The hissing of summer lawns

July 11, 2015

hissing-of-summer-lawnsIt’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.



14 comments on “The hissing of summer lawns
  1. ryder ziebarth says:

    Beautifully written, Carol. A vivid scene.

  2. You’ve painted a wonderful picture. I’ve wondered about Joni Mitchell as well and only hope she knows we’re out here routing for her.

  3. Jay Lickus says:

    Carol, this sounds like the opening of a great book !!

  4. Sandy Nelson says:

    Hi Carol, I almost feel I can skip my treadmill hour today after the picturesque stroll I’ve taken with you. Thank you.

    Our landscapers faithfully appear every Saturday at 8am. It’s quite an orchestra with the land mower, edge trimmer, and leaf blower all competing for the center stage noise maker.

  5. I feel like I went on the walk with you. And, I would be the woman of a certain age getting her morning paper. I read several papers online, but nothing beats the local beat for the local stories.

  6. A lovely morning stroll. Thank you for taking us along.

    Such a sad situation for Joni Mitchell. I hope she knows of all the fans thinking of her, remembering her.

  7. Ruth Curran says:

    What a special peak into your world. Love your reflections and grateful to go along for the stroll! Lots of things remind me of Joni Mitchell songs these days.

  8. Haralee says:

    Great descriptive post of the neighborhood walk.

  9. Lovely walk. Even,though, I too am a woman of a certain age who just cannot give up her daily newspaper on the front lawn..Sigh….

  10. Amy says:

    Thank you for including us on your morning stroll. It does sound like the opening of a book. 🙂

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