I’m always happy when the calendar turns over to August. Some of my favourite sounds invoke comforting memories of childhood summers on my grandparents’ farm. To this day, I love these sounds.
Mornings brought the songs of birds sheltered and nesting high up in the stately old elm trees that shaded our very old, but well-kept farmhouse. The chittering and chattering, the dee-dee-dee’s, the tweeting, twittering, and trilling of their voices resonated through the air. All was well.
On Monday mornings, my grandmother ran the old wringer washer with its slow agitator swishing and swashing back and forth in the washer drum. The hum and rumble of the wringers told me that she was squeezing the wet sheets through the rollers squishing the water out of them. They plopped and splashed as they landed in the rinse tub. The groaning protest of the roller ringers told me she was wringing out the sheets again. We went out into the hot summer morning and I handed her the pins as she hung the sheets neatly on the clothesline.
The whispering breezes wafted through the snow-white sheets. This sound told me it was a good drying day. If the wind came up, the sheets complained with loud flapping snaps. I only needed to listen to know.
The heat of the August day brought forth the zinging, high-pitched whining sounds of the cicadas. They told of the rising heat of the day.
The droning of sleepy, fat flies buzzed lazily in the hot air as I played on the green summer lawn.
Crows called back and forth from the fields to the trees with their croaky, coarse voices. This told me that all was well in the sky.
In the pasture, the cows languidly swished their tails at insects as they mooed gently at their young calves.
Hot breezes hushed a meadow of golden grasses as they whispered, “shhhhhhhhhhh” over the nodding heads of the wild daisies.
Grasshoppers made flicking and clicking noises as they jumped about in the tall grasses in the field. The rubbing together of their legs and wings caused a cacophony of dry, rasping vibrations as multitudes of them called back and forth.
Late afternoon skies filled with plump cumulous clouds. The air became still as thunder rumbled and grumbled in the distance. All became silent in the stifling heat. I heard the quiet before the storm.
My grandfather hurried to the farmhouse, keeping a wary eye on the black horizon. My grandmother rushed to bring the dried sheets in off the line. As the wind whipped up, we snatched up my toys just before the first large, drops of rain arrived ahead of the imminent storm.
Safe in the farm kitchen, I listened as the rain lashed at the windows, listened as the lightning sizzled and clicked as it flashed, listened to the howling wind, and listened to the claps and booms of the thunder. The tempest hovered over our small farm.
The storm rumbled past. The sun emerged as the angry clouds rolled away. The plip-plop of water dripped off the buildings. As it dribbled and dropped from the greenery, water soaked into the thirsty ground. All was fresh and clean.
The sounds of nature resumed, and added to those were the peaceful evening chirps of the crickets singing their calls.
As my grandmother tucked me into my bed, I snuggled under the rustling fresh sheets that had come in off the line just hours before. I slept.