By Brenda Buchanan
I’ve paid special attention to my senses when writing this summer. Regular readers of this blog might have guessed as much when I wrote in July about summer’s indelible scents. Today I want to talk about the richness of the aural backdrop, the sounds that bring the world (real and fictional) to life.
It’s August (sigh), so let us consider the noises that define the warm weather months.
Fireworks in the distance are one defining noise of the season. We live only a few miles from Hadlock Field, where the Portland Sea Dogs celebrate every home run with a brief explosive display. Some nights also feature full-on fireworks shows, which we can hear but not see. Boom. BoomBoom. BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM.
Missing out on the visuals is not an issue around the Fourth, when local backyard pyrotechnicians go crazy on the two summer days when it’s legal to set off fireworks in our city.
I’m as patriotic as the next gal, but am always glad when July 5 rolls around and the sound of black cats, fountains and roman candles no longer punctuates the midnight stillness.
Driving with the car windows wide open invites other people’s summer songs into my life, and allows me to share mine with them. This year the hit that seems to wafts my way at every stoplight is the cool and catchy Desposito by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee.
I rarely crank the radio myself, but when The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer in the City comes on, the volume knob gets a big twist. I’m dating myself, I know, but (like Desposito) it’s got a great beat and you can dance to it . . .
Sometimes a longstanding summer sound disappears. The ice cream truck that cruised our suburban neighborhood in summers past must be plying other routes this year.
There are a lot of kids on our street—shrieks and whoops from the nightly game of tag or soccer carry through the back yards that adjoin ours—but the jangle of Pop Goes the Weasel is absent this year. Don’t get me wrong, I can live without the tinny tune distracting me from my work. But I do ponder the mystery of where the treat truck has gone.
Speaking of potential distractions, a baseball game (okay, a Red Sox game) is a constant background sound at our house on summer evenings. The announcers’ voices are a low drone until a big hit brings the Fenway crowd to its feet. Though the 37,000+/- roaring people are 100 miles from of my house, their voices sometimes waft up the stairs to my study. This happened often the night I wrote this post, when the Sox beat the Indians 12-10.
Bird music is an especially lovely summer sound.
The cottage we visit in Brooklin shares the cove with a flock of Greater Yellow Legs. They busybody along the water’s edge, chattering at each other as they go. Dew-dew-dew, they proclaim. Dew-dew-dew. We spend the sunset hour eavesdropping on their conversations.
A hermit thrush entertains us from a high branch in the woods behind the cottage while we do the supper dishes. There’s a broad window over the kitchen sink through which we bask in its ethereal, multiple-phrased song. Here it is for your listening pleasure, with credit and thanks to Garth McElroy:
The rumble of thunder and crackle of lightning are classic summer noises, taking me back to my parents’ screen porch, a favorite childhood perch during electrical storms. Almost as exciting as the storm itself was the anticipatory rush of wind through trees, mimicking the sound of rain.
Is there a sound that evokes the nascent swing toward fall more than crickets chirping their little hearts out?
I wasn’t ready to hear them yet—this summer has been such an on-and-off affair—but one night last week when I stepped onto the deck after dark there they were, madly rubbing their wings together, hoping to get lucky.
I always hope that for them, too.
Commenters: What are your favorite summer sounds? What noises could you do without? Is there a summertime tune that causes you to turn up your car radio?
Brenda Buchanan’s Joe Gale mysteries feature an old-school reporter with modern media savvy who covers the Maine crime beat. The first three Joe Gale books—Quick Pivot, Cover Story and Truth Beat—are available in digital format wherever ebooks are sold. Brenda can be found on the web at www.brendabuchananwrites.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrendaBuchananAuthor and on Twitter at @buchananbrenda