Steam Bath

3 Jun

Opening the kitchen door is like opening a burning oven, only the blast of heat will not dissipate with the closing of the door. The fire in the stove burns, slowly cooking my family’s lunch, and as I reach for the wooden spoon lying on the counter, a drop of sweat slowly travels from my forehead all the way down my nose. It rests for a moment on the tip, trembles, is about to fall, but I manage to put down the lid I hold in my other hand and I smear the offending drop of salty water all over my face.

My hands feel sticky. I wash, but the water is hot. My upper lip is studded with beads of shiny, salty sweat. My eyelids are moist, my cheeks are red, and the fine hair behind my neck is stuck to my skin. My shirt is wet down my front. I sigh as I stir the pot. Only a few more minutes.

I open the refrigerator and pour myself a bit of cold water. I swirl it to cool the cup. The shock of the cold water sometimes cracks the glass. I drink the water and then get some more. I go back to the stove and as I walk I dry my face with my shirt.

It is done. The blue flames die as I turn off the gas but the sizzling goes on. The steam will finish the cooking so I cover the pot tightly. Maybe I have time for a bath.

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3 Responses to “Steam Bath”

  1. charlotteotter June 3, 2007 at 11:36 pm #

    Although I grew up in Africa, I seem to have forgotten such heat. European summers are delicate wispy cousins to the robust summer you seem to be having.

  2. lvmg June 4, 2007 at 10:35 pm #

    It was 44 degrees two days ago. I’m used to hot summers, but the difference is the lack of central air conditioning, which is the norm in the U.S.

    I was telling my husband how come I don’t remember the summers of my childhood in Latin America being this hot. I guess when you don’t know anything different it becomes natural.

  3. Tai June 7, 2007 at 7:36 am #

    Ah, this is so evocative. Reminds me of the times I’ve been in the tropics, when the air is so thick that breathing takes an effort.

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