The cicadas were screaming at 8:30 in the morning. The dog was trying to stick to the shade, but he still had energy and needed to be walked. My eyes were looking down, mostly keeping an eye on his movements, but also averted from the sun's glare. The ground, I saw, was baked and the grass was fried to a pale tan brown. Only the weeds were still green after a month without rain.
And then I saw them. Little squat, spindly weeds with yellow balls of flowers on them. I have no idea what they're called. I've never seen the flowers open. You'd never plant them in your garden. But they were Proust's madeleines for me on a hazy summer morning.
Because these are weeds I knew well in childhood. I sat in summer day camps at the school yard across from my house, and the counsellors kept us occupied for long hours playing Sleeping Beauty, where we had to lay very still in the grass, while the counsellors walked among our prone bodies, looking for movement. You were out if you moved. A single round could last a half an hour or more.
There was a lot of grass sitting in those days. Grass sitting and lying down in grass. And in the grass were these homely little weeds.
We're well into summer holidays now. My kids all have this entire week off and the heat has broken to beautiful warm sunshine. When the humidity was at its peak last week and the kids were peaky with illness, I let them watch their home decorating shows on television. But today, I'm sending them out to get bored, to get to know the weeds in our yard.
And maybe even for a round or two of Sleeping Beauty.