I’ve been researching inheritance issues, thinking of death and taxes all day, and I step out onto the porch to relax. At first I think the shimmering of the air has to do with my eyes adjusting from fine print to distance, but when it doesn’t go away I realize that steam is literally rising from the ground and creating a mist as it mingles with the August heat and humidity. Even Barney, the neighbors' generally extraverted and enthusiastic Schnauzer, can’t find the energy to come all the way across the yard to greet me, merely wagging his tail and nodding a bit as if in apology. The few coreopsis blooms droop on their stems, and the dogwood leaves hang limp and still. The rosebushes look like thorny limbs with a few yellow and brown insect-riddled leaves and matching dead blossoms. A sparrow lands on the porch, no more than three yards from me, and sits lazily despite the gentle rocking of my chair until the rattling of the doorknob above his head rouses him to reluctant and indignant flight. The heaviness of the atmosphere accurately reflects my mood.
Looking further, I see that a rim of light pink clouds circles the sky just above the hazy mountain tops, their pastel color reflected and enhanced in the baby crepe myrtle bravely raising its magenta flowers upwards, with a courageous daylily alongside it encouraging this rebellion against the heaviness and heat. The buzzing of locusts fills the air, reminding me of summer evenings long ago in Kansas, dodging croquet wickets on the lawn while chasing fireflies with my brother in the rapidly dimming light. The heat, the humidity, the numbing pages of depressing information, all fade in the sudden realization of beauty past and present, and I go back to my task with a lighter heart.