Summer in the South East lingers on like an old friend. Fall waits patiently to move in. Winter is a distant dream in books about Christmas, and long days are still a tangible reality. While others around me await cooler weather, I rejoice holding on to every balmy bit of the remaining glory of summer.
The abundant southern sunlight falls onto my wooden floors, strong, straight, sharp lines of hope.The power of the scorching sun is ruthless and inescapable.
Summer rains are answered prayers. The subjects of love poems and Bollywood story lines, a nurturing potion to an Indian heart. The dampness in the air before the smell of showers accentuates the heaviness of the humid air. The smell of the earth after a monsoon like rainstorm is the quintessential smell of Indian soil. And when the rain hasn’t complied, the dust rises as a mountain. Smells, of chai and curry travel heavily reverberating to the lazy spinning of ceiling fans on sleepy afternoons. While working the invasion of bugs, slothful, creeping, crawling creatures, the irritating jewels of summer.
Visually the subtropics of the South are similar to the topography of India. The ripe green of the thick trees as the leaves mature from spring to late summer, ripened by the very harshness of the sun, waiting for a new life. Jasmine and rose linger in the air, so do basil and ginger. House plants include lemons and chile pepper and farmer’s markets sell Okra!
Traditional houses have Carolina rooms and long porches with high roomy ceilings, drinking ice tea, eating peaches and watermelons, much like afternoons of sharbat, pakoras (hush puppies, anyone?) and,cucumbers with a dash of salt, Lassis and hand held paper fans. Ahh the carelessness, the pleasure of complaining about the heat over shooing flies from mangoes. Diverse bugs serenade the big mouths of hazy street lights in blue-grey late dusk.
Carolina wrens break out into rippling sonorous songs much like the cuckoo, the best sound of my childhood and just when the cacophonous daytime sounds of the chiquitas fades, the crickets start their soporific, deafening music. In the arms of such warm comfort I can sleep soundly, without a care, for it will be just as hot tomorrow and I will be home.
Preeti Hay is the Managing Editor of India Currents.