Cool and Dry

The miraculous weather continues today. Cool, dry and clear. It is a parentheses in the swamp. No one can figure out where this came from. It’s a blessing for sure, to be relieved of suffering in late August. But it’s a freakish blessing. People have come pouring out of their houses in happy disbelief. We walk along the bayou, dazed like prisoners of conscience, newly released from solitary confinement. The lift is palpable. . . no one knows how or why it came, and we’re waiting, hoping against hope, until the customary suffocating blanket descends on us again.

Freaky, freaky, freaky . . . but I like it.

Emily, quite spontaneously, has offered the following bit of flummery to demonstrate that some things are not meant to be known, only experienced.

#701, c. 1863

A Thought went up my mind today —
That I have had before —
But did not finish — some way back —
I could not fix the Year —

Nor where it went — nor why it came
The second time to me —
Nor definitely, what it was —
Have I the Art to say —

But somewhere — in my Soul — I know —
I’ve met the Thing before —
It just reminded me — ’twas all —
And came my way no more —

I like the image of a thought going up her mind. Where would the thought have originated, then I wonder? In her gut? Or her feet? Maybe she absorbed it from the ground she walked on.

In any case it reminds me of something I’ve been reading lately, Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis. (I’m re-reading this because I had recommended it to a friend, and she’s reading it now in anticipation of a future discussion. So I’m cramming for the oral exam that is coming later.) This is Lewis’s story of his return to his faith in God after a period of time during which he was a confirmed atheist. He calls atheism the “cool evening of Higher Thought”. His word for faith in God is “Joy”. (Interestingly a year after he published this book, he married the one great love of his life, a woman named Joy.)

Lewis’s sense of Joy comes from a few experiences in his childhood. These were spontaneous eruptions of pure feeling. He trusts these as evidence of God’s grace precisely because Joy is innocent of any ideology or theology. It comes directly and wordlessly from within himself. The story that sticks in my mind is his description of feeling Joy over the sensation of Autumn. We all know what that feels like. I’m getting a taste of it right now with this early hint of fall. The sensation goes below thought. Like Emily, I lack the art to capture it in words. But I know it.

Last night Lance and I sat out by the bayou to take in the night air, clear, light, breathable. How long can this last? I even turned off the air conditioning at home! Lots of folks around the neighborhood had come out with the same plan. We were quiet and private in our own patches of grass. Bits of conversation floated over the bayou. Amazing how well sound carries over water.

Not far away, someone played the violin. In the dark, I could just make out the silhouette of the musician sitting in the grass by the water, her bowing arm dancing up and down. Jaunty Irish fiddle tunes rose on the air. Quick and happy music, yes. However, because these were Irish songs and because they came from a fiddle, they held a slight gray undertone. A whine of old pain. The music conveys a subtle sense of taking your joy while you can, always with a reminder underneath of loss and sorrow. There is no purity of feeling past childhood. Certainly not in fiddle music.

The night was lovely and complex. Magic in the air. Clarity and depth. This change in the weather brought us all out into the open for the same reason. So we could grasp this quicksilver time before it changed again.

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