The Light – It Burns …

Kage Baker loved the heat; but then, she had a lot of weird habits …

Even she disliked the September heat wave, though – she’d somehow fasten her yard-long braid on top of her head, dress in silk pajamas and direct her favourite Casablanca fan right at the back of her neck. When it got too hot by the living room windows, she’d finally consent to draw the shades over the sight of the boiling sea, and grumpily watch movies in the artificial twilight. Come nightfall, we’d open all the windows, light the lava lamps and brainstorm – too hot to do anything else.

Despite the fact that it is part of the natural cycle here, I hate the September heat. It happens every year – as soon as kids go back to school, the temperature in Los Angeles shoots up over 100 and the sun increases at least a degree in magnitude. In fact, there’s a brand-new nova going off in Ursa Major right now – you can see it in the northwest right after sunset, with mere binoculars: really! – and I am sure that sucker is adding its mite to the heat quotient as well.

The new tar patches in the streets are melting, and being sucked right out of the potholes by the wheels of passing cars. The camphor trees smell like scorched incense. Harry keeps sitting in his water cup (sensible bird) and so looks horrible – a little demon quetzelcoatal, all his feathers slicked down over his alien skeleton. The cats’ bones have dissolved, and the Corgi is looking at us with big sad brown eyes that say “I’m almost ready to let you shave me bald …”

Me, I’m just waiting for the temperature on Weatherbug to hit 100, so the display will turn red and start pulsing. You gotta take your fun where you can when it’s this hot, you know? That Corgi may end up naked yet.

At least I’m no longer in school or navy blue wool uniforms. And the air is much better in LA than it used to be – when we were in grade school, you could see the smog hanging in the streets at roof level. I remember sitting and watching – we were not allowed on the school yard in this weather – and you could literally watch visible waves of it, transparent grey and brown smoke, rolling over the grubby red tile roof of the church … pigeons fell out of the palm trees, splat.

Mark Twain complained that everyone talked about the weather but no one did anything about it: which is wrong, people do all sorts of things. It’s just that none of them make any difference. Even if you strip naked as your Homo habilis ancestors, you still have to sit or stand on something – and that will be too hot and you’ll stick unpleasantly to it. In the meantime, though, you’ll be trying out every light garment and iced drink you own, none of which will do any good – but you can’t really be accused of doing nothing. So take that, Twain; you in your tropic whites and planter’s chair and damned mint julep.

Even Kage would be lying about gasping by now. Waiting for the sun to go down, or preferably out – so we could turn on the Official Lights of the Weird, and see what  crazy stories evolved out of the day’s heated delirium …

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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2 Responses to The Light – It Burns …

  1. I’ve been sitting here in air conditioned splendor in a downtown office. I had saltines and peanut butter for lunch and did not venture out. Soon, very soon, I have to go out and find out just how hot it’s been, then betake myself back to the Valley where it’s probably still that hot. Should be fun. 🙂

    But the air certainly is much better than it used to be. I remember those days too. Some things do get better.

  2. Kate says:

    Oh, the Valley – I am in awe of you folks who live out there. I sticke cravenly to the margins of the Hills and Griffith Park, and – as you can see – I still feel sorry for myself!

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