Garbage swirled against my ankles. Napkins and plastic cups used, crushed in the hand, dropped carelessly. A large dead rat lay decayed flat beside a bin. A scattering of people still wandered, some with their dogs and some still wringing the last dregs from a night out. Others settled in where they would sleep. A woman screamed liar and streamed filth from somewhere in the darkness of Picadilly Gardens. ‘We don’t do spice‘ two girls said to a man as I walked past, as I waited briefly to cross behind the tram. Warm summer night as claustrophobic, overheated. Everything felt edged. From Glasgow to Wigan to Victoria, late trains and late arrival and the further station and a ways to walk to the bus and I hadn’t money to waste on a cab and streetlights out, and God I thought to myself I am not sure about this city whose cheeks are growing hollow as it drowns itself in nonrenewables and sends luxury’s chrome and steel up into the sky and kicks its people into the gutters.
There is even now a mad crashing of cicadas. Their buzzing comes in waves from all sides, they are angrier here than at home, louder. As you approach they cannot leap to stillness but must wind down slowly, a whirr and a whirr and a whirr and a whirr. Then there is silence. They jump into a full blast of sound again, louder than before, but behind you this time as you pass. They bring me happiness, like the quick slender lizards that move so quickly to efface themselves in improbable cracks.
I love being surrounded by this sound of summer, sitting in front of the whirring of a fan and its odd mechanical rumble as it turns from one side to the other. But it is also odd, such familiar sounds yet so far from home. The glimmer of turquoise water just outside the window. Every now and then an echo of those everywhere-the-same sounds of families at the sea-side. The expected breezes off the sea non-existent. The skin on my neck itching and unhappy, the lazy slothfulness, the delicious mad consumption of books. The stirrings of a story or two, but no desire to write more than this. A scatter of maps on the low table along with a prized ticket to the Ħal Saflieni hypogeum for tomorrow, procured from the Citadel early this morning — I had all but given up hope of seeing it, with no pre-ordered tickets available. A freezer stuffed with frozen ravioli from the market in Victoria. Mark working at the kitchen table, but I cannot follow his example and work on my article. I just cannot. Fiction or nothing. The mention of a shame-faced crab in the Gozo natural history museum yesterday a new character for Whispering Truth, but no, I am in the mood to lazily think. To blog, the most effortless of writing. The older I get, too, the more afraid I am of forgetting.
The sun streaming through the kitchen window is about to hit me, forcing movement into a cool shower. My legs are finally the colour they have been most of my life, before I moved to England. They are fully mine, but still forced into retreat.
I hated summer today. Sunburns everywhere like bruises. So hot, but unlike lazy Tucson days it felt as though here someone had picked the town up and shaken it so everyone clinging by threads or riding along any kind of edge had fallen out twitching and needing a fix. Men wandered the streets whip thin, shirts off and ribs sticking through badly tattooed skin. Excited with an edge of anger, voices raised even when they were just talking about haircuts, bicycles. Nowhere lives and early deaths marking their gaunt stubbled faces. Visible addiction here belongs only to them. Mass unemployment here now for a good few generations, the closing of pits and factories. My heart hurt and I wanted a drink, still, I wouldn’t be going round the Wetherspoons today. It opened at 8 am. It snapped and snarled and soppily swore at full capacity and anything could have kicked off.
Instead I felt like spending the cool of the evening going to throw rocks at the original captain-of-industry’s ‘castle’, raging against the violence of this wealth extraction and abandonment — its chemical decimation of generations and its blight upon the earth.
Tomorrow I get to go home.
Giant flying beetles have filled the world, each a buzzing bulk of iridescent green. Airborne in a blind flying pattern that ends only when they crash into something. Cling to it. Launch again. I swept our porch clear of its beetle apocalypse of shining carapaces, many already strangely fallen to pieces.
With the storms came a vain hope it might cool down enough to sit outside, you see.
I have seen these beetles before but never seen them in numbers like this.
A single dark smudge caught in buzzing flight just over the mesquite tree, others concealed in their lazy circling of it, perhaps because contact with its feathered leaves does not stun them:
They are fig beetles (cotinus mutabilis).
I love that beetles have their cycles, and the cycle of each species stretches through seasons but also years, connected to rains and temperature and deeper rhythms that most humans remain utterly ignorant of. I remember the year that tiny black clicking beetles filled the world, thousands of them, they got into everything. Just one year when I was little, and we never again saw such waves of tiny black clicking beetles. Still, we kept finding their exoskeletons for many years after. They sat in drawers, boxes and mum’s big chest, perfectly preserved. We pulled lengths of material from it and they would tumble out of the folds, a reminder of the uncomfortable time when they surrounded us, got into our hair and the folds of the couch and clustered in drifts along every edge and in every corner, and died and died and died.
Then there are the cicadas, their steady drone the accompaniment for some of my happiest times. I cannot hear them at my mum’s, but at Julie’s though, at Julie’s I can. At Julie’s it feels like I am in the desert more than that I am in the city, and I love that feeling.
I am house-sitting, taking care of chickens…look where they lay their eggs:
to be retrieved perilously using a rake
The ladies themselves, lovely Ameraucanas…
And the bantam! I only saw her once, but she’s so lovely:
Somehow she has remained invisible for a week in this small yard, not joining the others in their roosting or feasts on cracked corn and mealy worms, until she appeared without warning this morning with a series of small, impetuous clucks.
It has been beautiful since I arrived, monsoon season of stormy skies
Five days now of much needed rain, rumblings, lightenings, and rainbows
And the cat enjoying the cool shade beneath the palms
Finally a cat to play with, and Meli is the cutest thing ever…
All of us are feeling the heat, the unusual humidity, and helping Dan move today was no joke at all. But I did not see a single poisonous spider.
It is pouring now, another wave of fierce and pounding rain. Life fragrance. Happiness.