Summertime, and the living is queasy. When we haven't had non-stop torrential rain and thunderstorms, the temperature has hovered in the mid-30s Celsius (90 - 95 Fahrenheit) with 99 percent humidity. The ground feels spongy and the air is so leaden you can almost see it coagulate into sweaty droplets before your eyes. Grey mold stains creep across walls, and mushrooms sprout from our wooden garden gate.
Is there anything pleasant about summer?
One thing, at least. The beginning of summer marks the start of lychee season. This morning our neighbor Mr. Tam brought us a big bagful harvested from his tree. On the other side of the village, trees lean over the stream, weighed down with clusters of eyeball-sized fruit. Unfortunately, our two lychee trees haven't been very generous. They were neglected for decades before we moved in, then went through the trauma of our house reconstruction and concrete additives irresponsibly poured onto the ground. We guess that they'll take a few more years of nurturing to completely recover. Mr. Tam must have felt sorry for us.
Or was he trying to unload them? There's a Chinese saying: One lychee, three torches. Meaning, lychees are a "hot" food, which can cause dry skin and burn your inner organs. Well, what do you expect from a fiery red bomb which heralds summer?
I don't care. Lychees are my favorite fruits of all, beautiful to look at, syrupy sweet, a unique flavor that makes a tongue want to pirouette. Obviously God made lychees to trick the rest of us into looking forward to the south China summer.