The fountain murmuring of sleep,
A drowsy tune;
The flickering green of leaves that keep
The light of June;
Peace, through a slumbering afternoon,
The peace of June.
A waiting ghost, in the blue sky,
The white curved moon;
June, hushed and breathless, waits, and I
Wait too, with June;
Come, through the lingering afternoon,
Soon, love, come soon.
–“In Fountain Court” by Arthur Symons
June is a magical time in New Orleans. But the magic is not in the temperature. June is definitely not the best weather month—it’s when the air becomes really laden; June 1 marks the start of hurricane season; and don’t get me started on either the mosquitos or flying cockroaches. (Some call them Palmetto bugs, but I prefer to get straight to the point—these things are giant roaches that fly.)
So maybe part of the magic is this: the promise of something beautiful amidst these more miserable aspects. Arthur Symons wrote about “the flickering green of leaves that keep / The light of June.” For me, the light of June in New Orleans is a big piece of its magic puzzle. Now, Symons was a Welsh poet who died in 1945. I have to guess the light of the Junes he knew was a little different from mine—more northern, I suppose. But I also have to believe that there’s something universal about June in the Northern hemisphere, those days leading up to and away from the summer solstice.
Symons also wrote about waiting. “June, hushed and breathless, waits, and I / Wait too, with June.” Was he referring to something specific, or maybe just the quality of waiting in and of itself? Maybe he was referring to the solstice—the one day a year when light gets the best of darkness.
There’s something about June’s magic that had me set The Incident Under the Overpass during this month. Maybe it was because of the light, or maybe it was because the quality of waiting can help the “build” in a narrative sense. Or maybe it was just because it gave me an excuse to write about Maxfield Parrish skies, and the abundant, colorful, crape myrtle that bloom all throughout New Orleans this time of year.
June is also a challenge—if you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s something about the appeal of this month I find hard to articulate. Thus I explore it in fiction, in a blog post. Maybe if I keep trying, elucidation will come soon, love; come soon.
Alas, I’ve spent what time I had to spare today on those attempted articulations. Sorry for the disjointedness. But since I’ve heard a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some photos I’ve taken over the past four years, all within a month of the summer solstice. All in New Orleans, except the one with the water/beach. That was in Pensacola, which is not so far from here, and less than half a degree north in latitude. 🙂
Oh, also, the picture at the top of this post: if you look closely, it even has “the white curved moon,” like Symons’s poem.
3 thoughts on “June in New Orleans”
June in New Orleans is becoming my favorite. The college kids are gone, and all is quiet. School is out for summer, and traffic is light. You start getting the peaceful afternoon rain without the scorching heat of August and September.
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