Company for a week. Internet down for another. Toss in a pseudo family reunion and our daughter’s 20th birthday and I am way off kilter here. I'm struggling to catch up. Here's a repeat from a couple of years ago. It still works for me.
I love August around here. It’s a no-brainer that my passion for this month coincides with the anniversary of our daughter’s birth, but in addition, those first-ever middle of the night feedings awakened me to sounds of late summer I’d never paid attention to before.
While growing up, I treated the month with a vague unease. August supplied plenty of bathing-suit-clad and barefoot amusement, replete with scabbed over mosquito bites acquired during sunset games of Hide and Seek—but the eighth month also meant the horrors of back-to-school shopping and shoe wearing loomed all too close.
Long after those days ended for me, I still greeted August with an edgy regret for the endings it engendered—perennials dying in the garden, tinges of yellow on the tomato plants, the hint of red in low lying trees. Then, eighteen years ago, I sat by open windows with a mewing baby in my arms and heard, for the first time really, a nocturnal orchestra that begins mid-month and serenades us until the temperatures cool for good.
For the longest time, we assumed the quick and rhythmic pulsing that permeated our August nights were crickets; until recently though, we were never sure. Lack of knowledge led our little family to christen the high fidelity tempo “The Waa Waaas,” our approximation of the revving, high-pitched heartbeats that gear up just as summer winds down. YouTube research revealed the maestros of this syncopation I’ve come to love could be Katydids—what I know for sure though is that ever since discovering them during that first sleepless August, I look forward to the waning days of summer, when they assemble to tune their instruments.
So when we stepped outside this past Sunday night to bid goodbye to guests and noticed the music for the first time this year, I stood in the driveway to breathe in the thwacking vibration. Each year, it’s a sound that foretells the shadows deepening under the pines, the daylily stalks drying to straw. Yet the nostalgia it triggers is a heartwarming reminder of a blessing once received amid this cacophony of noise.
Later that night, I lay in bed, awake, but soothed by the continuous beat. To some degree I suppose, I’ll always experience regret when summer winds down, but it’s never as bad as it used to be—because as the season fades, the rasping scrape of wings gear up, providing an acoustic memory of a time that resonated with joy.