At about 4:30 p.m., the heat-break we'd all been waiting for flew into town, bearing with it the tornado siren's sweet scream and the weather forecasters' vague warnings: possibly some tornadic motion somewhere near Fredericktown, about thirty minutes northwest of here. Possibly a cloud mass starting to corkscrew. Certainly a mass of red over most of Knox County. No tornado warning yet--but enough that my dog friend and I went to the basement of my excellent friends' house and jumped and played down there for a little while, until the rain
left behind a lowered temperature, lowered enough that I sit here with the curtains blowing, and I can feel that the air coming in is not hot. Lowered enough that when my young friends and I ventured out for one last summer game of bocce--for soon I will be grading first papers and screening films and conducting class discussions; soon they will doing reading assignments and sitting at seminar tables; soon we will all be so busy that I fear bocce seems all too likely to become a promise for another time--we walked into a lawn of rising fog. I have never seen fog come to visit a field before, not like that. I've seen it once it's there. But I haven't walked right into it, met it as it's come, seen what has been dew suddenly assume a third dimension, rise into the air, hang palely in the last light. That lawn is magic; I decided this tonight, as I tracked back through the wet grass, having gone to point out where the pallino landed.
I don't know how much longer we'll have this new, cooler weather around, but the sky was red at sunset tonight, and so I am hopeful that tomorrow will be cool and clear enough to open up my house and clean it down in honor of a dear friend's first visit to Gambier. Tonight, it was cool enough that my excellent friends' dog frisked through his walk for the first time in days; we traveled an extra distance, simply so that we could both stretch our legs.
Today, I finally finished Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, where I discovered Annie Dillard using a word I'd just pulled from the OED last night, searching for (and, I think, finding) a better title for a poem I'm writing. Today, I also read Donald Hall's lovely and moving introduction to James Wright's complete poems. Today, I taught two people how to improvise a chicken sautée using freshly ground herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. They got right into the spirit: how about an orange pepper? how about an onion? how about some garlic? should we have angel hair pasta with it? (Answers: yes, yes, yes, and yes.) And one of them went on to make our dessert, his first pie. This was before the cat sat in my lap looking out at the sunset from under the porch table, while we ate our salads; this was before we ventured out into the fog for our last bocce throws. This was before I had to acknowledge, once again, that this strange and lovely summer is starting to end.
But o, o the larks of fall. This ending will be worth that beginning. To rub elbows and talk shop with poets, to watch the leaves brilliant out into reds and yellows again, to charge up for class again and again: life-blood stuff. Without which I would not be I.