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.