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Amber Paulen


4 September 2009


Summer is thick light, white, bright and dusty. It’s sticky sweat drenched clothes stuck—every movement is an effort, working one’s way through water: heat. The piazza is dirt strewn and shit stained and the sun burns you into a blind white infinity. Where the sky is always white-blue and to walk is always hot and to think is very difficult.

Three summers ago, when we first moved to Bracciano, driving along the Braccianese or looking out of the sentinella, it was the sheer dry death of summer that shocked me. Mediterranean summer. Large patches of field and grass burned light tan. Verdant summers will always be lush in my mind—in Michigan it’s the greenest time of year. I thought all that dryness was bad or strange and unusual. I thought it had all burned irreparably dead.

Then September comes. Almost on cue with the calender: the first rain. The first rain is always torrential, opening the humid sluice closed up all summer long. And like breath blown into a corpse, water awakens the grasses, the fields, the earth: life again.

The first time I ever lived in Italy was the summer of 2003. This was a summer lots of old people died. From June to September precisely, all of Rome suffered the same oppression: Heat. Afa, as they call it here. On the first of September to the letter came the first rain in months. Suvi and I ran to Santa Maria Maggiore to dance our liberation under it.

Last night came the first of the rains. Water poured from the sky torrential. Today there was less thick dusty whiteness and way up, the heavens were polished crystal blue. The wind blew fresh today. It blew and blew. Something has changed. The seasons are turning like the face of a dial. What seasons do best: turn and turn.

My perceptions of the turning seasons has heightened as I’ve grown older. Moving continents or latitudes and longitudes throws the radar out of whack for a bit, but only for a bit. There it is, staring me straight in the face, a reminder of my mortality. Watching fall come brings a certain vast sadness. This passing into coldness. It’s coming. I know it is.



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