My camera dies a drained battery death, now it's just excess baggage. I leave it on a fence post to pick up on the way home. (That's how it is where I live, safe that way.) MY pace picks up; I'm storming the trail, feet keeping pace with the internal chatter I seek to escape, or more accurately to silence, or at least to tame. My ears have been ringing for months, but abruptly I realize the present chirp-buzz-click is external. I am surrounded by unseen cicadas, crickets, and God knows what else. (He does!) "The hills are alive with the sound of…crickets…"
I know some cricket facts: -Over 900 species of crickets exist worldwide and we have at least nine varieties here in Pennsylvania. -Only the males sing-chirp by running the top of one wing along the teeth at the bottom of the other wing, NOT by rubbing their wings together.
And, I know some cricket lore: -Crickets have been considered a sign of good luck for thousands of years in far eastern as well as Native American culture. -In some circles, it is believed that the more crickets you have singing in your home, the more wealth your household will enjoy.
I even know (of) some famous crickets: - Jiminy Cricket, and - Chester Cricket better known as The Cricket in Times Square.
But the truest thing I know about crickets is that they are a sign of the beginning of the end of summer, and at the moment, all of the Pennsylvania varieties seem to be making the same announcement. When did they start this? I wonder. We had that sleep-stealing heat wave a few weeks ago, put a little a/c in our bedroom window, listened to white noise for a few nights, took it out, and – crickets.
Aughhhh, I gasp (again.) Not the end of summer yet, I'm not ready (again.) It's gone too soon, too fast (again.) I didn't see this coming…or going?! (again.)
Not so, says Jeff O'Brien, a favorite writer of mine whom you've (probably) never read. Your loss. I just read this in his book, Seasons in Upper Turkeyfoot: "The change (of seasons) is neither fast nor slow; the seasons change gradually and continually." And so I look around. I listen (again.) And now I see what's been happening gradually and continually around me.
Manifold greens shine again, after drought quenching rains, but these are different, deeper greens, more mature and settled than the flirty greens of spring.
The moss looks tired along the path, and sunlit clearings are dappled with goldenrod.
Chipmunks scold and "tuwwhit" more than they did in early summer, and where are "my" birds?
The indigo bunting is nowhere to be seen or heard, and even the grackles are gone as are most of the robins.
I stand beside the cat-tail swamp, and it is silent as a cemetery where redwing blackbirds frolicked and fussed over their nesting territories oh so recently.
I realize too late I forgot to look for phoebe but I know her nest is emptier than mine, and she's probably moved on.
The nightshade berries are turning purple-black, and wizened blackberries bend seedy heads toward the earth, offering food to creatures preparing for what is surely coming.
The signs are unmistakable, summer is slipping quietly away, and autumn is on the move and has been for some time. "The change is neither fast nor slow…"
I want to put the brakes on, find the pause button, or just stop everything for an afternoon or three. I have not taken the time to look, to listen, to walk attentively in this place. And I have missed so much. I've been preoccupied, again, and thus caught off-guard, again. "Preoccupied with society and our place in it, we age in ignorance, caught up in the transitory." Jeff O'Brien again. He's right, and I will write it here. "Time speeds up only when we ignore it." So true, so very true. Conversely, if I take time to be fully present in this moment, I feel momentarily quiet, stilled, at rest.
And so, today, I will pause and breathe in the fragrance of the butterfly bush. (And I will not be alone!)
I will look up at flat bottomed clouds against a back drop of mountains drawn close in a no-humidity sky.
I will not ignore time...