White Heat, Desert Summer
Jane St. Clair
Author of Walk Me to Midnight
I don’t think there is a place as quiet as the Sonoran desert in summer noon. The temperature is an impossible 119 degree inferno in the shade but then, there is hardly any shade. I call it “white heat.”
It is the white quiet heat that rises and radiates above the quick licking tongues of fire. White heat, a white aura rising from the desert ground. White heat bleaching away the colors from the desert so everywhere you look, it is faded and brown.
Noel Coward said only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun, and he was right. It is madness to stand out here. No one and nothing is out here, which is why it is so quiet.
The silence is all encompassing – nothing stirs, not even the tips of trees. Desert colors are subtle, mostly a series of pastel greens, but the white heat and the silence fades them.
I can see for miles and miles and miles past the mountain ranges and into skies a hundred miles away, and nothing moves, not even a leaf. I can see for miles and miles, but I can’t hear anything at all.
Why listen for a leaf? — cactus don’t have leaves – their leaves have shriveled up into prickly needles eons ago, sturdy little stubby things that stand up and bloom in the noonday sun. I admire them.
Where is everyone? It is so silent here, it is so quiet. Nothing stirs, not even the tips of trees.
Everyone has gone underground where it is cool or else they are sleeping under cool rocks. They are sleeping and they will do their foraging by moonlight.
A kitfox ..
They are sleeping, sleeping past the noonday sun. It is so silent, it is so quiet as Brother Sun casts down his white heat rays. Summer heat, white heat, so very very hot.
Mercifully, Brother Sun is walking to the other side of Mother Earth.
Now the creatures will come out and they will dance by the light of the moon. They will dance all night until the desert sleeps again, until she sleeps in the white heat of summer.