The triumvirate beckons

"I want to sweat, Sheila, truly sweat—the deep, lush sweat of summer. I want to feel it running down the small of my back, beading on my forehead, dampening the hair around my ears.

"I want to feel the sun so warm on my face that it feels like it's trying to get inside me, to drop me to the grass and wrap me in one continuous embrace of sensual bliss.

"I need my summer, honey."

Sheila looked away and tried to remember the aroma of perspiration against Jenny's sun-baked skin. She thought of the delicious hypnotic languor of July. She smiled a drunken smile and embraced her partner.

"This is the Minnesota woman in May," Sheila said. "This is the mind after eight long months without 85 degrees."

Across town in a backyard, beside a six-pack of Pabst, Jacob sat at a rotting redwood picnic table, deeply inhaling a Winston. His thoughts drifted back to the discomfort and faint shame of smoking in the cold downtown wind, outside the Hennepin County Government Center. Taking breaks from work last winter, he'd race through the nicotine with collar up and eyes down. Better to stare at icy sidewalks, he thought, than at the disapproving glares of passersby.

Now he was at ease. The tobacco was sweet, the sun was warm, and the drags were long and meditative.

He said to his brother, "I think God made summer for smokers," as he passed him the torn cigarette pack and lighter.

His brother slowly drew a smoke but said nothing. The word "summer" had stuck in his head. He let his eyes fall on the newborn flora surrounding him, as if, just then, it had all been put on parade for his approval.

Across the country, in Los Angeles, Barry was placing the finishing touches on post-production for a new recording that would be released in 10 days. The song would get extensive radio play on adult contemporary stations over the next three months and would become a favorite of Brianna and Neal, a young couple who'd meet at Grand Old Day in early June. They wouldn't stay together past autumn, but they'd always think of that song as the soundtrack of their romance, and of the summer of 2010. In later years Brianna would get in the habit of turning it off whenever it played on oldies stations because, for reasons she couldn't articulate, it depressed her.

Across town, school clocks ticked the seconds away. In the classrooms, the students fidgeted as the sun loitered outside industrial windows whispering like a voice from the Garden of Eden.

Near Lake Nokomis in south Minneapolis, Sam rolled slowly along the smooth asphalt in his parents' BMW. It wasn't cruising time quite yet, but it was getting close, just a few more degrees, a little more humidity, and a warming of the lake water. This is where he'd spend the majority of his weekend nights over the coming weeks. He imagined the warm shoreline and the feel of the water as he skinny-dipped with some girl, the liquid gold covering her breasts as her bare shoulders glistened above the water line. He wanted desperately to find a woman, someone to share his last summer at home before he joined the Navy in September.

At Target Field the shirts had yet to come off of the loud young men in the right-field bleachers. The vendors were sweating, but not like they would be in a month. The players talked in the dugout of the sweltering days ahead and the contrast it would present from air-conditioned afternoons in the Dome.

Near an office window, a few blocks from the ballpark and 600 feet in the air, a middle-aged woman in a tailored navy-blue pantsuit stared out over the city, taking note of the leafy canopy below that was filling in more and more with each passing day. She felt a pang of jealousy thinking of her sister, the teacher, who would soon be off for three months and spending her time gardening. She thought of asking her boss for some personal time. Her work on a Power Point presentation languished nearby.

Outside the window, a falcon flew past on its way toward the freeway at the borders of this glass jungle. It looked down on a city of pensive anticipation, filled with souls longing for a season of mysterious renewal, a Minnesota summer that recalibrated life's relentless march toward the abyss, that gave way to an adolescent joy in the simple exhilaration of the glorious outdoors.


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