Saturday, August 9, 2008


Tonight, after the work barbecue, when I got home far later than I should have, Duncan and the kittens were waiting in the window for me, bleak, sad expressions on their faces as they thought of the dinners which should have been served three hours earlier. Winnie darted behind the big planter in the dining room while Pip scolded me from the back of the couch. Olive entwined herself between my ankles, as though either trying to endear herself to me or to cause a fall which could potentially result in my death. It was difficult to tell which. Only Duncan seemed genuinely happy to greet me, but he did it silently, clutching the maimed and disfigured thing that is all that remains of his Bah-Bah in his jaw, his hips swinging wildly back and forth. It was an unusual greeting, not his typical chirping and singing and I didn't wonder after it until well into our walk, down the dark lane to the mailbox, across the wide parking lot and back up the sidewalk in front of the property. It was a silent night with long empty and soundless spaces between the cars on Bowles which gave me time to hum the mantra from "Across the Universe," and actually hear myself rather than just feel the act of humming in my chest and throat. Duncan walked lazily beside me, no tension in his leash, a quiet, ambling sort of walk, keeping his body close to mine. I watched the stars while he watched the grass, we splashed in deep puddles which turned my flip-flops into slimy fish. We moved effortlessly beside each other, silent and listening.

And then over my humming, Jai Guru Deva, Om. Nothing's gonna change my world, came the sound of the crickets. It was a sound I didn't know I hadn't heard all summer until it slipped so casually into my head. How do you describe a sound you know so well but didn't know you'd missed until it was lost and then found again? Their song was like the sweetest fragrance of childhood or the discovery of a forgotten and never seen photograph of a lost loved one, or even the sight of a fat, full moon on the first night of real summer. It was... well, it was music to my ears, strange and familiar all at once, soothing and exciting, making me want to curl up on the patio where I could listen to them and only them while also enticing me to walk and walk and keep walking and not stop until after the sun had climbed the morning trellis and the chorus had retired.

What force had kept them silent all summer I do not know. I only know that their soft and rhythmic chirrup was the Om in my hum, the sacred beginning and end of this gentle night, the last free night of my summer, like the fluttering of butterfly wings against my cheek or a lullaby gift from the universe.


caboval said...

Oh that was beautiful! Im going to be taking an evening walk tonight with my ears open too! I would like to see the "Bah-Bah" by the way :)

Greg said...

I've been enjoying the crickets' songs the past week or so (actually, I'm re-reading A Cricket in Times Square, that old childhood favorite...).

Sounds like you've had some cloudy nights lately, which is what we've got coming most of this week ahead of us.

Hope it clears off for one of us, anyway, so we can see some of those meteor showers!!

Traci said...

I loved A Cricket in Time's Square! I remember I couldn't have been more than eight and I was reading it in the car and started bawling. My mom asked me, very concerned, "what's the matter?" and through my tears I managed to sob, "It's just so sad!" and kept on wailing.

good times.

dad said...

I'm deaf enough these days that I don't hear crickets. They're the same timbre as my tinnitus. I miss 'em. I don't even notice when they're in the house of singing "When You Wish Upon a Star."