Smoke Near the Water

By staff May 8, 2007


Underscoring the buildup to summer showers.


By Hannah Wallace


Um, I was in the process of writing about something else, but I feel the need to comment on the obvious: It’s smoky as hell outside. (Nice how that infernal phrasal tic worked pretty well in this case.) I sincerely thought someone was burning leaves in my neighborhood when I got up this morning. Yes, yes, I should turn on the news; SportsCenter did not keep me informed of the wildfires in north Florida and Georgia. But it’s blowing my mind that it’s blowing down here.


Screw the sailboats; this is some cinematic scene-setting. I think I need to watch Apocalypse Now just to match the surreal yellow maleficence of the air outside.


(Ok, I admit I also wanted to out-spell Microsoft Word. It’s right, dammit; no, I do not want replace it with “malfeasance.”)


A summer of wildfires near Daytona preceded my sophomore (I think?) year of college; they’d housed firefighters in our dorm and when we returned in August, the whole place smelled like apparently all of Florida does right now.


But the smell isn’t the creepy part. Everything’s yellow. It reminds me of a scene from In the Mouth of Madness (the best B-movie ever made): Jurgen Prochnow is a horror author proving his evil omnipotence to Sam Neill. Prochnow says something like, “Isn’t your favorite color blue?” And Sam instantly wakes up on a bus, everything blue.


I woke up, and everything’s yellow.


I’ve got a friend itching to leave Florida. Says he wants be somewhere with weather that doesn’t stay near-flatlined through the year. Not that that’s not a legitimate preference. But I’ve got a soft spot for the subtlety of our seasons. I should keep a diary—like my own little almanac—to keep track of them, but (after nearly 28 years) I’m starting to get a sense for the progression. Now’s the time when everything holds its breath for the rain.


I was out with a guy once, a few years ago—we’d spent a May evening in Siesta Village. It was hot. It felt like months without rain. We’d been in Gilligan’s, which was teeming with people and stagnant air, loud, uncomfortably hot, and dizzying with manic activity. But at 3:30 a.m., we were in my quiet driveway saying goodnight, when all of a sudden it began to pour. No lead up, no one around, just: rain.


Obviously, the smoke is going to clear any second now. It just reminded me of the sort of relief we have to look forward to.
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