Summer lies over the city like a wet blanket. The air is so humid you could slice it, put butter on it, and eat it. The slightest movement requires effort; thinking too hard might cause one to break a sweat.
Inspiration doesn’t come as easy now that it has to swim through the pea soup my brain seems to have become. And yet, if I am very still (which I want to be anyway, in this heat), I see it everywhere.
As someone who dreams things up, literally, I can sit on a park bench and make up a story about the steady parade of ants at my feet. I people-watch, noting details about those who pass, making up stories about them. I sit and daydream by the lakeshore and ideas will float through my head like the puffy white clouds that float over Lake Ontario.
Last night, at 3:02 a.m., I crept down to the living room for a break from the oppressive heat upstairs. I sat curled up on the sofa, gazing out the window, thinking the most I would see at that hour was a raccoon or two. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a gangly young man came galloping up the street. At first I thought he might be running from someone; I drew back into the darkness, afraid. Then, as he slowed to a walk right in front of our house, he proceeded to test the doors on each and every car parked on the street. His shaggy blond hair glowed in the streetlights. I watched him and wondered how he came to be here on this Monday morning, running, seeking an illicit opportunity. I didn’t know this boy; I don’t want to know this boy but a story followed him up the street, like Peter Pan’s shadow.
Almost more interesting than the blond 3:00 a.m. thief was the next pedestrian who happened by at 3:45 a.m., with bags of what looked like groceries. He seemed completely unconcerned at the hour; he walked casually, unhurredly. There is a 24 hour grocery store near but he came from the wrong direction. Where had he come from? Where was he going? Would he encounter the blond boy further up the street? Were they partners in crime? Did the bags contain lettuces or loot? Another story…
I used to rely on dreams for my story ideas and over the years, dreams have served me very well. I tend not to dream when it’s hot outside like it is now although I had a great one about my late dog Boomer the other night. In the dream he still lived but got separated from us in a new neighbourhood and we thought him lost for good. Then one day off in the distance, we saw him standing on a high, treeless ridge. Next to him was a large wolf. Another story to be born? Family pet finds new life in the wild – or, he might be a spirit dog haunting a wolf pack or the story might be a woman who sees them is slowly going insane and the family pet and the wolf are hallucinations. A picture her on the Bloor subway line flashes through my head; she looks up and sees large wolf and a friendly Black Lab in the seats across from her…Endless possibilities abound.
The heat forces me to slow down, forces me to quiet myself. In the quiet, heavy stillness inspiration appears where I least expect it. Despite the heat, I feel refreshed and ready to write.