Saturday, August 9, 2008
To acknowledge the current intense heat, I thought to post a heat poem. Couldn't come up with one. And now I'm reflecting why there is not a lot of edifying art born out the experience of extreme temperatures. Off the top of my head, all I can come up with is the crossing the desert episode in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. The best nature poets seem to confine themselves to north of the 40th latitude where they roam misty wetlands in gumboots. In celebrated literature the focus is dire cold, as in To Build a Fire, Into Thin Air, and the Ur-Chronicle of subzero horror, The Worst Journey in the World. This Heat Art Deficit is odd, given that many more people live in the hot zones of civilization as the polar ones and that, without a doubt, heat is as lethal as cold. A couple of years ago I was hiking the Modesto Canyon in West Texas at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute in early June. We climbed down into the canyon around 10 a.m with water bottles. By the time we climbed back out around 11:30 a.m, the sun was high in the sky. The sun and the heat were brutal. We were only about a mile from the visitor center. On the way back, I had to stop and huddle under the pathetic shade of small shrubs. I was very afraid that I might not be able to get back. Nausea and dizziness ensued; the signs of heat stroke.
In the past few days I've found two dead whitewing doves on my driveway. No signs of cat violence: just dead birds. When I was turning my compost pile, I smelled the distinct odor of some decomposing mammal wafting my way.