Today’s prompt from #30DaysOfSummerWrtingChallenge is about the Dog Days of August. With the dog star, Sirius, high in the night sky, in many parts of the world (excepting Ireland) we swelter. The nights are too sticky to sleep with even a sheet. A torpor descends. I am old enough to remember these days before universal air conditioning came into play, both domestically and in work places. All that energy being expended may be cooling off the room temperature, but the planet is overheating. The globe’s green lung, the Amazon, is on fire.
Until I moved to these more temperate climes in Ireland, August was my least favourite month of the year. If you had said to me years ago that my wedding day would take place in August I would have thought you were 1) demented, and 2) did not know me at all! Yet here I am with a wedding anniversary at the tail end of the August. And, to be clear, after a very rainy, and overcast summer, the sun split the azure sky on the day.
Yet, I know too that Ireland is a bit of an anomoly. But even here we have had had record breaking high temperatures for part of the summer. Climate change is real. We can feel it.
Prayer for the Dog Days
Now I lay me down with the Old Dog at my feet. We pray in these crazed days that our souls will keep. And if we should die in this stifling heat, bless the species we shall not keep as we lay ourselves down to another night's restless sleep.
The theme from today’s #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is ‘Flights Delayed.’ And I have a humdinger of a memory to pack into the Poetry Daily. Which, admittedly, is delayed in itself today. Somedays you just need a long lie in. The cloud is low. The precipitation is persistant. Today is a day for me lying low, since the weekend is probably going to be a bit peopley. I need me some serious nose down in a book time today.
The memory stretches back to 2007 when I missed a flight (either due to my own incompetance with online booking, or the website’s issue; perhaps we were both a bit hot flushed.) I had grabbed a cheap transatlantic flight from Knock to surprise my mother by attending her 90th birthday party three weeks after I had visited for my niece’s wedding.What should have been a five day visit doubled when the re-booked flight was repeatedly delayed due to mechanical issues; then Glasgow Airport closed down during a terror attack so no replacement airplanes were on the way. And the airline did not see fit to hire a replacement one Stateside of the Atlantic.It turned into a very expensive ‘budget’ flight. The amount of time I spent hanging around a departure lounge may be the genesis of my extreme dislike of airline travel.
I have laid my head down upon the floor of JFK and still lived to tell the tale of four days of flight delayed, the corporate crack up of too small an airline fleet meets with terror alert in Glasgow. Meaning no seats. A fellow passenger had a heart attack in the heat. Bad free airport food. Bad Intel. Bad hotel room. Bad tempers.
An expensive alternative airline flight finally brought me home. Our ancient tortoiseshell cat had kept the faith. She did not die while I was away. She purred herself out, departed this world twelve hours home from all delays. Both liberated, although each took a different route.
Today’s prompt on #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is all about summer loving, or a summer of love, holiday romance. Summer does seem to make us turn to thoughts of … And it’s not all sun and sand in the mix. It’s true I did fall in love with the one I (still) love in summertime. So memory lane is coming to my rescue in the Poetry Daily again. But then, the Celts thought that poetry was all memory.
First Summer of Love
He set out on a Magic Bus bound for his best mate's first wedding in Nice. In London, I got sick. Feverish. Lost my voice. Languished. Thought he might be lost forever.
He came back on a Magic Bus brandishing a bunch of sunflowers (artificial) bought in the Med where all the bodies beautiful lay out, topless, on their sun beds.
But he thought of me and I had missed him equally. We both got on a Magic Bus we drove together for all seasons, and every weather.
The theme set for today’s #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is Helter Skelter. That conjures up fun fairs, carnivals, the reek of diesel, candy floss, cheap meat, pizza and fried potato, with a soundtrack of screeches and the crack of the rifle range where people were trying to pot a duck for a teddy bear prize.I felt repelled by the prompt to be honest. But I sat with it a bit and then realised that I was a ‘tween in the summers of 1968 and 1969, when it felt like the whole country was on an LSD trip to my baffled consciousness. To be frank, a lot of the young people promenading the boardwalk back then were high on some hallucinogenic or other. My lack of enthusiasm for crowds probably dates from this time; I was fine at the World’s Fair four or five years earlier. Fun fairs have always seemed faintly sinister to me though.
Besides, I am a fun fair woosy when it comes to rides. Ghost Train, Merry Go Round and Ferris Wheel – those are the only ones I will consider riding and even the ferris wheel can’t be too high. I tried the cups and a roller coaster once. Never again. I don’t enjoy being terrified. I have enough cortisol surges already, thank you!.
