During the afternoon, the heat is oppressive. Not in the heavy way like the humid East, but dry and searing, like the southern deserts. And no place is it hotter than my back deck. Intensified by reflection, the sun bakes the wood while calescent wind swirls like a convection oven. The outdoor rug ingests the heat, and the black door mat brands the skin of your sole with grill marks. There is no escape on the back deck – no shade and no mist and no relief on the 240 square foot pyre.

As the sun collapses, spent from her efforts in the kitchen, a wondrous change takes place beyond the patio doors. Redemption and transformation – the inferno becomes paradise.

Above you, the pale, faded sky has taken back her hue – inky and intense, an indigo ocean. The hot wind of high noon has softened, caressing skin with cool affection. Languid stems are invigorated by a late-day irrigation, the last bits of light glinting off their strands of water pearls. Birds begin their song, not the chirps of mid-morning but the melodic intervals of an evening prayer. In chorus, the frogs join in, their throaty baritone croaks bringing support to the winged sopranos.

As the darkness deepens, the patio lights flicker on, rhythmless, one strand at a time. The resident artists, awakened by a silent beckoning, begin their nightly plein air creation. One thread at a time, with driven precision, they spin and drop, ascend and weave, knitting a meridian stretched flat. And just as quickly, they double back, etching ripples through the time zones.

The stars blink awake, bleary-eyed and slow. Watch long enough and you’ll catch one in flight – a dying ember in a sky of ancients. A dutiful satellite meanders through the vault, weary of her orbit. The smoke of a distant campfire wafts lazily by, and as a sip of cool liquid passes your lips, the conversion is complete.

The deck, now baptized by nightfall, is born again.

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