Growing up in a small town on the eastern shore of Maryland had a lot of advantages I never really appreciated until I was older. A lot older, as you some of you may say.
But summer some 60 years ago took on a whole new meaning from today. It was less hectic, quieter, and more relaxed than it is today. (And not nearly as hot as this year.)
Because we lived just outside of the town limits, our house was surrounded by two small fields and a woods (which seemed really big back then). There were fields across the road as well, and we watched the corn all summer as it grew and grew, eventually hiding the homes across the road, growing to reach its potential for the fall harvest.
Just a quiet rural setting. No crime. No violence. No video games or cell phones.
Back then almost every summer evening was filled with the singing of crickets and frogs, and fireflies lighting up the night as soon as it started to get dark. We’d look forward to catching them and then seeing how many it took to light up the dark corners of our rooms. (Thank goodness my mom always came in and let them escape back outside after we were asleep.)
I remember many nights falling asleep on the glider in our big screened porch listening to the crickets and frogs serenading their friends as well as my mom and me. What wonderful sounds they made. Plus it was cooler out there since we had no air conditioning.
There were some nights during those summers that it was so hot we could look out in the distance from that wonderful porch and see what we called “heat lightning”…silent flashes of light in the distance with no cracks of lightning or thunder, or even any signs of rain.
And the air was so clean, so clear, we could gaze up into the night sky and pick out the constellations. Sometimes we’d even drive down to the bay and listen to the waves lapping against the small pier that was left over from a long ago storm. The sky there was even clearer and the stars easier to see. And when it happened to be a full moon, it was absolutely breathtaking.
Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days. Sure, we have our Jeremiah the bullfrog who likes to sing to us in the back yard after a summer rainstorm, but it’s just not the same. We haven’t been able to find him, or his wine we’ve heard that’s mighty fine, but we still get to listen to him, and he sure sounds happy.
What about the fireflies? I can’t remember the last time we saw any. Crickets? I haven’t heard them chirp in ages. And come to think of it, we see very few honeybees…and they used to fly all around in those distant summers, gorging themselves on all manner of blooms on bushes and flowers, and pollinating everything in our gardens.
How about butterflies? I haven’t seen many of those recently either, and we have a lot of flowers and flowering bushes in our backyard. They used to fly around the yard all summer when we were growing up.
Yes, I do miss those summers. And I actually appreciate the memories of them much more than I ever thought I would. Because it was an easier way of life, or it seemed to be, because we were still growing up, and still had our innocence and the belief that these little things would always be a part of our lives.
Now they are only memories in my mind’s eye, stored in a database of pictures only I can see. But they’re there, and I wish you could see them, too.
The sounds and sights of summers in times past….these are my memories.
What are yours?