Wednesday, July 20, 2011

cool blue

Never a fan of summer, I am confident the reason I've few memories prior to age four is a result of the heat. Our house on 12th Street had an old swamp cooler that barely reached the bedrooms. On Elmwood, it was central air and my remembered life commenced.

We spent summers until I was 15 or 16 at an air-conditioner-free cabin on a lake at 99 Springs. The difference between western Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma is this: At 99 Springs, nights are cool and mornings are a pleasure. In Tulsa, the hellish heat of night can only be endured. It does not waver in intensity until the early morning hours, dropping briefly to the 80s before the blast furnace reappears with the first rays of sun.

My house A/C is faithful. We're comfortable and grateful inside. I lie around under the ceiling fan reading old magazines and whimpering. Invariably, summer is presented as a grand opportunity for Outdoor! Living! With! Family! And Friends! People are cooking out, resting on the open porch, taking lunch under the trees at 2 p.m.

Just as gardening books always seem to be written for northeastern gardeners (Grow Short Season Tomatoes rather than the desperately needed Kill Those @#%@#%@ Spider Mites), home and garden magazines focus on the joys of living in sane climates, those high-in-the-sky or on-the-globe places where 90 is a heat wave.

Bless your hearts, all you Yankees and mountain folks. Bless. Your. Hearts. Here we're just trying to survive, and daily I check the temperature in Yucatan, thinking of that front porch where the ocean breeze kicks up around noon, and the heat is somehow more tolerable than it is in this dry and dusty landlocked city. Maybe it's the view.

At night I go to the gym and swim. I'm not a good swimmer. Since the summer of '63, when I faked my ability to dog paddle and nearly drowned in Bogan Pool, I have managed to remain afloat, but never in a graceful way.

I care not at all. The pull of the water is irresistible. In that cool, blue world, the only sound comes from my kicking feet and my breath escaping the snorkel. Yes, it's true. I don my snorkel and mask and swim that tile pool, never lifting my head, cutting through the water as if I'm above a coral reef. The dark blue line leads me end to end, and I find absolute peace in the rhythm and the sounds and the softness of the water.

There's no heaven in Tulsa this time of year, except in that pool, late at night. There, I imagine I'm in the tropical waters I love. I escape this life completely. An hour back and forth and my mind empties of anything beyond the sensation of water on skin, of hands and feet propelling me forward.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

And being in the fog a lot, a warm evening in the garden sounds lovely! Being in the water, as you described it, sounds nice too. Hope it's over soon!

July 20, 2011 6:39 PM  
Blogger David said...

I was just driving home with barbeque and passed a bank. The sign blinked 7:02pm, and then 102. I have no doubt when I take Alex out for his last walk around 11 it won't be much better.

Enjoy the pool, I hope you're back to the ocean as soon as possible.

July 20, 2011 7:42 PM  
Blogger Marc Olson said...

It's interesting to hear more details about how you live there. Your evening swims sound like meditations. Although you'd rather be in Yucatán, I think you find a little slice of the same kind of peace you have on the beach here when you swim at night in Tulsa.

Being in an outdoor pool at night is one of my favorite things. I float on my back, ears under water to drown out the sounds, and watch the stars. It sounds a lot like what you do.

July 20, 2011 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Steve Fry said...

Just found your site for the first time, following your comment on Yucatan Living.

Counting the days until you trade the Oklahoma heat for some cool Gulf breezes and a cold refresco while friends enjoy their beer with you.

Send me an email
Steve

July 20, 2011 10:39 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

Chris, I know y'all have been cold. Bless your heart. I'd be pea green, but I've got my late night swims to save me.

David...yes, 7 pm and 102?? that's INSANE. Allegedly what doesn't kill us makes us stronger blah blah blah, but I'm betting this summer might do me in.

Marc...it is meditative. It's lovely. Your comment reminds me of other moments in other pools, and especially of looking up at the pitch black sky from the pool in our house on the beach. The stars are like diamonds, huge, and thick in the sky, and if there's a moon it's even more divine. It's heavenly, isn't it?

Steve...hey there, Mister!! Nice to see you here. I was happy to see you there. I'll catch up with you at Yucalandia.

July 21, 2011 7:18 PM  
Blogger Croft said...

Up here on the east coast of Vancouver Island, 80 is a heat wave! It is high 70's today... where's my hat?

August 06, 2011 4:45 PM  

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