Summertime has always been my bliss. As a kid, I counted down the days until I could go barefoot in June. I loved (and still love) when the local ice cream shop opens for the warm months. I love the sounds of crickets and peepers and birds. There’s nothing more magical to me than the point in the evening when stars and fireflies converge so that the horizon no longer exists, and everything is made of stars and possibility.
Two winters ago, I realized what my favorite sound in the world is. I was standing in my yard in the bitter cold, trying to get my dogs to do their business. Not a car was on the road. Not an animal was in the yard, save two miserable dogs who wished they were curled up inside. It was then that I heard it. No plane, no car, no person, no animal. Even the wind had died. For a moment, I checked my phone, wondering if perhaps the apocalypse had slipped in and silently wiped out everyone but me. It was complete silence, and it was dreadful.
I stood and listened to the silence, and the goosebumps on my arm did not come from the cold. There was something disconcerting about that silence. It was the complete absence of life. I realized then, in that unsettling moment, what it is I missed most in the winter.
It’s the sound of wind swooshing through leafy trees. When the winds passes through the lush green leaves of summer, it’s a much different sound than the colored and drying leaves of fall or the crackling branches of winter. The sound is soft and comforting. It’s the sound of life. The sound of possibility. Thinking about how much I missed that sound, there in the bitter stillness of winter-death, I almost cried.
As a kid, I marked the start of summer by waiting for the day when I could go barefoot. Now, each year, I look forward to the day when I recognize the sound of wind passing through mature green leaves. As an added bonus, I love the way the sunlight filters through the leaves, creating dancing patterns on the ground. There are some summer mornings when it’s not too humid yet and not too chilly, mornings when a shorts and tee shirt feel perfect. I captured this picture on just such a morning. A morning when the sunlight was just the right angle, the humidity was perfect to give the dew an almost magical quality. A morning when the sun became a spotlight for one of nature’s masterpieces. It’s moments like that which remind me how great it is—following the observation of Ray Bradbury—to realize you’re alive!
My publisher, Barking Rain Press, is running a summer reading special. Now through July 10, you can buy any book for just $1.99, including my young adult novel The Scarred Letter, a reboot of Hawthorne’s original, examining bullying, individuality, and truth in a modern setting. You can find it for Kindle or any other ebook format at the publisher (use code SUMMERDZ)