August Re-entry

In a psychological study, 99 percent of people who were shown an abstract shape, which looked like a figure eight that didn’t close in the middle with an oblong neck on one end, said it resembled a guitar. But 1 percent saw something else.

One young boy said it resembled a horse. He added that from an airplane, it would sort of look like a fat old horse with its head bent down nibbling grass. Whoa. Now there’s some imagination.

Bored? Got the summer blahs? It is, after all, the dog days of summer. (Factoid: Dog days refers to ancient beliefs that the brightest star in the constellation of the Dog, Sirius, rose and set with the sun during July in the Northern Hemisphere, which must have added heat to the sun. There, so now you know.) Try a new perspective.

Let’s see, there are the summer musicals, summer movies, still some baseball games, but mostly it’s just miserable driving around in the heat. For the working masses whose lot it is to swelter in Big D all summer, it takes a lot of bread and circuses to keep the natives happy; and mostly we seek relief in the form of escapism. Folks with families are trickling in from vacations as schools, for some weird reason, start in the August sizzle instead of after Labor Day as in days of yore, which made more sense to Texas weather. With air conditioning it went out the window, although those athletic fields where kids are doing drills for football season are infernos. Parents have to go shopping for back to school stuff. People get a little cranky and blah. Yet I had only to gaze out my window this morning to remember that we were not originally programmed to be quite so high maintenance.

Before the sun rose too high in the sky, the city arborist was supervising a crew cutting down a dying hackberry tree whose graceful arching boughs looked in danger of landing on any given car parked curbside. While the buzz of saws may have disturbed sleeping teenagers, they did not disturb the alert, be-diapered towhead, who sat mesmerized with his mother on the other side of my street. He’d been up since sunrise, which is when his mommy gives him his cereal so that he can bound through another day filled with the wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm that only a two year old can exude. The hardhat in the cherry picker wielding his chainsaw held this fellow’s attention as nothing else had in his thirty months on this planet. His gaze only shifted to the doodlebugs beneath his feet as the workers paused to wipe their brows and sip water. As the trucks rumbled off with their load of branches, the little guy skipped and ran home to get his own array of trucks out to re-enact that high drama. Later on, he’ll go watch roadwork going on at any given intersection in his neighborhood. The world is filled with fascinating activity, and he rushes to point out and share it all with his best pal, Mommy.

Having just returned from the vistas and cool mountain air of Santa Fe after a retreat from the big city lights, I’m trying not to tense up. If I choose to continue to ignore the news and stay unplugged, then I might stay a bit mellow and more observant. So this week as I prowl the baking concrete arteries of Dallas, trying to weave around the orange barricades at every turn, I am going to try to picture my overview of the world as a horse instead of a guitar. Peer through the shimmering waves of heat, can you still glimpse it … the magic?

Len Bourland is an author and regular columnist and can be reached through her website www.lenbourland.com or [email protected]

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