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A Midsummer Dawn's Dream

One of the great things about living at high altitude is the cool evenings and mornings. But there is something almost unnerving about Dawn in midsummer, especially when the monsoons start and nocturnal clouds and humidity trap the terrestrial heat. It doesn't even seem real to walk outdoors at Dawn and not brace yourself against the chill: to relax the entire body and not feel threatened, and to be at peace with the world at this most peaceful time of day. As much as I dislike mid-day heat, it's worth suffering it just to experience these mild Dawns.

When the body relaxes against the mildness, the skin tends to drink it all in. Total immersion. One of the books that explains this so well in its brief opening chapter is the Education of Henry Adams, scion of the famous Adamses of Quincy, Massachusetts. You wouldn't expect a sensual summer Bacchanal from a stoney puritan of New England. Some of his sentiments apply well to a camper in summer.
The chief charm of New England was harshness of contrasts and extremes of sensibility -- a cold that froze the blood, and a heat that boiled it...

Winter and summer, cold and heat, town and country, force and freedom, marked two modes of life and thought, balanced like lobes of the brain.
...above all else, winter represented the desire to escape and go free. Town was restraint, law, unity. Country, only seven miles away, was liberty, diversity, outlawry, the endless delight of mere sense impressions given by nature for nothing, and breathed by boys without knowing it.

Boys are wild animals, rich in the treasures of sense...

Among senses, smell was the strongest -- smell of hot pine-woods and sweet-fern in the scorching summer noon; of new-mown hay; of ploughed earth; of box hedges; of peaches, lilacs, syringas; of stables, barns, cow-yards; of salt water and low tide on the marshes.

Whether the children rolled in the grass, or waded in the brook, or swam in the salt ocean, or sailed in the bay, or fished for smelts in the creeks, or netted minnows in the salt-marshes, or took to the pine-woods and the granite quarries, or chased muskrats and hunted snapping-turtles in the swamps, or mushrooms or nuts on the autumn hills, summer and country were always sensual living...
In the Southwest we have a different duality than Adams's duality of summer and winter. The main one is cold nights and hot days. A second one is the contrast between early, dry summer and the cooler, wetter monsoons of late summer, arguably my favorite time of year here.

I love the daily drama and ritual of cloud buildup. There is always great relief when clouds block the murderous sun, but that still leaves suspense about getting real rain. After a successful conclusion recently, my dogs couldn't take it anymore: they had to get out of the RV and run in the field.

My 16-year-old miniature poodle, although mostly deaf and blind, scampered over the field like he was five years younger. Apparently his sniffer is working as well as ever. Even a human could smell the difference that a rain makes. What a wet field must seem like to them! It is beyond our imagination.