I was awakened by a familiar song, the same one I’ve heard coming from the mountain on mornings like this one, always this time of year, when summer is sleepy and old. The singing didn’t cease, even after I forced my bones out of the bed. I heard them all humming in unison, their small voices never lilting above the constant murmur of the only song they know. I was unable to discern any lyrics, so I listened more closely.
We will be gone away soon, they chanted. We will be gone away soon, and so will you.
But it’s just the way things have always been, and you know this, too. This is the last song of summer. We need no stirring dirge to remind us, but the legion of crickets keep singing. They never get tired. And they never forget the words. They will serenade us with that same sad song until they disappear into a silent November.
I think about this place, this home that I love despite that cricket song that always becomes the anthem of summer’s demise. People live fast here. Hard and fast, like summertime itself. It is us those crickets sing about. I don’t have to know the words to understand, for I am one of those summer people, too.
But even if that song sounds melancholy, a rush of butterflies fills my insides, and I recollect that the soundtrack of my life was recorded during these Indian summer days. We spent the awakenings of our young spirits beneath harvest moons and in the rows of wasted cornfields at dusk and in gymnasiums at high school dances after football games on Friday nights, back when we were oblivious to our mortality and the coming winter.
And oh, those old winters, in the days before the new year when it took forever and a day for Christmas to finally come, when nobody would have desecrated their living room with the sacrilege of a plastic tree, and we got oranges in our stockings because that’s what Mama and Daddy used to get in theirs. But those winters lasted an eternity after it was all over, and we would long again for our bright and elusive summertime that always took her sweet time a’ coming home to the mountain.
And the crickets must know that, too. That’s why they sing that sad song all day long and into the evening, even as the sun drops behind the ridge earlier than it did yesterday. They will sing the anthem of summer’s demise and remind us of those old Indian summer days when we were oblivious to what was coming.
The mountain remains a lush green for now, but soon enough the Fall will bring out its palette of burnt gold and scarlet and firelit copper and dress the tired leaves in their funeral attire, and they will be more beautiful than they’ve ever been…or ever will be again.
Yes, this is our song, all lovely and sad and too soon, the way things have always been.
And soon enough the crickets will indeed be gone and winter will come home again for too long a stay. But again tomorrow they will sing again, for you and me and these last few balmy days, and those who lived hard and fast, like summertime.