Tonight is the night.
I step outside, barefoot on a lawn soft as grave dirt, to inhale the faintly piquant lemon of magnolias and hear the frog song. A thousand chirring, peeping, cheering voices that hold me enthrall, errands forgotten, while all the summers of my life shuttle past, swift and rolling as the downhill rush of a spring-fed creek.
“They’re here,” my mother, daughter, grandmother would say – day gentling into evening, a sky the color of tea roses and violets, and through it all, the song. “Summer’s coming.”
Oh, summer. The languid air in the valley has a presence that is very nearly tangible, and is at least half made-up of memory. My mother played in this yard as a little girl in the years just following the Great Depression. Hair in a smooth Scout Finch bob, neat patches on her cotton dress, fingers blackberry-stained. The frog song brings the little girl back, and I can see her almost as plainly as I see my own children –
Here in the same yard, beneath the magnolia, and trailing up the hill after lightning bugs, their shouts jubilant enough to puncture the soul, to suck the heart out.
I think that the happiest moments in our lives are overlaid with the deepest sorrow, as though we need to experience the depth of one in order to feel the other. Time wounds us, always, simply by its forward motion.
Who on earth first applied the word “croak” to that sound? And could it be further from the truth?
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