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THIS RED-HOT MOMENT
June 13, 2005
 
The cats have it right -- find something flat and lie down on it until evening, when it's bound to be at least a little cooler. Gypsy has staked her claim on the bathroom's cool tile floor. Noodle, not as experienced, has chosen the rug in our room. What's-Her-Name is outside under the picnic table.

I join Noodle in the bedroom and log a full two hours of oblivion. Q claims the couch downstairs and does the same. With a pang -- but only a slight one -- I think of friends in their offices or on the train, friends descending the subway stairs to the airless platform. It is not fair that I get to take a nap in the middle of the hot day and they do not. But, on the other hand, would my staying awake out here make it any better for them? No, it would not.

I alternate my naps with brief showers. I do not dry myself off -- I let the water evaporate on me and I am downright cool.

What shall we have for dinner? Q asks. Something cool, I reply immediately, and we settled on cold poached salmon with dill, cucumbers in yoghurt, sliced yellow squash (steamed just a bit) and strawberries for dessert.

The general store in our town was not air-conditioned -- nothing was, in those days. At the front of the store there was a large red chest cooler for soft drinks -- icy water, the coldest water I'd ever encountered, kept them cold. We'd lift the metal lid and reach down into the water as far as we could, and we would stand there like that until the storekeeper told us to get out of there if we weren't going to buy something. We would mop our faces with the drops of water as we left the store. Then we would walk halfway home and sit on the little stone wall surrounding the storm drain, looking up at the sky through the lace that the leaves of the trees made.

Heat is only a moment. You can take care of it in that moment, and then you can take care of it in the next one. You can nap or splash your face with water or take a shower or be still and gaze at the blue sky through a tracery of leaves. Panic about how hot it is or how hot it's going to get makes you hotter, and you don't notice the tiny breeze that whispers over you now and then, don't notice how efficient a cooling mechanism your own sweat is, don't notice how cooling even a tepid glass of water is as it washes down your esophagus, softening it as it goes.

Beautiful things and hard things are the same in that respect: they are lived moment to moment. You can't bank them, nor can you evade them, by borrowing ahead on them -- they subsist only in their moments. And their moments all pass.

So enjoy the moment, or endure it. And note its brevity: for good or ill, you will not prolong it.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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