Kage Baker, I would very much desperately like to think, would have declared a moratorium after a week of this heat. She’d have decamped to her armchair, with her standing fan aimed at the back of her neck and a wet bird on her shoulder – a wet bird can be a very cooling thing, especially since they don’t object to getting wet – unlike cats. And Harry could be counted on to dance about and flap his wings, too, thus becoming a little portable hurricane all on his own.
A hurricane would be welcome here. Maybe just the edge of one. The weatherman keeps talking about “monsoon-al flow” but so far all that means is rising humidity and coy little glimpses of thunderheads over the mountains. Tropical depressions are skipping all around the edges of Mexico and Ecuador – but nothing is crossing cleanly over to the Pacific and heading up the coast … what good is monsoonal anything if all it means is rising humidity but no precipitation? Even hot rain would be good.
Fog is reputedly lurking at the coast. It’s a mere 20 miles from here to Santa Monica Pier, (I just Googled it) which is – I know – a home of fog. It could certainly slink up the glass canyons of Wilshire and visit us here; the hills of Griffith Park are full of appropriate places where ocean fog could find a place to rest. The Hollywood Bowl is surrounded by oaks, firs, manzanitas and eucalyptus; the Greek Theatre lies in a copse of pines on the edge of the deliciously overgrown Bird Sanctuary. Hell, the Los Angeles River – which actually is a river around here – runs through miles of cottonwood trees, their feet in the water and their branches waving like torn green silk at eye level with the freeway.
But does fog come visit? Nope. It sat on us all May and most of June, but now – tricksy devil – has fled away to sip cheap beer and slushy margaritas in Malibu. It’s enjoying fried bananas and Mexican flounder where Sunset runs into the sea at Highway One.
After a week of this, the heat just doesn’t go away any more. We stay hot, and we get a little hotter every day. It makes one feel abandoned. I am profoundly depressed. One more pet shelter commercial on the television and I fear for my sanity.
Last night, sitting in the dark watching telly and wondering whether to eat cold watermelon or stuff it down my shirt, it came to me that I couldn’t remember how Kage’s voice sounded. Oh, I can “hear” the way she would shape words; her technical voice, as a writer would construct it, the personal grammar that parses out as Kage and no one else. But not the sound. Not the specific vibration of air molecules that was the actual sound of her voice.
I spent a lot of last night, therefore, trying to find recordings of Kage online. I myself don’t have any, just as I don’t have many photos. We were always too busy to take any pictures, to tape any sound; we were too busy living to squirrel away memories for an eventual drought. We never imagined, neither one of us, that a heat could come so fierce it could burn away our life.
People aren’t hardwired to imagine that. No one could live at all if we were. But it does eventually leave one sitting about hopelessly, longing for rumours of a tropical rain to materialize …
Anyway. I found a couple of snippets online, sitting in the hot dark last last. I cried so hard I thought my eyes would fall out. I don’t think I’d better do that very often. My brain is close enough to burning as it is right now .
It’s too hot to flirt with live flames. Hot rain only makes steam.