Fighting the fires of July

More chapters from Hills of Eden
  • h

A VG Serial: Hills of Eden

Episode 26

The sun is a fierce and hostile fireball floating in the noon sky. I should be at the Blue Hole down on Osage Creek, swimming deep in the cool waters, or at White Water in Branson, sloshing in the miniature ocean or tubing down the Lazy River.

The deer bed down early these hot July days, under cool cedar branches or in thickets down by the lake where the temperature is a few degrees cooler. I hear them move down the creek in the morning dark when the night breeze is still blowing. The air is blessedly chill and the curtains flutter at the open window as if it was still spring.

That’s what we all should be doing: sleeping during the day’s swelter, working in the night cool. But we have our civilized clocks and commerce continues its grinding ways, even in the dangerous days when the sun scorches the earth with a billion watts of candlepower, taking eight seconds to travel 97 million miles through space.

Could it be we have set all our clocks wrong? These summer days should be the short ones. I drive to the office early after rising at 3:00 a.m. or so, and there is a light fog on Taneycomo. The fisherman are shadowy silhouettes on the sandbar and boats stir the mist and disappear beyond the bridge as if swallowed up by smoke. It is still cool and the sky blue, the sun not yet boiling. It’s seven o’clock and if I left the office at eleven  and napped through the fiery afternoon, I still would have worked a full day.

But most of the phone calls from New York come in the afternoon. I think it must be that the editors are sluggish after those long lunches and use the phone so they won’t fall asleep at their desks. I am falling asleep at mine and the phone’s ring jars me out of my torpor. My wits left me before noon, however, and I wonder at the cruelty of this inhuman system that allows the deer to sleep and subjects us humans to labor throughout the hottest part of the day.

There are hotter places than the Ozarks this July, of course. And, we have more attractions to ward off the heat than other, less fortunate places. As long as you move slow, you won’t burn up or suffer from heatstroke. These are the good days to float the rivers in a canoe or an inner tube, to dawdle under a bluff or overhanging shade tree and splash your feet in the water. But I still yearn for that long afternoon nap in an air–conditioned room with not a phone ringing—anywhere in the world. Fishing at dawn is not a bad idea, either, and if you’re lucky you can limit out on trout before the mercury climbs up near the 100-degree mark. The bass and crappie like the deep murky places, too, and if you can find a shady spot up on one of the creek arms, you might just find some action with a deepwater lure or worm.

I have been meeting a friend for tennis on Saturday mornings. We start playing at 6:00 a.m., before the sun is up over the horizon. After a couple of sets, we’re ready for the showers. It’s good exercise, a fine time to enjoy the relative cool of morning.

Silver Dollar City is many things, but at heart it’s a park, and there’s lots of shade to protect you from the sun. The music shows, Shepherd of the Hills, Swiss Villa’s outdoor amphitheater, for instance, all present their shows at night when the heat has begun to dissipate.

So, these Ozarks hills have weapons to combat July’s fire. Plenty of them.


Hills of Eden will be published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please click the title, Hills of Eden, to read more about Jory Sherman and his books.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,