Friday, May 15, 2009

When Crickets Chirp

The baby got a new toy tonight, a Little People Camping set that is really adorable. It came with two little girls, chairs and sleeping bags for each, a fire, and a tent trailer that has realistic camping sounds like a fire crackling and owls hooting. While I was helping him set it up and learn to use it (heaven knows you have to play with it the right way!), it played crickets chirping.

Just hearing that sound made me so happy! It reminded me of staying at my Grandma’s house during the summer. The windows were open because there was no air conditioning in the house, and you could hear the cricket’s song rising up from the flower beds. Nearby railway lines provided an occasional horn and the clickety clack that reverberated off of the heated pavement and down the sleepy streets. Passing cars glided by in hushed whispers, unlike the busy street that bustled throughout the day.

I would lie in my bed and listen to the melody of the night, kicking off my covers against the heat. So unlike my own bed at home, where it was never warm enough to open the windows, and certainly too cold to sleep under a simple sheet like we did at Grandma’s.

I could feel the permanence of the mountains around me, knowing that in a few short hours, the sun would rise above them in a majestic show of color that amazed and then blinded as it cleared the jagged peaks of the Wasatch Mountains. Even in the dark, I could feel the protection of the stone sentinels that surrounded the valley.

From other rooms in the house, I would hear the sounds of my family sleeping; coughs, murmurs, sometimes a snore. These were people that I saw only during the summer when we would visit, known only through letters and phone calls in the off seasons. Yet, their importance in my life was larger than the day to day role that they filled, and I cherished these days spent in the cradle of my kin.

Memories of the day would race through my thoughts, aunts and uncles talking loudly over one another, the laughter of family stories told for the thousandth time. Cousins, squealing down the halls in a thunderous procession, or sliding stealthily in the shadows on some secret mission. The family gatherings, where every room was filled with those that I loved, until the house seemed ready to burst at the seams. Knowing that no matter where you were, you were not alone.

A quiet, peaceful serenity accompanied those nights, as I listened to the world that was mine so very briefly…savoring the feeling of being at home, even if this was not where I lived.

Funny how a simple sound can bring back all of this, and without even bringing the memories into focus, floods me with happiness that is hard to pinpoint at first. Until my conscious is able to identify the snapshots of recollection that dart across my memory…and place the sound with the feeling that both warms and delights me.

I think that I’m going to enjoy this toy being around.

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