I flew from the swamps

Seeking the cool summer breezes of the mountains,

But the hot air of the lowlands swept up over the ridges

And settled upon me,

A heavy, wet blanket

I could not throw off.

I live in a place known for warm, but not sweltering, summer days with blue skies and relatively low humidity. Having grown up just outside the former swamplands of Washington, DC, the summers here at the edge of the Appalachian Mountains have been a sweet relief from childhood days spent glistening with sweat. Recently, however, DC’s summer weather seems to have migrated west, up and over the mountains to find me.

The heat waves of summer began arriving in March, when we should have been grousing about our last snows. Intermittent temperature swings froze us and thawed us, froze us and thawed us, eventually killing all the saffron bulbs I’d so carefully planted in big pots on the deck. By June, the heat had a firm grip on the reins, and brought with it a haze of humidity unusual in these parts. Currently, dew points regularly climb above 70 degrees, the atmosphere so heavy with wet that the air loses its grip, unleashing afternoon storms. Torrents of rain, accompanied by great booms of thunder, rush to the ground with astounding ferocity and then stop as if flowing all along from a pipe that’s been suddenly pinched off. These storms do nothing to cool the day. Within a few minutes of starting, the rain is gone, the sun is back, and the humidity is all the more unbearable for the puddles scattered about to evaporate back into the atmosphere. Sounds familiar to many of you, I know.

I created this mandala art, titled Magma Chamber, on August 10, 2022, while under a flood watch due to impending storms. Perhaps the rain, should it choose to arrive, will finally snuff the fire out, at least for a day or two.

Magma Chamber is available in the shop as an art card. Check out these photos of the Fagradalsfjall volcano on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula, posted by NPR.

Linda Gribko is an avid gardener, naturalist, author, artist, and photographer living just outside Morgantown, West Virginia, on a one-acre property she calls Yellow Bird's Rest. She's been gardening since the age of three, when she was put to work plucking rocks from the family vegetable patch, and was gifted her first growlight set-up at the age of eight. Linda is best known for her wildflower photography and the digital mandala art she creates from her nature photos, but is also a mixed media artist and published author. Her quirky first novel, "Giving Voice to Dawn", was published in November 2016 and was followed up with "The Lion's Apprentice" in June 2020. The series follows the magical romp of a woman plucked by the Universe from the cubicles of Corporate America and dropped into the crease between "this world and that" where Spirit Animals carry messages, disembodied voices spout wisdom, and you never know who might show up to walk you back home.

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