It's been hot. Too hot. And there's nothing I can do about it. Of course, one can take solace in the fact that it's a "dry heat". But really? The only solution seems to be the solution we are already very familiar with having lived on The Ranch for four years. We get up early, do as much work as we can outside until we're dying and then we go inside where it's cool for the rest of the day. Then later, as the sun starts to go down, we come out again and do more work until it's too dark to see. Sometimes to extend my endurance I soak my shirt and head with water but that only serves to keep me going about 15 minutes longer and then my shirt is 100% dry. This system is kind of an inch worm approach to getting outdoor things done.
I am in awe of the field workers. I wouldn't last a minute out in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley. I wasn't born to the heat. As you drive along the highway you see billboards that advise the farm workers, "Agua. Sombra. Descanso." Which means "Water. Shade. Rest." They might be more accustomed but it's still dangerous and everyone knows it.
I grew up in central Iowa and when it got hot it was also humid, too. We didn't know anything about heat index at the time and we didn't have central air conditioning either. We didn't get central A/C until I was a teenager so I remember quite clearly how Mom would put a big fan in the hall way at night between the bedrooms to circulate air that sort of but not really helped to evaporate the sweat off our miserable sleepless bodies.
I don't know how my uncles and cousins did their farm work. They'd come in off the fields and take off their caps and their foreheads were white as snow against their darkly tanned faces. They would drink huge amounts of iced tea and lemonade my grandmother and great aunt would make. There were no air conditioned tractor cabs in those days.
We were out late in the evening the other day and the dusky air took me back in time in my mind. Being out that evening reminded me of the days back in Iowa when we would come out of the house in the evening to play or go for a walk or a swing on the porch. My grandmother, in particular, had a north facing porch the length of the house and a porch swing that we kids wore down until we almost broke it. On those sultry evenings the air was quiet and off high up in the trees we heard the drone of the cicada. The stillness of the air. The drone of the cicada. The dusky light. Swatting a mosquito from time to time.
My mom called them June bugs. I think she really knew the difference but we kids didn't and it didn't matter. You'd find a June bug that had shed its exo-skeleton and left it in the crook of two branches of the tree limbs. Fascinating stuff.
My Aunt J said: "I hated that June bugs would come in through holes in the window screens and would buzz around at night when I tried to read in bed before falling asleep. I would holler for Mom if I thought there was a chance that Mom would come and get rid of the thing. Mom usually said ”Turn out the light and it’ll go away." Or "just catch it and kill it yourself.” Ugh! I would usually kill it because I didn’t trust that it would politely leave if I just turned off the light. The cicadas came at night in August. We always knew summer was going to end in another month or so when we heard them start up.
My mom said she listened to them at night and that their buzzing was hypnotic in a way. Later when she learned a meditation technique she said listening to cicadas buzz was similar to meditation. The buzz of the cicada was like a mantra that helped her transcend the world and go to a peaceful place in her mind.