It’s been brutal the last few days. After the rain event last week, there’s plenty of moisture for afternoon showers. They appear from nowhere, grow within minutes and the short deluge fills ditches. After the shower dissipates, there are only a few high clouds and the oppressive heat accentuated by the high humidity.
Today, while passing down rain soaked pavement, with almost completely clear skies, I remember returning home from a family vacation when I was young. We were returning from visiting relatives in Chickasha, Oklahoma and were all tired from the 500 mile trip.
My father stopped at a Texaco station in some small town around 100 miles from home. The paving was soaked, water ran in the ditches and the hot, humid air took my breath. We stretched our legs and I thought of the week we just spent in Oklahoma.
If you’ve never been to Oklahoma, you probably don’t know how dry it can be. Lakes slowly recede from lack of water. The dry, red dirt sucks almost all the life from the parched Bermuda grass and the afternoon heat is a dry baking heat, like you feel when you open a hot oven. Asphalt becomes soft and you can smell the oil as it bakes in the sun. Relief is found from “swamp coolers” and those with any sense do anything they can to avoid the heat.
I don’t know what it was about that vacation that really stayed in my mind, but it did. I remember fishing with relatives, lurking in the cool, red dirt basement at my grandmother’s and late evenings – when the dry air finally cooled – collecting fireflies in jars. There seemed to be millions and I can only describe my feeling as mesmerized. The older folks sipped beer and tried to stuff years of thoughts into a few short nights.
We were now close to home. I took a drink from the filling station water fountain and thought how it tasted like the water at home, which didn’t have the minerals and distinct taste of what we drank for a week. The sun was barely above the trees and the golden light turned the surrounding trees an unreal dark green, which sharply contrasted with the dry vegetation of Oklahoma. All traces of the cloud were gone and the rain hadn’t quite defeated the heat of the day. The wheels of passing cars sizzled as they stirred the heavy steam from the highway. Although it should have seemed familiar, it was more surreal. The short time in Oklahoma had changed my perspective.It’s strange how common, daily events can stir memories. They’re hidden away and appear as small treasures at the right moment. Moments in time captured forever; waiting for discovery.