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Peggy Barnhardt: On a hot day we crave iced tea

Peggy Barnhardt

Iced tea is a perfect metaphor for comfort, for the calming, refreshing effect it imparts — especially on a hot day filled with life’s ups and downs, and emotional upheavals brought on by personal experiences, or the channel eight news, which I turn on immediately upon rising to be informed of the overnight fiascoes.
The government scandals, the pop-rock star gossip and the raging forest fires here and there leave me disheartened and thirsty, so I proceed to the kitchen. There I am surprisingly greeted by a battalion, a line of small red ants, passing a crumb one to another to reach the crack in the side wall of the window over the sink, obviously leading to some outside citadel.
The hot, dry summer invites these visitors looking for moisture and, I imagine, the coolness of the air conditioner, which I relish too.
But now, spoiling their plans would be my immediate focus, breaking up their organizational effort, erasing the scented path ants are said to leave for repatriation, and destroying the envoys. Raid (the popular bug spray) does the trick, I think with glee. Boy, do I need a life. I recoil at the idea of this being the excitement of the day. I need to hurry and get out of here. Bathed and sun-block coated, I’m outty.
Destination is definitively unclear, but my interest is always centered in the observation of people, so my choices are endless. The intrigue begins even before making my exit — just looking out of the window a curious situation emerges, catching my mind’s eye.
The landscape workmen are out in force, milling around and feigning relative activity paralleling their job title — four men to fix one hole. Work agenda is as follows: one man is directing traffic that happens by every 25 or 20 minutes, since they are working in a cul-de-sac. One man is protecting the perimeter of the hole so that no wandering vagabond falls in; one man is holding a shovel that seems to be incapacitated by the malfunction of the would-be user; and one man is just looking, apparently measuring the depth with his eyes. A Fine Example of Our Tax Money at Work. LOL. I guess I can just be thankful that no one is bending over and displaying the crack of the land.
I make my way past this exuberant burst of ineptness, only to find the same ambiance a block down the road — different characters, same scenario.
City workers, supposedly repairing potholes in slow-motion in between breaks, evoke feelings of déjà vu coupled with hilarity in a nonsensical way and I have to laugh, lightening the mood.
The sun is three quarters up now, glaring through the slight cloud overcast that up to now had provided variegated patches of shade and heat relief. It is sunny most all the time on the leeward side of Oahu; it rains only enough to soften the color of the drought-brown flora to dusty beige or pale washed out want-to-be green at times. Fortunately, there are flowers that prefer sparsity, so there are still tropical delights afoot to feast one’s eyes on, as well as the avocado and mango trees that flourish.
From the mountain top I can see Pearl Harbor. A pictorial exhibition with its stellar ships, the aqua blue Pacific writhing to and fro and the myriad of small unrecognizable dots seen at a distance, creates a backdrop for imagined sagas and dramas to write about, fueling daydreams, all while I leisurely sip my iced tea.
Up until the last paragraph you may have thought that I was describing a day in Miami, the outer banks or anywhere in the USA that is hot, dry, humid and near a body of water. The epiphanic point is that people are people, having similar daily activities, comedy in motion all over the country.
Why not embrace the same likenesses and differences, and take a lesson from teas — they all come from the same plant, but artisans cans bring out the flavors. Share your iced tea and find refreshment.
Think about it.
Peggy Ann Barnhardt lives in Salisbury.

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