Today has been a hot one along the riverbank. Ninety-one degrees an hour ago. But worse than the heat was the humidity, which wasn’t helped by the hard morning shower that poured like gangbusters for a quarter hour, then sputtered and drizzled an additional twenty minutes, like a guest who can’t seem to say good night, but keeps lingering by the front door, nibbling on those cookies you always keep handy to the porch. In its aftermath, the river and bankside vegetation steamed briefly with rising vapors, as the sun reappeared and began turning up the burner. From then on it was hot and muggy all the way—a green sauna which seemed to sap the energy like a vampire sucking an artery, while reminding me anew why I’m not all that keen on Ohio’s summer. Of course, technically speaking, summer is yet a day and a solstice away. What kept me under a shade tree, sprawled on the chaise longue with a sweating glass of iced tea clamped permanently in my hand, was actually spring’s last hurrah, a sultry seasonal send-off that I could have done without, thank you very much. The good part is that a few minutes ago I heard thunder rumbling to the west; the bad part is I’ve just checked the National Weather Service’s local radar loop and it shows absolutely nothing on the screen. But it was thunder—distant, yet unmistakable—and I have faith…well, hope, anyway. And it goes without saying the weather oracles don’t always get it right, in spite of their fancy gear. Heavy thunderstorms are predicted for late tonight; a “hazardous weather outlook with possibly severe rains” as those who claim to know put it. Oh, goody! I’ll get to perspire in bed until 2:00 a.m. and then have to worry about possible flooding. No doubt the grass will appreciate the additional rain—after all, today’s heat has probably slowed its growth rate to not more than a half-inch per hour. I cut the stuff on Monday, and already the squirrels bounding around under the sycamores disappear between leaps. Still, what’s a bit more rain to close out this year’s installment of spring? It has already rained three out of the last four days…and possibly twenty out of the last thirty, though I’ve not kept track. A lot of rain, nevertheless. Enough that if I were a more righteous man, I might have begun listening for an on-high voice telling me to start constructing a rather large boat in the side yard, and to expect a great many animals to be arriving two-by-two. The only saving grace in all this is that yesterday I installed the big fan in the great room window. This isn’t one of those piddly “box” fans from the local hardware. This is a fan that’s at least as old as I am, built back in the days when manufacturers took pride in making their products as indestructible as possible, and “planned obsolescence” was not only an unimaginable business principal, but one they would have been ashamed to have heard about, let alone applied to the design of merchandise coming off their assembly line and bearing their name or trademark. It’s the sort of fan that is made to go in a window and move air—lots of air. You can turn it on low, venting out, open any window in the house, and feel the force of the incoming breeze; turn it on high and it will blow your hat off in the hall. In summer’s heat, this efficient-if-venerable fan is my salvation. I don’t like air conditioning. When temperatures soar into the one-hundred-plus range, I still prefer a breeze over refrigeration. My old fan fulfills my needs. Moreover, there are ample ceiling fans scattered throughout the cottage to really keep the interior air currents swirling. However, at the moment—sitting outside, watching the sun sink into a noticeably cloudless sky—I feel about as limp and drooping as the leaves on the weeping willow I photographed following this morning’s rain…and not one bit impressed by spring’s idea of a send-off.