Monday, April 11, 2005

The summer of all things

Every winter is new and every summer the same as the last. Or is that every summer is new and every winter the same as the one you forgot about already. It makes no difference I guess. The seasons change or at least should be changed, at least once every now and then, because even weather goes stale after a while.

For us the moment is long overdue, but the last two days saw a brief change. The sun swam in the sky, the clouds were vanquished, the evening brought a breeze that made your head swim, the balcony doors were thrown open and I sat for a night on my own in the house drinking beer, eating pretzels and feeling the breeze wash over me. Who knows where summer goes but when it comes back you have to love it.

Now if it can stay we will have got somewhere.

The fruit is coming out in force on the streets. Basket carrying farmers line the pavements around my house with rambutans, jackfruits, prize mangoes, green oranges, limes, pineapples, tamarinds, watermelons, mandarins and whatelse, none of them in short supply. The police raid the street with a loudhailer and a flatbed truck and the farmers scatter, running to hide around the corner or in a laneway, giggling and looking harried, only to return as soon as the heat is off. They work every day and some have dead chickens or pigs feet, laid out like dolls legs on a wooden board.

For this week Kate had been getting up for a 7am class of pharmaceutical employees and there, around the corner from the house, in what has always been a busy intersection of no note, was a morning fruit, fish and flower market we had no knowledge of. On the way home from dinner we went under Long Bien Bridge and bought oranges and rambutans to devour when we got home at midnight. The long curled spikes of the rambutans tickled our fingers as we ate them and our tongues tingled as we savored sweet white centers.

The fruit has erupted in force but it never really left I guess. Even in the middle of leaden winter there were green skinned oranges to juice and passionfruit brought up from the south. We could buy mandarins from one of the many headscarf wearing women hiding in our laneway or push through the crush of the market to get a mango or two to bring home and divide and consume. A week has passed since we bought the long green avocados that ripened on the kitchen bench in a day, turning from green to black in moments. The fruit now though seems new. New fruit for a new season.

Tomorrow there’s a chance the weather will be ashen. Today the sky snapped shut on us with a force and we remained almost totally housebound, stuck to the lounge, pinned beneath hangovers. The weather reports sashay back and forth. Tomorrow it will be 32 and sunny, Thursday 40 and hot, Friday cloudy and 23, Monday fog and humidity. They flit about between delusional extremes that never really arrive and people talk about the weather coming from Hong Kong with derisive despair as though it has been cast off or thrown at us. Today the specks of rainy mist clouded the air like flies, not rain. I had the balcony cleaned in preparation for something I’m not even sure will arrive. Nothing is certain other than that when it arrives summer will hit with everything it has.

I watch Nick at work like a barometer. His cool Chicago blood is too thick for the heat and when he begins to melt I’ll know to clean the fan and refill the ice trays in the freezer. Until then the limbo is terrible.