On these hot summer days I try to get done what must be done in the morning and spend the afternoon indoors where fans provide a relative coolness. I work up the tomatoes, onions, peppers, and basil and put them on to simmer into a delicious sauce, then retire to a corner of the sofa. The house is quiet and dim in contrast to the brightness beyond the windows, and the hum of multiple fans mixed with the chirr of summer insects outside make closing my eyes for a few moments seem not only a nice idea but inevitable.
Leaning back and simply breathing, I am aware of the perfection of the moment, the utter peace. Something in the ambient temperature and the quality of the air, as well as the sound of fans and insects, takes me me back to my childhood. As long as I keep my eyes shut, I could be on the sofa at my grandparents' house in Tampa in the early Fifties, hiding out from a hot summer day. The attic fan there was an omnipresent hum, the insect sounds the same.
I can visualize the dull green upholstery beneath my fingertips and know what I would see if I opened my eyes -- the bookshelves, the big wooden cabinet of the floor model radio, and beyond the windows behind me, the front yard with its young oaks and a lone palmetto palm. The brick-paved street, the lamppost, the mailbox.
Perhaps the knife sharpening man is parked there, his foot-powered grindstone whirling and adding to the sounds I hear. Perhaps Agnes Bean, my grandmother's friend from Michigan who lives in St. Pete now, is pulling up in her big chauffeur-driven car and she and her unpleasant little Pekinese will waddle their way up the steps and I will have to be polite. . .
As long as I keep my eyes shut, I'm here and now as well as there and then. I'm seventy-two years old; I'm ten years old.
It's like the paradox of Schrodinger's Cat -- but no felines are in danger of harm when at last, reluctantly, I open my eyes.