Today Austin is blanketed in a kind of oppressive heat. It becomes impossible to breathe deeply as you stumble through scratchy gravel kicked up by endless construction projects and squint tightly against the harsh, bleaching sun. It’s the kind of heat that makes one long for a 90 degree day. Even “hot” would be better than “sweltering.” Anything is better than this. And I’m starting to think “this” isn’t even categorizable. But it’s the drought that has done it, that has made Austin feel in June like it might in an ordinary mid-July. Temperatures rose too quickly and have hovered in the low 100s every day, for hours. There was no spring this year. Evidently the rain has been absent markedly since October, when news agencies report our drought began. It’s hot, all right.
And yet… And yet I have a hot cup of coffee. I just ventured out into the dizzying sun to get, not an iced beverage, but a hot coffee. What madness is this? It’s probably two things. Firstly, it’s always a bit chilly in my office, as it seems it is in every office. (Reports from friends confirm that they too work in igloo-like cubicles where a sweater would cary more weight when bartering than a fan would.) However, I sort of enjoy being a bit chilly. I find the experience of a cup of coffee, the way the warmth traces my fingertips, gradually creeping into my fingers and then warming me from the inside out with each cautious sip, far more enticing than a pathetic box fan spinning hot air into oblivion, hoping to emulate a happy breeze, but seeming more like a breath from a panting dog on my face. Secondly, I simply enjoy the coffee venture for the experience I have, the chance to think as I stroll down the hill and for the reward at the end (the whole point of the journey: coffee). And somehow, iced whatever just doesn’t hold the same eventual flavorful potential that a steaming cup of coffee with frothy milk lapping at the sides of the paper cup does. And I, after all, am very much a sentimentalist.
None of this is relevant to what I hope to do with this blog. But maybe, just maybe, it gives a sense of who I am so that we can begin as though we’ve already met.