Kansas Summer

June in Kansas reminds you that, oh yeah, this place has the potential to get warmer. The ice of March is a long forgotten memory but these are the days of some actual heat. Dewy skin. You get together with your friends over beers and hover around a grill. Turning meat and vegetables while the kids run around in the green grass–shocked by the feeling of the sprinkler on pale skin.
The sunsets are treats to remind you of so many charming parts of this world. The sky will shift to shades of greens and yellow when she’s about to get stormy. She’ll tell you what she’s up to if you’re listening. We might be up all night dozing in and out with the weatherman we’ve known since we were children keeping us calm. He’s reminding us of all of the times he’s kept us safe. In the morning, the tornadoes will have spun all over the land without much warning–rarely hurting anyone but having done enough damage to let you know what they’re capable of.
Or maybe she’ll throw on a shocking fuschia gown in a deliberate, exquisite display of all that she is capable of. The light dances in the clouds as they collide and separate–her skirt will twirl and pivot until she spills behind the horizon, exhausted and spent. And we fall asleep after lives well lived. Errands run and walks taken and children played out in the yard until their energy is gone. Animals and lovers both will run and run without weariness and plop down on the couch butted up next to you in devotion.

melody1
Photo Courtesy Melody Wagler

By mid-July you’re getting your errands run before 9:00 am or after daybreak. Cookouts with friends have turned to in-home gatherings around platters of whatever is excessive in the garden. We find creative things to do with the dozens of zucchini the neighbor brought over. We eat fat, luscious tomatoes torn apart and sprinkled with salt and pepper. We dance in the sprinkler as means of survival instead of novelty and nostalgia. And since no one feels like feasting–the wine hits a little harder. We dance a little more languished. We smile a smile that spills out from our summer souls but we wonder how the pioneers made it through. How did my grandmother–who could vividly remember the first Model T that her family bought–make it through times like these? I heard her stories of the dust bowl days and I couldn’t believe it but July in Kansas reminds me that a few days could kill us if it wanted to–easily. She’s done it, before.
Sunsets are of little respite at the end of the longest days. The flare loses a little luster after she’s been screaming down your back all day. By nine, you’re just begging her to lie down like a toddler who needs everything at bedtime. Please, you’re asking her, just give me this relief. And in the night the temperature drops to the mid-90’s and you can’t believe this is actually helpful but you’ll take what you can get.
You’re staying as naked as possible for as long as possible. When you do manage to get into the shortest, most flowsome dress you own, you’ll have to change out of it as soon as you get home anyway, on account of the sweat causing it to cling to you and you can’t stand it. You’re going back and forth between wondering if a shower would be helpful or useless–it’s not like you’ll dry off any time in the next 30 days anyway. You’re slick and sour and carrying deodorant in your bag. You’ve stopped wearing makeup and you look better than ever before. Really, you do. Damn near radiant. Regardless, the lovers and the animals are going to keep their distance because if anything other than a cotton/ rayon blend touches this skin, we will all suffer.

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Photo Courtesy Melody Wagler

August arrives right when you’re certain this is how life will just be from now on. Right when you’re wondering how you’ll make it through, the man with the truck full of peaches that crossed the Colorado border just for you arrives. He parks at the busy intersection. You are pretty sure that you and your partner will be able to eat a whole box and $40 is not too much to ask at all. But you settle on half a box because you don’t want to be greedy.
You’ll go to work and dream of digging into a peach as soon as you get home. They’re so ripe that you can swear it’s sagging just a little bit when you hold it. You have to go outside and eat it in the shade lest you soak the floor, as well as yourself, with sticky juice. And you’re a mess. A sweaty, sticky, natural beauty, sitting under a tree, filled to overflowing at the enormous joy of life–licking up the juice that’s rolling down your arm because you refuse to waste a drop of that which is fueling you for another day in this Kansas summer. You’re a child and a woman all at once. Giddy and long suffering and patient through the heat.
And you see that sunset is back in her familiar glimmering gown and she’s going to be good to us again. And you know you’ll make it through. And this summer, like all the summers, will be gone one day. And one day, you’ll be pining for her familiar heat.

4 thoughts on “Kansas Summer

  1. Jamie Greer

    “Or maybe she’ll throw on a shocking fuschia gown in a deliberate, exquisite display of all that she is capable of. The light dances in the clouds as they collide and separate–her skirt will twirl and pivot until she spills behind the horizon, exhausted and spent.”

    SWOON.

    Gorgeous.

  2. I love this! I, too, always think of my ancestors’ suffering in the heat – how did they survive?? I would be very very dead. My great-grandma (who was more like a grandma) would always tell stories of the dust bowl and summer boiling heat and winter freezing cold. They were always so magical, far off, and yet I always thought it was so strange that she was young and yet old and had lived through the drastic change of times, even to something as seemingly small as an AC.

    Also: your writing here is perfection. More please?!

    1. Something about this new house? New life experiences? I don’t know, I don’t care… anyway, something is going on that is tapping into some deep, exciting parts of me. This is EXACTLY what I want to be writing. I hope to keep bringing it.

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