Summer Sounds by Marcia Helland

Summer Sounds hedIn winter I awake to silence – a deep, enveloping quiet – and I know that when the window shades are raised, I’ll look out on a white, powdery stillness everywhere.

In early spring I’m roused in the night by the terrifying shriek of the winds, the late February and early March gusts that won’t become the “gentle zephyrs” of poets’ songs till some balmy April morning.
Ah, but it’s the sounds of summer that greet me now, as I lie in my post-dawn cocoon, my throat feeling packed in a cotton fuzz, and thirsting for a glass of water, my drowsy lids blinking at the sun sneaking past the cracks in the shades. I can’t curl up amongst the covers as I did in winter, for it’s too warm for blankets and bedspreads. Besides, the sounds I’m hearing now are calling me to rise and shine, like the little birds of the Robert Louis Stevenson verse: “Ain’t you shamed you sleepy head?”

This is not a time for languishing, for snoozing for five more minutes, for re-setting the alarm. No alarm is needed. There’s the bird song, the cheer-ur of the orange-capped house finch, the warbling and ticking of the purple finch, the peter-peter of the tufted titmouse who’s been around since winter but has so much more to sing about on these dew-sprinkled mornings. Even the chickadee can vocalize now that summer’s here. He snaps out his name again and again, and I don’t have to see his black beanie and bib or watch his feisty poking at the  bird feeder to know he’s around.

There’s a meowing out by the spruce tree, and I wonder why the catbird, like several robins of past summers, has chosen to build her nest and launch her family amid those sharp stiletto needles.
A buzzing just outside the window tells me that the bumblebees are making their appointed rounds at the rose bushes.

Somewhere in the distance a chain saw hums and whines, indicating that at least one industrious neighbor is up and about, getting a head start on winter, cutting logs for the wood stove.
Shouts and giggles of boys, followed by silence, mean there’s mischief afoot. Soon a crackling and sputtering and finally a load pop announce the beginning of July fourth festivities. There will be more sporadic snaps and sizzlings throughout the day, and sparkles and whooshes tonight, as the neighborhood gets ready to celebrate the nation’s birthday.
Meanwhile, my snoozing pooch, curled tightly like a ball of string at the foot of my bed, uncoils himself dreamily, stretches, then manages a gentle “woof” as he senses the arrival of a canine pal somewhere nearby.

It’s time for me to stretch, too, time to wiggle my toes and step into those gloriously tattered and comfy furry slippers. It’s time to march (not shuffle as in winter) to the kitchen to pour the orange juice and start the coffee. Maybe I can even make it without coffee on this golden summer morning!
I sit at the kitchen table now, sipping my juice, watching the goldfinches at the thistle feeder. An intermittent series of poundings and silences announce that it’s fix-up time, home remodeling time, time to build decks, repair roofs, put up window boxes. Next, a more rhythmic tapping suggest that somewhere in nearby treetop a hungry woodpecker is looking for breakfast.

A light breeze rustles the curtains, a blue jay squawks in the branches of the cottonwood tree, a jet thunders overhead. Engines turn, dogs bark, lawn mowers whir. The morning noises of man and animal at work and children at play will soon yield to the afternoon sounds of splashing pools, the tunes of the Ding Dong cart, and the cacophony of rock music from the transistor radios of backyard sunbathers.
Evening will bring these sounds of outdoor living: the hum of family patio conversation, sizzling of barbecues, the hiss and splash of lawn sprinklers, the whack of bat hitting ball at neighborhood softball games, more firecrackers snapping in the evening air.

It’s a whistling, whirring, buzzing, peeping, tapping, whooshing, thumping, busy happy sound. It’s many different sounds. They’re a kind of music, these sounds of summer.

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