It’s only 8am but the sun beats down hard from a deep blue sky, belying the thermometer, which reads 67 degrees. We’re walking Riley before the heat of the day takes hold. It’s July in San Jose, Calif. and here in the valley, it can get sweltering.
The neighborhood is still mostly green despite a drought and some serious water restrictions. A spray nozzle frizzles in the quiet of the morning; a neighbor is watering his front flower garden before the 10am cutoff time.
As we round the curve of our block to another street, the grind of a lawn mower gets louder. It’s a little early to make that kind of racket on the day before a holiday, even though it’s a weekday.
Breakfast dishes clank –they must be heavy–as we pass a two-story white house with green shutters.
Next door, a woman slides her unusual (but unattractive) side-to-side slide garage door open, then bends to pick up her newspaper. She is of a certain age, the one that still reads a daily newspaper even though the news is a day late and we’ve seen it all online or on TV.
Down the street an older couple hoists two overnight bags into a dusty SUV, clearly leaving town for the holiday weekend. We’d love to see some fireworks this weekend but can’t justify the horrible traffic and hassle. When we move to our part-time apartment in Pacific Grove we’ll see them, I think to myself, as it’s a few short blocks to the rec trail along the Pacific. A decade ago I watched the sky light up on the 4th along the water with a man I dated a few times. I haven’t thought about him in all this time. And still don’t.
This walk in the summer heat reminds me of the 1975 Joni Mitchell album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns. The hissing expressed disapproval for the materialistic culture of the homes, something that I couldn’t relate to at the time, as I finished college and grad school. It sure does apply here in Silicon Valley, where the median home price tops a million bucks.
Singer-songwriter Mitchell suffered an aneurysm in March 2015 and her condition has been kept secret, for no good reason, I think. She was a huge talent, but her fan base is aging, she hasn’t been in the public eye for a very long time and speculation has been minimal.
Still, it’s hard not to think of her, the album and the song as we walk in the heat of a summer morning. and to again realize that everything has its time and season. Even us.