Farmer's markets sprout on every corner. In their depths lie bushels of red tomatoes, juicy and ready for slicing. The bristly tips of corn peek out of a huge basket near the cash register. A pyramid of cucumbers is built next to the overflowing bins of squash. Fruit is heaped in wicker baskets everywhere - peaches, plums, blackberries, fragrant in the dim humidity.
Children are everywhere - on skateboards, on bikes, on rollerblades, on bare brown feet toughened by hot asphalt and dead scratchy crabgrass. They squint against the sun's constant glare, playing games of make-believe, pretending sticks are swords and trees are forts. They cluster in pockets of shade, trading stories, making plans. The ice cream truck circles endlessly, its tinkling melody maddening in the heat.
That heat is merciless and demanding, leaching every ounce of energy from your flesh as you work your way through the morning and into the afternoon. Air-conditioning is a given in any business; the silky rush of climate control on your skin as you step from the sweltering parking lot to the cool interior of a bank (or grocery store or restaurant) is shocking and sweet. The heat pushes its hands into your face and runs its fingers over your scalp, prickling and uncomfortable. It rides on your shoulders and settles in the fork of your crotch. It kisses your face with wet smacks and makes you wish for the deepest recesses of winter - although such tremendous heat makes you question if the season ever existed at all.
Every afternoon a thunderstorm rolls in, hiding the horizon's blue mountains with a scrim of gunmetal gray. Clouds tower in the southeast, rolling over and over like strange dough worked by huge invisible hands. Trees whip back and forth, whispering together in an uneasy chorus. The skies open and rain cascades in sheets so thick you can see it on the road, moving like a curtain of water. Thunder roars overhead; lightning spikes the horizon with a crooked finger. Fifteen minutes later the sky is blue-over-pink and cloudy tendrils of steam hang over the blacktop like restless ghosts. In the distance, a brilliant rainbow marks the passing storm's edge.
As the sun sinks below the horizon the fireflies appear one by one, stuttering coded messages to each other from across the yard. The twitter of birds is replaced by the constant reeeeee of crickets and cicadas, a chorus which stretches into the wee hours of the morning. The humidity presses sweaty hands on your skin.
A glass of sweet tea, the rind of a lemon dancing in the liquid as you drink. Ice cubes chatter against the glass; the condensation makes it slippery. The bed calls you, promising you can wake up early to do the things you had planned for the evening. You slip between cool sheets and let your exhaustion melt into the mattress, knowing you'll probably be unable to get up early but too tired to care. The day plays through your mind as you drift off, the humming circle of fan blades above lulling you into sleep.
And then up in the morning to do it all over again.