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Hearing the Sounds of Late Summer

It was a hot August morning and I was getting dressed for summer camp. My bedroom window was wide opened; my family did not have air conditioning and the large attic fan would circulate air throughout the house best if all the windows were open. As I would get dressed, I would listen to the “songs” outside. There was a rhythm. It would start soft, then get louder and louder before it dropped off again. Then it would go through the same process all over again, very cyclically. In a way, it sounded like a choir, chanting the songs of the morning. Nature’s songs. I remember when I first asked my mother what those sounds were.

“Cicadas,” she told me. “The sounds of August.”

Turns out – they come out in August every year. The males communicate in these songs (or chants) in an attempt to court a female cicada. They mate and procreate before the male and female cicada start to die off towards the end of the month, leaving us with their remnants and memories of their songs…just as the summer ends and the first signs of Fall begin. An acoustic reminder of the continuing cycle of life.

The sounds of the cicadas have become immersed in my memory with these moments of my past and a significant and meaningful awareness of the present: the ending of the season and the moving onto the last leg of the year. Time is passing…and the sensation of all the hopes, dreams and goals that remain on the horizon become more present.

On a hot summer morning I followed the sounds of the cicadas to pursue the sensation that these late summer sounds offered. I followed the sounds deep into the park. The sky was an extraordinary blue and each cloud was a puff of white. The trees were different shades of bright green and the lake glistened in the sun, offering a palate of warm summer colors.

Funny enough, though, it often is not what one sees that brings them back to their memories, to their emotion and sense of meaning. Rather, the sounds that surround tend to bring that result.

On this warm summer morning, deep in the park, I was surrounded by sounds of the late summer. Walking through, I could hear the clip clap of my own steps – reminding me that I am moving forward to an unknown.

Far in the distance is the soft rumble of traffic – each person or family moving towards their planned day’s events. Moving. Progressing.

Suddenly, a generator turned on, breaking up the sounds. Offering power, nourishment, and a means for some entity to survive.

The hum of bicycle wheels – a family was riding by:
“Let’s go this way,” the young boy said to his parents, choosing a path. Choosing the path they would travel on their excursion. The sounds leading up to that choice.

“GOAL!” Happy screams. Two teams of teenage children playing a friendly game of soccer, their parents watching and cheering on. Team work, playful competition. All the sounds of what it takes to score, to move ahead, to win, to have fun while doing so.

The zoom of a motor bike, so far away. The zoom gets louder and louder – then quite loud – before the sound starts to disappear. Someone riding that motorbike on this warm, sunny day – taking in the nuances of the environment and creating some of his own. Creating. The motorbike creating and adding to the sounds of summer.

I wonder if the rider is wearing hearing protection…

Interrupting my thoughts are the sounds of a panting dog, the crunch of his owner’s steps not far behind.

Church bells ring in the distance – it’s noon. Many churchgoers are leaving now after having spent their morning in prayer, devotion and spirituality. The sounds that adds to their lives, makes their lives more full, whole and meaningful.
The slow crunch of a car’s tires as it drives through the park. Moving from one end to the other, a sensation of desire rather than urgency.

The crackle of a nearby bar-be-que fire. A group of men, out for the afternoon, start to take out hot dogs and hamburgers for cooking. The crackle sound is their moment with their friends: bonding, remembering, sharing.

An airplane flies overhead. Passengers inside eagerly await reaching their destination. Going on vacation? Heading home? Their next stop awaits them with open arms and hope.

Soft laughter and conversation of a nearby family sitting at a picnic bench, spending time together. Family time. Moments they will cherish always. Memories they are making now.

Birds chirping overhead. Two higher pitched, one lower pitched. The lower pitched bird chirp sounded authoritative, like a father. A dad and his two baby birds. Birds are having a family day, too!

The gallop of two large golden retrievers following behind the rhythmic footsteps of their master. Galloping dogs..gallop, gallop. The gallops getting louder…louder…louder…

SLURP! One runs over to me, licking my legs.
The sound of laughter – my own.
The sound of love offering to a stranger!

But the loudest sounds are the Cicadas…a sound of hope, faith and a sense of urgency to reach those goals and dreams before year’s end. The cicadas.

I wouldn’t want to miss any of the sounds of the late summer. Can you hear them?
If you are missing any of these sounds, have your hearing checked. The sounds of late summer – the sounds of life. You don’t want to miss them!

Written by New York Speech and Hearing

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