It doesn’t feel that long ago that I spent many a summer evening sitting on a porch swing at a little old mill house that I rented in Athens.
I lived right by the train tracks and sometimes a train would pause there, and I’d watch and listen as it would idle, tick and hum. Back then, the sound of train never bothered me.
Usually it was quiet on that street. My neighbor’s old hound dog would limp into my yard and perk up when he saw my cat (then a kitten) as she swatted at bugs and chased squirrels up the pecan tree.
My husband is fond of telling me that I was lonely back then and that I hated my job, but never was I lonely when I sat on that porch, notebook in hand. I have always been fond of alone time, something that is scarce these days, and I have always been fond of summers in Georgia.
Last night my son and I were reading a children’s library book about summer, and it asked us what sounds we associated with summer? So after we read the book, we got out of bed and went over to the window, opened it and looked out into the nearly black summer night. It was unusually quiet, but as we strained our ears, we could hear the crickets in the woods. To our delight, a bird began to sing. I told my son to breath deeply and asked him if he could smell the musty air. Then we peered into the trees and spied some lightning bugs.
Reading that little book made me think of summers in my past that were long and slow, unlike the hurried days of motherhood where I find myself wanting to escape into the air conditioned house more and more. I used to tolerate the heat, and I miss that feeling of sinking into summer instead of this chaotic pace that we parents use while tending to children.
I’ll never forget the summer I spent in Japan. The climate on Shikoku Island was similar to that of Georgia, but some of the wildlife was a little different. I remember opening my window one night and hearing the loudest cacophony of frogs I have ever heard in my life! And I sorely miss the weekends when my Australian friend and I would bicycle around the area or what we did most often - take long walks by the rice fields.
One evening, in the light of a full moon, we took off our shoes and walked right into a rice field just so we could say that we walked IN the rice fields. Crazy, I know. But I still feel the prickly rice plants on my legs.
I also spent many years growing up in Las Vegas, and the summers there were quite different. The best times I had were while driving to Lake Mead or Lake Mohave with friends, letting the hot, dry wind blow through the car windows. Sunsets in the desert are beautiful as are the night skies. The stars are close enough to touch.
When my maternal grandmother, a life-long resident of Athens, visited us in her 80s, my mother took her out to the lake and Hoover Dam. When she saw the jagged red cliffs, she proclaimed, “Those are the funniest-looking mountains I ever did see!”
Too bad she didn’t live to see that all those summers I came to Georgia to visit her would one day call me back to live out the rest of my summers in this lush, green, albeit buggy and humid state. As long as I have a porch to sit on while listening to the crickets and birds, I’ll know that this is home.
Shelli Bond Pabis is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ah, Shelly...I loved this, reading about your summers in different places! I adore summer, though it is getting harder to tolerate the heat, it's all about the cycle of life. So many gifts this season, thanks for the reminder.