Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Shook Foil:" Texas in July

It is another summer in Texas. The world is now pounded out and skinnied to inches and feet and thin miles of brown grass and dirt and streaks of green. The corn is green-turning-brown. Wide roads, under construction, flat and empty, lay a straight course north and south through fields and brick strip malls through places named Grapevine, Frisco, Allen. The white crosses of churches mark east and west, the corners of counties and blocks of tan houses, farm roads and fields, God's claim upon this wide land. First Baptist, Community, Custer Methodist, Crossroads, Redeemer.

The hard brightness shimmers flatly, the sun owns us, laying down heavy upon our neck and back. The virtual clouds drift and hint of a reprieve but don't deliver -- astral mirages -- and the creek struggles past harboring a few hardy trees and animals, who lay very still. They are alive in the stillest of ways. In Texas the plants and animals and people hibernate in summer

But the cows somehow multiply in this rugged terrain in the fields, and their calves suck and rest in the shade of trees and by shallow pools rimmed in dry dirt. These are fields where tall, ageless men with lined faces still drive big American trucks and still wear cowboy boots and hats and still wear denim even on hot days. Human Sherman tanks, moving across yellow fields armored against the sun's bright artillery.

Only the donkeys are irrepressible -- they horse around like it is spring.

The chilled mall is full of strollers and toddlers and moms in shorts and sandals, suddenly cold and needing sweaters. The restaurants specialize in sweet tea and limeade. They know what we want.

The sun seems intent on doing a good hard, bright cleaning, purging humans and terrain of the seeds of luxury and moisture -- but in a slow, patient, unhurried way. There is time, he'll be here for months.

It is a good, hot, clean place to be in July