When I had my patio enclosed with a roof and screening all around, complete with two doors that opened to the yard, I had visions of sitting out there in the evenings with a friend and a cocktail or 2 in the quiet of the night. But the truth is, I rarely sat out there, except for an occasional rest from daily routines inside. I might write or read, but never for very long. It isn’t very much fun to sit out in the evening by yourself, so I would opt for my recliner in the living room for my end-of-day wind-down, especially since this summer has been way too hot for me to give up my blessed air conditioning.
But suddenly the promise of fall came at the beginning of August, as announced by the trillions of locusts in the trees in my neighborhood. I first heard them as I stepped out of the car after making the 4-hour trip from Chautauqua. I mean, as I opened the car door, the unmistakeable din of locusts announced that I was back in central Ohio. Every night, when I take Dora out for her last visit to the yard, I dress in long pants, socks, and long-sleeved shirt to avoid mosquito bites.
However, a few nights ago when the night air was cooler than the air in the house, and the neighborhood kids had stopped shouting, their parents had stopped partying on their decks, and the dogs had apparently gone to sleep, I found myself strongly attracted to the patio to listen to the locusts and katy-dids. It reminded me of summers at Grandma’s long ago in the country. I grabbed my knitting to finish a small project. Dora flopped down on the cool concrete floor and I felt the peace of the end of the day surround me. the noise of the bugs surrounded me too, but I knew I was protected by the screens. Knit 1 row. Turn it around and knit the next row, without another sound to interfere with my task or my thoughts. I might not have thought much of anything but finishing a row and starting the next in the silence of that little space surrounded by screens that protected me from the critters of the night. In time, I was down to the last stitch, and I held that little scrap of knitting in my lap and just sat and listened to the concert out there, all those bugs that would be disgusting to me if one of them got on me. But the thrum of their endless love-songs was somehow soothing. All that was missing was the call of the Whippoorwill that you only hear in the depth of the woods. But we live in the suburbs where only the locusts and katy-dids tell you it’s time to go to bed. So Dora and I reluctantly pulled close the patio doors, and returned to our oasis of quiet, carpets, and fresh clean sheets. We had already had our lullaby, so sleep came softly and easily, and I could only reminisce about that lonely whippoorwill calling out his incessant and persistent song. I used to wait all evening to hear it, back then at Grandma’s, and only when I heard that clear and repetitive song could I fall asleep. But on this night, I kept hearing in my head, “Katy did. Katy didn’t. Chigga chigga. Chigga chigga chigga.”
Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”
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