I knew nothing of Sirius, Orion’s dog, when I climbed into my car after an afternoon meeting and thought dog days. If the stars are revealing themselves at sunrise, though it is the only time to get out there and move, I was unaware. I only knew that there was for a long time a kind of faith in altered weather. Spring into summer and it rained and rained and things grew tall and deep green. This was, the Austin people hinted, how it had once been here. Mild. Steamy. Shaded. But it was myth, the belief that we could return to another time when August didn’t scorch. Our fig tree is dangling its last leaves, the grass turned crisp. And maybe Homer had it right:
Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion’s Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.
August 12, 2015
I was awoken, to start with, by one phone after another blaring flash flood warnings at 6:15am. Rain, when the plans included a walk with a friend. But our breakfast was delightful, the highlight of a day that wasn’t big on highlights. Then jumpstarting a car. Cleaning mold off the car seats, swatting mosquitoes. Conflict. Cleaning out the fridge. Tightening the sun visor screws. Trying to make the internet router cooperate beneath the old chair. Returning the almond milk, then buying it back again when it’s clear they will throw it away. Droopy dinner and evening on the couch. And then, before bed, giving the counters a final wipe down, I knock a full container of blueberries into the black hole between the counter and stove. As I dug them out of the dusty dark, watching them roll beneath the stove that Chris lifted with a heave, I thought it was time to put Sunday this Sunday to rest.
June 14, 2015
It was a week of waters coming in, homes floating away, mud washing across the streets. We are woken in the middle of the night by thunder, then the human responses to thunder – cell phones sounding alarms, blaring messages of flood warnings. It could have been me. It could have been any of us off in those houses in Wimberley. I was shopping cabins on Airbnb only days early. And all of this writ small on my kitchen table: CSA tomatoes and a ladybug. (Earlier this week Julie announced a centipede in the radicchio, the sentence like a secret code.) The earth asserting itself, reminding us we are not separate, we cannot be separate. By morning the bug had crawled to Chris’s side of the table. He picked it up and carried it outside again.
May 28, 2015
It was roads becoming rivers, homes becoming boats, sky becoming midnight dark in the mid afternoon. It was the whole city in front of the tv watching Jim Spencer cover the weather. Tornados to the west, to the north, to the east. Cropping up. On the ground. Sweeping through. It was alarms going off in the studio and in the house. Johnson City, get in your safe place. Marble Falls, get in your safe place. Cedar Creek. Bastrop. LaGrange. Never before. And the rivers overflowed and downtown became a flood and dumpsters floated on Lamar. And one young guy in cowboy boots clung to a fence outside the football stadium and the whole city watched him being rescued in a boat. And Jim Spencer led us through. Don’t worry, he said. Put as many walls between you and the outside. Turn up your tv. You will be okay.
May 25, 2015
True, it was so balmy in Austin today that I took a walk during lunch and removed my jacket on the way back to let the sun warm my shoulders. Still, all day I was tuned to the weather as a blizzard — “crippling and historic” predicted Mayor de Blasio — spun toward New York City. B was on a plane from LAX headed straight into it. It was a work gig, already scheduled, and she didn’t want to risk missing it. So by 6am the texts were flying. We checked flight trackers, web sites that showed airports mostly closed. We wondered about the roads between JFK and Manhattan. We breathed a sigh when her flight landed. By nightfall the temps dropped in Austin and I sit before the fire, feet stretched toward the heat, laptop open, getting news. B is safely in her hotel near Grand Central. We wait to hear what bears down in the night.
January 26, 2015