Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reya and Goliath

Code Orange air pollution today negates all that follows. Damn!

Summer has arrived in Washington DC with a big ole hot, humid thud. Spring was perfect, but I don't feel sad to see it slip away. Long gone are the tulips, daffodils and blooming trees. Whatever blooms from now on has to be tough - or else. The mad orgy of pollen is done. I'm good with that, I really am.

Summer here in the swamp is enormous, monumental. Summer in DC is hard-core. As a person who really does not do well in high humidity and heat, the fact that I enjoy summer in DC is ironic - or at least paradoxical. But it's true: I love the intensity of summer here so much. It just doesn't quit; a quality I admire in people, animals and even the weather. I can relate to intensity because it's a part of my nature, too.

Engaging with a DC summer takes skill and finesse. I would never, not ever, try to pretend it isn't too hot, I would never try to do all the things I do during the rest of year. That would simply be ridiculous. But neither do I resign myself to hiding inside air conditioned spaces at all times. How sad would that be?

Part of my strategy around living well in summertime is practical: I don't cook much, I just eat salads, mostly. I wear clothes that I don't mind sweating through. I take at least two showers a day, and I spend a lot more time on my bike than on foot because as long as the bike is moving, there will always be a breeze. Of course when I stop riding, the rush of heat is rather spectacular, but that's why I put my water bottle into the freezer between bike rides, so I always have ice cold water at the ready. I drink the water, but I'm also not averse to pouring it on my head. Ice water is my sling shot, the secret weapon I use when engaging with our Goliath-like summer heat.

To get through a summer in DC, one must let go of the urge to look good. One must understand that it's not possible to always be as fresh as a daisy; it's not going to be like that. I think of that line from Jolie Holland's song "Black Stars," The fallen glory of my ego is laid at the feet of our purposes. Oh yeah. I might look like hell, but so what? The fallen glory of my ego serves my need to get out there, even on the hottest days.

I enjoy tilting against the weather, but not too much. If I get too stupid, then it's not fun anymore. When it's time to get out of the sun and heat, I seek refuge in movie theaters, cafes, and Smithsonian museums. Yesterday at mid-day, for instance, I went to see the Gauguin exhibit again. I was actually slightly chilly by the time I left. The wall of heat and light slapped me hard when I finally emerged. What a rush!

Summer's fun in Washington DC. Yay summer. Welcome!!

Inside the East Wing of the National Gallery.


ellen abbott said...

you pretty much described summer here. and how I live in/with it.

Nancy said...

Well it is still winter here. It snowed a few inches at Tahoe last weekend - melted mostly the next day, but still! It is June for crying out loud! Okay, so I can live through you and feel the heat of summer. I do like your ideas for keeping cool - the bike is most excellent. It brings back memories of being a kid and feeling that cool breeze on hot, sweaty, faces.

Reya Mellicker said...

Snow?? Still??? Wow. What a winter for you guys.

Riding a bike is easier in the heat because you can COAST.

Whitney Lee said...

I've found myself under a throw when I sit down at night because 75 seems so cold in comparison to outside. I'm just trying to keep the kids inside during the worst of it and find a decent time of day to walk the dog. Ugh.

I learned at an early age that it doesn't matter if Southern women are supposed to glisten; come summer, I Sweat!

Reya Mellicker said...

Ha! Glisten, eh? Oh yeah I glisten alright. Holy cow.

Elizabeth said...

Sounds too damn swampy for me!
Sweaty and vile here.
I think fall is a better time of year for me.
Actually I love them all.

steven said...

reya as i write i'm huffing back a little pile of sweet potato hummus and a really nice pale ale which tells me that even though it's not called summer, it knows itself as summer and my body is asking for summery feelings and tatstes and sensations. bike riding has become super sweaty which i like. the classroom air has become thick and slow with the occasional blue crackling bolt of creative energy flying across and around. yep, it's very summery before summer has even sung her first song. i love the photograph of the colours and the hanging metal pieces. are they part of a calder piece - the metal bits i mean. steven

Cyndy said...

I really love that wall of heat in the summer after coming out of chilly airconditioning - for about the first three minutes. It IS a rush! But the rest of the time I find it's best to move as slowly as possible, except when on a bike. I kind of like being forced into a change of pace by the heat.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

i admire your wonderful attitude.

summer is my season of complaint but you have inspired me to work on my attitude!

however, i'm hoping that metro dc experiences a flashback to some cooler, milder days come friday. altho i would like a better attitude, i know me and as i'm not at all hard core when it comes to summer in the swamp or anywhere it gets that mix of heat and humidity!

Reya Mellicker said...

Kim it is supposed to be much nicer by Friday. Not to worry. My attitude isn't good - it's macho.

Cindy, I, too, love being forced to slow down. That's a GOOD thing!

Steven yes a beautiful Calder mobile - huge, too - that hangs in the East wing of the museum. I think summer is born on May 1, is nursed into maturity by the agingin spring, come to fruition at summer solstice, and fades at Lammas, August 2nd, at which time the baby autumn is born. All my seasons overlap.

I had a pale ale tonight at dinner with my Facebook friends. It is a frickin' steambath in the District tonight. Holy cow.

C.M. Jackson said...

you are with it and moving with flow--I aspire to your coolness-c

Kerry said...

"One must let go of the urge to look good:" ha! I love this. Yay for comfortable clothes and frequent splashes of cold water!

I am so jealous of your easy proximity to great art, fabulous museums. In the hot summer I bet I would go to those places often.

Reya Mellicker said...

I am so not cool. Really.

Kerry, come to DC! Seriously. We will go look at art until we're overwhelmed by it all. OK?