May 13, 2014
These Hot Spring Nights, Part 2
It is several hours before midnight. The ghetto bird is up, as I predicted, and is hovering loudly directly across from my open breakfast nook window, stopped and searching over the nearest major boulevard several blocks away. The police car sirens have sounded and silenced, but the chopper blades whack at the still air.
Hot, unmoving air seems to carry sound more efficiently and loudly. Have you noticed? Neighbors’ voices carry up the street. The footfalls of a passing pedestrian resound up through open windows. It would be hard to sneak around on a night such as this, which is probably a good thing, since everyone’s house is opened up, except the homes retrofitted with air-conditioning.
We breached the triple digit mark today (Fahrenheit), and it is expected that we will do so again for at least two more days.
I sat out on the brick porch for some time tonight, in the dark, in post-lawn-watering coolness, porchlight off to prevent being mobbed by vigorous moths. Two streetlights are still out, and the moon appears full tonight.
The police helicopter has gone now, the arrest presumably made or the chase abandoned. The cricket chirp-scrape persists without respite. I would actually be afraid if it did stop; I would fear the looming apocalypse, or the approaching earthquake. It’s rarely a good sign when the crickets fall suddenly silent.
It appears too hot, though, for Mr. Arthur, the mockingbird. The last bird I heard was the dove, while the sun was still up. But wait…is that warble in the distant background Mr. Arthur waking, warming up? Or is it just the noise from someone’s too-loud headphones, wafting up the street and around the corner? Have I mentioned that noise carries extra well on heated, unmoving nights like this, despite the steady dull-roar of traffic?
A cool breeze teases, for a moment or two, refreshing the heart, but then trails away to court another block, leaving us in stuffiness.
The night feels as though we should be sitting on brownstone stoops sipping hooch and singing Gershwin tunes; or lolling in hammocks swatting mosquitos and searching out fireflies while sweating sweet tea.
But instead I sit on a hard chair, bathed in blue computer light, and listen to neighbors cough, and dog collars clink while owners’ feet shuffle through brittle leaves on concrete, and the refrigerator compressor drip and whirr; and gaze on the moon through sodium-orangey light. The high moon casts shadows and is almost bright enough to read by.
Tonight I will sleep with too-few clothes on, but with shorts and shoes nearby for quick grabbing in the event of shifting faultlines. Please, God, don’t let the power go out tonight.
I love your meditation. I have done this, too, and never thought that being fully present enough to notice all of the details was meditative, but it really is. I’m doing it now, for the first time in this house. I have a new location to explore, and notice. Thank you for the reminder.
Denise, I LOVE that you’re exploring and *noticing* at your new beautiful cottage! I love the unfolding process of discovering the rhythms of a place. Enjoy this process.
I love, love, love the voice in this piece. Actually, I loved the whole thing!
OMG, Crystal! High praise coming from you. Thank you!
Beautiful writing. Put me right there, hearing, feeling the heat…
Debbie, thank you! Sometimes I’m afraid that my descriptive writing doesn’t have a significant enough point (the “so what” factor, as I say to my students)…but maybe it’s okay that sometimes the point is simply to transport the reader for a short time. Thanks for that affirmation.
Can you make a country girl feel like a city girl, if only for a moment? I love how your writing plucks me out of my life, and drops me into yours from time to time.
So cool, Denise! Thank you for that! I might wish for transporting as a superpower. 🙂
It is a bit sad to think of us all enclosed in our little spaces instead of out on those steps listening to tunes and visiting. That was one of the neat things when I was down with mom and dad two years ago. After dark when the temperature finally got down to the high 90’s a bunch of their neighbours would pull chairs up in a circle and visit in the cooler night air.
I agree, Linda. That was a different time, huh? Some parts of our extended neighborhood do such activities, but our part not so much. We’re perhaps a little too urban with a little too much turnover for such things. Makes me a little sad, too.
I am hoping that when I move and will have a step to sit out on, I might be able to begin connecting. I have connected some here. Some of my neighbours have offered to help with my move. But on the whole, this has been a lonely place to live.
The thing is, even when you go to public places, so often people are enclosed in their own groups and there is still limited interaction.
Or stuck with their noses in their smartphones. I’m sorry about the loneliness. Makes the Facebook and other social media phenomenon understandable, doesn’t it?
Why does it take tragedy to unite us and make us interact?
So often it does. I know that I don’t plan on getting a Smartphone for awhile. It would be to easy to become glued to it. In my area though, it is not having any outdoor leisure area that we can interact in so people either go to parks or are inside. Hoping to find some difference where I am moving because I have often seen people outside when I have gone by there.
I will hope on your behalf, too.
😀 (So do you!)