But then I made the connection to the events of August 1969 in Los Angeles, California. Helter Skelter really means one thing to me- Charles Manson and his family’s murder spree I read about it obsessively in the newspaper and the reports in Time magazine of the arrests and the trial revelations. So, though I was a bit loathe to take on today’s prompt I finally took a deep breath.
It's a Ghost Train ride. August '69: buckle up for the Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds ultimate trip.
It's an apocalypse dreamed up on Old Man Spahn's movie ghost town ranch. Next production's a technicolor Theater of Blood.
Charlie's gone and carved a swastika on his forehead, his mark of Cain. It was all Charlie's will. But he was just some little man's son who wanted to be as big as Jesus, as much as he was like Satan.
‘Riders of the Storm’ is the prompt in the inbox from #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge this morning. Certainly this month has seen some uncharacteristically stormy,thundery weather, the kind of weather that broods like Heathcliff- the drama never seems to be able to hit its climax and resolve. It’s true that we have seen some extreme rain storms after a relatively dry (for Ireland) winter and spring this month. Deluges that last five minutes and can manage to make the storm drains overflow shift into bursts of sunshine. It has been close but not particularly hot, although when that sun does break through it can feel clammy. The air felt extra heavy . The old dog moped. The cats were fractious with one another. You longed for a breeze. Or a real storm to clear it all up. So the Poetry Daily starts the week with one song from my teens as the prompt and another one lending itself to the title. (It is chastening to know that you are old enough for songs that were the playlist of one’s youth are now ‘classic.’ It feels like I have been relegated to the same category as vintage cars!)
Fickle month of flinching showers alternating with deluges guillotining the gladioli. You never know where you are, or how to dress. Who to be. Or prepare. Weather is the autocrat in the oligarchy of climate change.
Though it can be, sometimes a season of fierce sunshine cracking through the downpour. There have been rainbows to wish upon...
that we may all be well, be happy, be released from the terror of close thunder that shakes, the lightening that strikes, making the house's foundations shudder.
The theme for #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is ‘At the Station.’ Regular readers of Sojourning Smith will be familiar with my distaste for airport departure lounges. I have taken trains and buses a fair amount over a lifetime, and become infatuated with ferry terminals at times. There were vivid memories of getting trapped in an Amtrak bathroom before the train had even set off for my transcontinental trek back in 1978. (I did eventually release myself.) But in the end the title demanded its hearing, as did the journey remembered from early childhood. I may get back to stations at some later date though.
" Are we there yet?" We clop lopped over concrete slabs of the northeastern extension of the PA turnpike. We were a long way from there yet.
So we made up games, listing each new state's car license plate. I learned how to rhyme in a Studebaker backseat, defeated by orange. Determined to make a new word up.
Pitstop Neshaminny Howard Johnson's. Prepare to hold your nose in Bristol going past rotten egg Rohm & Haas. Cross the Delaware River to Grandmother's house we go. View the ships in bottles, great-uncle corraling clippers in glass. But we're not there yet.
Pass the Chinese supermarket in Brown's Mills before skirting forlorn Pine Barrens more Brother's Grimm than sylvan
"Are we there yet?" said somewhere near Lakewood when nose began to sniff and give a feral quiver, an atavistic sense of subtle shifts
in ozone, air recalibrating. Then the definite tang of salt, rotting seaweed, crossing Barnegat Bay's old metal bridge rattling over onto the barrier island's sandy spit.
Roll down Ocean Avenue, hang a left at the Catholic Church. Stop, pile out of station wagon to peels of aunt's laughter as it goes up and down the scale, our cousins' clammer.
Later, after a noisier than usual dinner we go down to the street to see the Atlantic Ocean. Walking the beach, getting feet wet, we face the edge of earth to look out at the mystery. We are not nearly there yet.
I am writing in haste this morning before I depart to learn how to identify butterflies, their habitat and how to survey them here in wildish West Cavan. The topic for the Poetry Daily comes from the #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge – the wild wood. Immediately, images of my beloved local Cavan Burren Forest, with its trees, mushrooms, bilberries and glacial erratics came to mind.
Into the Wild Wood
I go out to meet all the tree people to commune with god in their upturned limbs, the canopy the greatest cathedral.
I go out to meet all the tree people who are congregation, altar and pew, their stillness reaching towards the eternal.
I go out to meet them to be prayerful, the trees breathing both below and above, the one organism, earthly, celestial.
I go out to meet my wild angel, to explore its paradigm and its whim, to go out and greet this old tribe, my people.
I go out to greet my ancient people that die and live and grow for clues how we wander borders of the eternal.
I go out to greet my fellow people where wildness and peace are hand in glove as one organism, one world, eternal.