Armchair Peregrinations

July 25, 2002

The weather at the beach last night was just about perfect. In fact, it is now nearing mid-summer and this is the peak time to enjoy being out by the ocean. The wind and temperatures will never be quite this nice at other times of the year. Everything seems to be in harmony: wind, waves, temperature, sky, mood, general feeling of well-being out by the water taking it all in. Endless summer. A feeling of cares vanishing at this one spot.

I am going as often as I can because in fall and winter it is usually too cool to sit on the beach and read and daydream. These days, it's as comfortable as it gets.

Last night was the second night of the full moon. Splendid in its mellow, glowing luminosity, coming out of the clouds. There is hardly a finer sight to behold on a summer's night.

July 19, 2002

Summer doldrums have set in. It's a time of intense heat. One must brace oneself for this yearly summer onslaught each July and August. Dog days.

Every evening when I go out to the beach, there is the sea breeze to comfort and cool me. We go from air conditioned houses and cars to workplaces and back again . When I do decide to confront this elemental force called "July in Charleston," and walk the hot concrete blocks downtown for lunch, it becomes a sort of psychological game. Yes. The heat and humidity are fierce. The RealFeel temperature every day this past week has been 105 - 111 degrees F. But I walk into the steamy, sun-dappled noontime and drink in the beauty of the flowering crepe myrtles. Suddenly, I feel warmth and not heat. I think of the carefree aspects of summer. Vacation, the beach. Freedom from school. Iced-tea and lemonade. I reminisce as I walk. I follow the shady side of the street. I notice all the planters full of brilliantly-colored flowers. I realize I don't notice the heat as much. I am dreaming, you see.

So it is the depth of summer we are in now, but the days are getting perceptibly shorter. I can be on the beach at 8:30 and have less than a half hour until it gets dark. But each day in summer has a certain order and rhythm. The morning dawns hopeful, the heat builds, the clouds form, there are even more regular afternoon thunderstorms with lightning. It is almost typical. I am getting used to it, as I say from the comfortable, air-conditioned fortress of my bedroom on a day off from work as I type this.

July 13, 2002

Walking back from lunch the other day, I skirted the edge of black clouds just blocks away, ready to open up for a downpour, but it never came. It was so nice, however, to feel the sudden rush of cool wind on a formerly steamy, hot July midday in Charleston. I almost felt like I was at the beach for a few minutes. The wind felt so good. I wish I could have kept on walking, but I got back to work soon enough and had to go inside and leave behind that wonderful, atmospheric sky and that sense of mystery and wonder that comes with dramatics changes in the sky and weather.

July 11, 2002

The summer is about half over, and I tend to enter that mid-July "zone" about now. Day after day goes by in a kind of easy-going lassitude.

Each day is hot, but not too hot. Cloudy, but with some afternoon showers, but not as hot as it is typically. I can actually do a good bit of walking during lunch hour without being exhausted by the heat and humidity. It is actually quite nice.

The crepe myrtles are in full bloom everywhere. Those trees with the clusters of reddish-pink and fragrant white flowers, are emblematic of summer here in Charleston, just as they were in New Orleans. I love the crepe myrte more than perhaps any other tree, with the possible exception of the great oaks, for what they symbolize. The bloom all sumer, in every weather condition and seem to defy drought. The patches of color everywhere cheer me and make me feel optimistic.

Each day also, I have been going to the beach, where the sea breezes have been steady and cooling. It is such a total contrast to inland. In fact, when I have been out by the ocean for an hour or two, and drive back to town, I am amazed to actually realize that I was just a few minute prior to that time looking out over the Atlantic, watching the waves crash ashore, and listening as the myriad sounds of the beach summer combine into their familiar and soothing symphone.

July 3, 2002

I love this time of year at Folly Beach. I have been going there almost every day. After work, around sundown, on my days off with my sister and niece and nephew. Any chance I get. I just get in the car and go. It's about eight miles, and I'm there. Fifteen minutes through traffic and suburban annoyances, and then bliss!

Yesterday, I cheered for a sand castle that had survived the onslaught of high tide. It's sturdy walls had held up, but mainly because it was built at just that point where the highest water reaches. No full moon now, so the tides are normal. It had a central fortiication with ornate sand-drip towers, and a bridge over a moat to a smaller castle outside the main one. Obviously, hours had been spent over this mini-fantasy in sand, and it is always fun to speculate about who built it and why.

I used to make feeble efforts at building them when I was young, but not like these creations. I am talking about some serious concentration. And, it's usually the vacationers with plenty of time on their hands who do it. This is high summer vacation time, and most of the houses seem to be occupied or rented.

For me, I am content to sit in my chair and gaze at the ocean or read a few pages in my books. I carry my book bag with with each time I go out, set up on the beach, get comfortable and forget about everything else. Nice!

I forget how much I love summer the rest of the year until this exact time in July rolls around. Summer is deep set. I am immersed in the moods, rhythms, and general ambiance of the season, and will be for weeks to come.

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