When I was growing up, we lived in a little subdivision a few miles outside of town. Our house was on a dirt road that was about a quarter of a mile from a paved road that ran parallel to it. The paved road was maintained by the county and had some county road number assigned to it, which I never learned. As kids we always referred to that paved road as “The County”, as in: “Hey Mom, Steve and I are going to ride our bikes down to the end of The County and back.”
Night was always a lot different living out away from town, especially in the summer. In those days, we didn’t have refrigerated air and where we lived, on what they call the high plains, the air was dry and the temperature would drop sometimes thirty degrees or more from the high during the day. So, there were lots of nights when it was more comfortable to sleep with the window open to take advantage of the cool night air.
Sleeping with the window open brought a whole different world into your room at night. I would wait until my eyes adjusted to the darkness after turning off the light and then go to the window and look at the stars, clouds, moon and whatever else was waiting there to be looked at. Then, lying in bed and drifting off to sleep I would listen to the sounds of the night: crickets and cicadas, dogs barking in the distance, cars being hot-rodded up and down The County, the bleating mufflers of diesel trucks using their “jake brake” to slow to make the turn from The County onto the highway a half a mile away. And then, during quieter hours, the sound of an irrigation motor on a nearby farm might echo across miles of open land if the breeze was just right.
I think those years of sleeping with the window open are what trained my brain to embrace droning, seemingly monotonous tones. I say “seemingly” because I learned that what sounded monotonous was actually always changing, an ever-shifting blend of the low hum of distant traffic and the high droning sounds of insects, punctuated by a repetitive chorus of dog barks or passing vehicles. Even now, decades after those long, sound-enriched summer nights, I still love to step outside at night, when it seems like all is quiet, and let the sound waves of the evening wash over me.
released 22 June 2013
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