Armchair Peregrinations

August 29, 2002

Three days of rain -- at last -- and at the end of August, and it seems as if the drought that has been with us since the summer of 1998 has been broken. I can't remember the last time I saw this much rain. It's a remarkable sight compared to the brown lawns, dust, trees and shrubs looking limp and weary. It's humid and the skies are still gray and look like they have more rain to unleash.

But we have a long way to go. The rivers and streams in South Carolina and North Carolina are running at about 5-15 percent of their normal flows. It's unbelievable. Earlier in the month there were pictures of big rivers in our state almost dried up with just a little stream down the center and dry banks on either side. The lakes are getting very low. Does this rain really mean a return to more normal weather? I hope so.

I just heard a lone cicada. How nice it would be to hear their song more frequently. I have missed it very much this summer. Those insects droning in the trees are emblematic of summer to me. I have many associations and memories of that sweet sound, but it has been very scarce this year.

August 19, 2002

I went to the beach again last night, and as it got dark and I sat out there feeling the cool ocean breeze, the most spectactular three-quarter moon just kept getting brighter and brighter as the sky over the ocean darkened. What an amazing sight! This bright object in the night sky over an empty and vast ocean.

I briefly wondered what it would be like if many such objects similar to the moon lit up the sky at night, like the tiny pinpoints of light that are the stars except so much bigger. How strange that would be.

Anyway, I just kept looking at the moon and thinking about how it was not that far away and that the sun was shining full force on most of it and I was able to see it on a clear night in the reflected light of that mighty sun. So mysterious and such a window opening onto the wonders of the universe

August 17, 2002

It is so hot here today on this lazy Saturday in mid-August. The summer sun is once again relentless, after a considerable break from the heat. But I am getting out in it and not trying to spend all day inside.

It is the kind of day, though, for long moments lingering on the here and now, the freedom from work and weekday obligations. Sitting in the air conditioning, feeling pretty good, but overwhelmed by all the books and magazines piled up and waiting to be read. I don't know if I ever will get to them as long as I spent the majority of my free time on the Internet.

A recent study just publicized talked about how the Internet has radically altered life in so many areas, and it has. Reading, news, entertainment, shopping, communication. It scares me sometimes that I can sit at this computer and do just about everything I need to do. Except for go out and physically get my groceries and other day-to-day necessities. It keeps me from interacting with other people outside of work. Not that I did much of that before. I can spent much too much time indoors.

August 13, 2002

The past three nights at the beach I've gazed at the most lovely and enchanting crescent moon. It hangs in the sky above the ocean, a bright and welcome sliver of light that is much more illuminating than its appearance would suggest. I especially enjoyed watching it tonight, just a short while ago, when it was surrounded by clouds and made a golden circle with the moon in the center.

I still can't get over how cool and autumn-like it's been for almost a week now. It's as if summer just left suddenly one day and hasn't yet returned.

August 8, 2002

It seems to happen every August about this same time, or so I imagine. A cold front comes through and all the horrendous heat and humidity are washed away with a summer rain storm or two. The next morning, the skies are blue, the wind is blowing, and it's at least 20 degree cooler. That's what we've had in Charleston the past couple of days. A merciful foretaste of autumn. I can't wait now that I've had this preview. We'll get the heat back soon enough, but it has been so nice.

So yesterday, although it was still warm at lunch hour, I took a long walk around the historic district of Charleston, having lunch and stopping in at some stores and a museum. It was a lot of fun to be able to do this after weeks of grueling heat.

It's on cloudless, late summer days like this that I really appreciate the beauty of our old city. As I walked down a cobble stone street, past 200-year-old houses to the vast market area and then down more quiet, shady streets, I felt a great sense of oneness with this place -- my home at last after years of wandering.

The warmth of the air, the beautiful, flower-filled crepe myrtle trees along every street, the golden, mellow light more typical of October than August -- all this gave me a good feeling. It was great to be out, and great to live in such a beautiful city full of so many charming sights.

I got back to work with some reluctance. I could have easily passed the whole afternoon wandering those storied and picturesque streets.

August 3, 2001

It is now August and I have turned over all my wall calendar pages, so that makes it official.

Last week was the most intense period of heat and humidity we have had in Charleston in years, I do believe. It felt like the very worst that New Orleans weather in August used to dish out when I lived there. The heat smacked you in the face. It was impossible to get the apartment cool. Hot, hot, hot. It's summer, but the greenhouse effect is working. The climate is changing. It seems pretty obvious to me. And, on top of that, the drought is just getting worse and there is talk about whole rivers drying up and disastrous consequences it that happens. I could go on.

Today, however, there was the first, tiny bit of relief in the air. The first whiff of autumn, dare I be so bold and foolishly optmistic to proclaim? The winds are pleasant and the temps are in the 80s, and I am getting ready to head out to the beach. I really like days like this in August.

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