who never seem to gather them for themselves. Why not me.

So much wickedness just waiting to rise to the surface in summer, all in a state of air-conditioned arrestedness. I loath air conditioning. It forces Southerners to do way too much, to multi-task for instance. Southerners should never be forced to multi-task. That's not in our blood. What is in our blood is a desire to exist under huge rotating fans outdoors on porches near oceans, with mere ice-ridden glasses to cool our heated tendencies. We are hot blooded people. If only we could live that way.

3 comments:

doro said...

S.G.,
Baby Brother Jenks says he remembers visiting you in Charleston years ago, with his friend Max, and hanging out in your bathtub. We were all hanging out, taking turns in that old clawfoot tub in your falling down rental near the College of Knowledge, taking turns luxuriating in cold baths as the only way to survive the insufferable heat. Remember putting ice cubes in the cold water and chillin'? Works well with some gin and a good novel.
love, Dahsua

doro said...

About Gardenias:
They remind me of 10 or 11 year old girls---absolutely gorgeous, sensous, intoxicatiing blossoms, on leggy and unpruned stalks of greenery.

I carried a bouquet of only gardenias in my wedding. It was October so they came from South America somewhere.

love and flowers forever,
Dahsua

Grayson said...

I'd be reading an O'Conner short story in that cool tub, again. That or Vogue.

I think I want to, eventually, not right now, check outta this dimension whilst reading O'Conner on a raft in the Caribbean, with a g&t in one hand, a cig in my lips (alas I've quit, again)and gardenias all through my hair.

And the only thing I want/need for that all-important #2 wedding is a bunch of hand-picked gardenias. So it would have to be in June.

I've become an addict. Not to men/weddings, but to gardenias.