As the dog star Sirius rises with the sun, we denizens of the Deep South settle into midsummer’s time of no time.
Hikers circle University and City Park lakes with packs on their backs and new boots on their feet. With trekking poles in either hand, they look like mutant water bugs.
The weather warms and the squads of student soldiers running the lakes fade into the wet air. The clear voices of coxswains in racing shells on the lakes disappear, too, until the fall.
Our neighborhood is convenient to the lakes and to the woods along Bayou Duplantier where children build treehouses and collect specimens in the sluggish, littered stream.
The other afternoon, I encountered a team of short scientists returning from a collecting mission. One of their number, a small boy, wore a dip net on his head.
I could hear his mother: “In the tub, NOW, and wash your hair.”
At the Carver Branch Library on Terrace Street, a preschool child named Kaci showed me her oversized picture book. I’d ridden my bicycle to the library to pick up Laurie Lee’s “Cider With Rosie,” a memoir of his childhood in the west of England which includes poetic recollections of summer.
This spring and summer, there must have been an explosion in the lizard population because they are everywhere. They dash across driveways, wrought-iron tables and fence tops. They watch, heads cocked, as the sun heats the grass and nodding flowers.
The day gives rise to budding entrepreneurs, boys and a few girls, who mow yards for money with the same mowers they stomp behind at home for free.
There is freedom in this mercenary lawn mowing. The businessman in shorts and T-shirt may choose his yards on the basis of size, the number of trees and bushes to mow around and trimming required.
We had a reel mower the first summer I hired out as a contract lawn man. The price of a gallon of gasoline was about 20 cents so I wasn’t saving much on expenses as I rammed the motorless mower through a client’s tall grass.
On the verge of heat stroke, I was rescued by the woman of the house who offered to pay me for the botched job if I’d stop. I borrowed a competitor’s power mower to finish the job and began saving for a power mower of my own.
Watching crime time on the local television evening news, I know many children in our city don’t get the kind of childhoods that sustain them later as adults.
We live in the same summer but in two very different cities.
There have been hot weather stories on the national news lately as the temperature climbs in the Midwest.
I knew it was a slow news day the other morning as I listened to a woman tell a national news show that it had been “very hot and humid” on her morning walk.
This breathless news came from a sidewalk in suburban Metairie.