5.5.12 The equinox pretty nearly marks the beginning of the spring season in Charlottesville, but summer outpaces its solstice. The fleeting flowers of the azalea and the rose have given way to the sturdier orange and pink of the lily and the crepe myrtle. At night, the deep purple of the creeping wisteria vines has blanched and receded to a few high shady pockets. The noble hydrangea rules, its blue lit lamps fairly pulsing in the humid darkness. And then the fireflies’ signal. Summer here. Summer here. Summer here.
Blue Hole. Tom Daly photo.
It’s nice to live in a place with human seasons that coincide with the natural ones. UVA graduation came and went, and the town let its belt out, marking the transition to our part-time economy in tourism. I saw soldiers from another century stalking Court Square as Lena and I made the rounds, a Confederate infantryman clad in butternut leaning on his rifle by the blacksmith’s anvil, all under the gaze of General Lee. Just a few short blocks away, LOOK3 populated the trees with photography. By the Free Speech Wall, Hank Willis Thomas’ exhibition mixed metaphors, superimposing the language of Nike and Gatorade over the tortured iconography of the Jim Crow South. Strange fruit, but sweet.
About a week ago, on the first sweltering Sunday, I drove straight out Barracks Road to Blue Hole for a swim and never once thought about the cars. If you ever wonder where everybody goes on a hot day, head out that way. I drove past some Latinos who had turned a switchback in the Moormans into a holiday camp with a field kitchen; I saw endurance athletes of many shapes and ages clad in a rainbow of polyurethane fiber staging from a parking area by the dam; I walked beside families in bathing suits and sandals, lots of them, with their dogs and kids, searching for the right place to swim; I smiled knowingly at the party boys, with their coolers and folding chairs; and I passed a lone fly fisherman, overwarm in his waders, tramping back to his car. School’s out for the summer. Let the healing begin. —Giles Morris