Summer Should Sound Like Cicadas

The Generator: A necessary home ownership item when you get your power through the dictatorship of antiquated, outdated, outmoded, obsolete, desperately in need of repair ComEd lines.  Used to keep the refrigerator and sump pumps running.  Not used for air conditioning.

Sunday morning dawned bright, clear, and hot, or at least that was the weather when we crawled out of bed around 10:00 AM.  After weeks and weeks of so many things to do, we finally had a weekend of nothing so we took full advantage.

Once up, we hopped on our bicycles and pedaled down the prairie path to the Farmer’s Market.  The scent of fresh peaches, ripe and delicious, reached us before we’d finished locking the bikes to a pole.  Variegated corn on the cob at 25¢ per ear, a small basket of those wonderful peaches, one pound of rhubarb for cobbler making, a jar of mild sweet corn salsa, and several ounces of apple-wood smoked baby Swiss went in the backpack for the ride home.

Home and a large glass of water later, we ate a lunch of scrambled eggs topped with our new salsa and a side of melt-in-your-mouth, drip-down-your-chin peaches.  Sitting in our kitchen nook, we watched the sky change from clear crystal blue to menacing Dementor black.

The pale green prairie grasses, the vibrant purple cone flowers, the rich red Japanese maple began a slow sway in the gentle winds.  Within moments, they were whipping their fronds, their petals, their leaves in a heavy metal, hard rocking frenzy as nature’s breath grew to great gusting gasps.  The lights flickered.

We watched through the front storm door as rain sheeted across the street sideways.  The back storm door rattled and plastic Adirondack chairs with foot rests jumped, then slid across the patio to slam up against the wrought iron bar stools.  The rain barrel overflowed.  A tree limb sprung free from a large oak and whooshed down the roof of the neighbor’s garage to land on their hibiscus.  Marble sized hail bounced and skittered off the roof, driveway, hands of the outdoor clock.  Dishes were washed by candlelight.

From the basement came a shout.  Water was seeping in through a window well.  Pouring.  Fast hands on a push broom swept water to the sump pump and fought it back from the finished half of the space.  Only concrete and the bottom edges of pallets knew the cold chill of rainwater.

The rain stopped.  The wind died.  Thirty minutes of chaos, a tornadic maelstrom of weather.  Limbs down, debris in the street, on the lawn, flowers beaten into submission, petals kissing the dirt in front of them.  The ladder came out, the gutters were checked.  Maple leaf muck scooped out by the handfuls.  Take note: remember to clean the gutters when the thought first enters the mind so the basement stays dry.

Not my house. Not my neighborhood. But definitely one of many trees uprooted in my town.

The sun came back out.  The pavement steamed.  If it weren’t for all the things on the ground that should be on trees, no one would ever know there was a storm.  Except the power was still out and the humidity kept rising.  Hot, sticky, a warm blanket for a fever.

Night fell.  The candle stayed lit.  Flashlights sat on their butt ends, beams spreading across the ceiling, under chins.  No board games to play.  Cards.  Blackjack.  Crazy Eights.  Only one of us won almost every hand of every game.  If a store was open, that person would buy a lottery ticket.

Early to bed after quick rinse showers to cleanse the sticky salty sweat from tired bodies.  Lying atop the sheets, windows open, the soft roar of every generator at every house on the block lulled us to sleep.

Summer should sound like cicadas.

In my neighborhood, it sounds like generators.

What does summer sound like to you?

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