Sounds of Summer

This whole week is setting up to be very, very hot. A scorcher. It's almost akin to winter with everyone seeking shelter inside, only we still have night, and night is a beautiful world when summer has her wings around it. The stars, peeking through a denim sky, the moon and her milky glow spreading across every surface, the fireflies and their sparkling dance.

I haven't heard a locust yet. Or a cricket. But perhaps I haven't been listening. I'll make it point tonight, when the kids are out there running around, to pick out all the sounds of summer.

It used to be a lot of fun to sleep out on someone's screened-in porch on a summer night; like camping, but not as messy. We tried to have a seance once, but I freaked out and broke the circle, typical. We'd each named the person that we wanted to come through to speak to us: Kelly had John Wayne, my sister had Elvis, and I had Marilyn Monroe. Kelly, who seemed to be the expert in all things occult, started the seance, saying with stern expertise that the circle must not be broken or our ghosts would be set loose, and mad for having been woken out of their death sleep, follow us around forever. I didn't like the sound of that and started to plan an escape from the obviously-not-mom-approved ceremony. Kelly started to chant, and then called on each spirit, "Are you there John Wayne?" We listened patiently to hear a southern drawl to come out of nowhere. I swallowed hard, and started to wiggle my fingers nervously in each girl's clasp. No John Wayne. "Are you there Elvis?" Oh god, surely Elvis was too busy for some stupid girls from Kansas. We hadn't even brushed our teeth yet! No Elvis. "Are you there Marilyn?" I'd already lucked out twice, and didn't want to risk the rest of my human existence with this last taunt of the ghost stockpile. I yanked my hand away from the girls and then sat on my knees, penitent but relieved. "Sorry."
Kelly shrugged. "It's okay. Nobody was coming through but my grandmother anyway."

"Your . . . your grandmother?"

"Yeah. Hey, who wants to tell scary stories?"

That was the first rule of summer sleepovers: a certain level of fear must always be created and kept until each person had had enough or fallen asleep. Mosquitos rammed into the screen mesh, hungry. Brothers snuck around out in the darkness, contemplating pranks. Moms ate cookies and watched Dallas, while the air-conditioner whirred away in the front living room window.

Trains wailed by across the miles, like ghosts, true ghosts, fading into the night.


  1. Sleep-overs and camping out underneath the stars (or on the inscreened porch) is always nice! I am sure to be one of the last to fall asleep, I didn't like being pranked on! Who doesn't love a wonderful ghost story!!

    Mosquitos, locusts and more have been running around the Houston area, I'd say summer has officially arrived!

  2. Yup, summer's here too. But give it time and we'll be into storm season. You can't win. At least I've managed to mow everywhere; I thought I never would.

    I can hear the crickets as I write. Bisou, Cro.

  3. I'm jealous. Ten years in Florida equals one long hot summer. There's no appreciation of those fleeting moments we look forward to all winter. I've got to move back up north.

  4. Jen- Don't you wish you could be that age again, just for a night? It would be so much fun, but I'm sure I would be more than ready to come back and be the adult me, dishes and laundry and all.

    Cro- Mowing—not so fun.

    Matt- I don't think I could handle the humidity. But believe me, you'd get sick of winter really fast if you were in this area. It's a real drag.

  5. Amy - I dig humidity. Not necessarily the 90% everyday kind, but when I was out west it was far too dry. Too many bad hair days. And winter, I can handle. I lived in Michigan for 28 years.

  6. Oooh, then you know cold, big time!


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