Monday, September 26, 2011

Don't ask

I am breaking my own rule against writing about the weather because we have been suffering vilely from the worst climate feature of the American south: humidity. It's not hot, exactly, but the air is as damp as a rugby player's crotch, and smells about the same. My house is acutely uncomfortable. Everything is damp. The dust mop sticks on the wood floors, the windows are so swollen the sashes are stuck in the frames, the living room smells like dogs and shoes and is as airless as the hold of a ship. There hasn't been a breeze, even a whisper of fresh air for days and days. Outside, the trees are dripping, sodden grape vines are smothering the garden, the grass is too damp to mow, and it hides piles of moldering dog shit along with ceaselessly singing crickets. A fetid miasma hangs over the entire city and my hair has become a nest of steel wool. I want to move to a clean, cold place, where it isn't a daily chore to hack back the vegetation that seems determined to crush all structures into the ground, where it is possible to carry on a conversation without having to raise your voice over the sound of cicadas, where your view is not obstructed by a wall of greenery everywhere you look. A tundra would be a refreshing change.

In Rome, there aren't many trees, or much vegetation of any kind except in specifically defined parks. I got used to that real fast--didn't miss trees at all-- and my first morning back Virginia, was a little flummoxed by all the green stuff I saw out the window when I woke up. Charlottesville has the feel of a place that has only recently been hacked out of the primeval forest. And on the earth's timeline, 250-ish years is no time at al.

In other news, my college student son Ian called me the other night to tell me there was a bat in his house. What was I supposed to do about that when we live 400 miles apart? What any normal mother would do: start shrieking about rabies shots and going to the emergency room and calling animal control and telling them to come right away, that there was a bat in the house and it was an EMERGENCY. Where was the bat, I wanted to know. The bat was in the kitchen. Well where were Ian and his roommates? They were all hiding in their bedrooms. I stirred them to action and next thing you know, the poor bat had an unfortunate encounter with the business end of a street sign. I continued my harangue about contact with the bat--had the bat touched him or brushed against him in ANY way? Had ANYONE BEEN SLEEPING IN THE PRESENCE OF THE BAT? Naturally, Ian thought I was overreacting, and he reminded me that even if he did need a rabies vaccine (which he didn't) it was OK to wait a week before getting one. Most of you do not know Ian personally, but believe me, it is absolutely typical of him to know something about the correct post-rabies exposure procedure (he seems to know something about everything) AND to want to put it off until the last minute.

Yesterday, I was using the long, skinny wand on my vacuum cleaner to suck the spilled cheerios out from under my refrigerator, when the vacuum began to make that noise it does when it has latched onto something too big to fit in the wand. I withdrew it from under the fridge, and what did I see, attached to the end of my vacuum's wand? A tampon.


  1. I'd heard that the South suffered from some horribly hot weather, but I wasn't really aware of the soaring humidity. Ugh.
    I can take hot weather, and Singapore was lovely, but when I went to Bangkok, it wasn't much hotter, but the humidity enveloped me like a bath of hot rancid oil.
    Our NZ climate, at least where I live in the southern part of the North Island, is really pretty good. Our winters are not too cold, with average temperatures about 8 - 10°C (50°F) and long hot summers, about 25 - 28°C(82°F).

    I find your description of the all-enveloping greenery a bit creepy and slightly claustrophobic.

    Poor wee bat. Couldn't they have just co-existed?

  2. I'm so glad you posted this! Our house has also smelled this terrible dog/shoe smell and I thought we just had the worst house ever. Blech. This September humidity is ridiculous.

  3. The bat story reminds me of the 3 weeks two summers ago that I spent living in an embarrassingly ridiculous mansion in Guatemala. We shared the place with a resident bat, which never freaked me out to be honest. I was much more concerned with the ant infestation and the scorpions (and much more enthralled that I was living in a place with avocado, papaya and banana trees in the gardens). In any case, the last sentence of this post is awesome and your description of the overgrowth of nature in our neighborhood is oh so accurate.

  4. I am so glad you wrote about the weather. I think it's a fine topic and you should do it more often because you do it so well.

  5. The whole town smells like a boy's locker room. It's disgusting.

    You are absolutely right about the bat. They are no trifling matter.

  6. Why aren't all the tampons in your kitchen absorbing the humidity?

  7. A tampon?

    Poor bat--if you can get them to the ground, they're totally harmless. They used to get caught in my classroom all the time when I was a teacher. I'd wait for it to flutter to the ground, then scoop it into a trash barrel and leave it on a high window sill.

  8. Ooops, I forgot to mention the tampon.

    Tampons in the tool drawers.
    Tampons under the fridge

    Where next?