I went for a walk tonight, chased to the dying moments of sunlight by the day's unyielding heat. As I strolled through the residential streets surrounding my apartment complex, I heard the song of the cicadas.
As a child, I always associated that sound with the arrival of August - which, with school days just around the corner, meant the departure of summer.
Oh, not the summer's heat, but the 'freedom' of the season. Summer meant no classes, no long bus rides, no homework or interminable list of math equations to tackle.
Not that we ever had the freedom to while away those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer that I heard about in song, and from the stories of those who grew up in the city. On the farm there were always chores to do, and the older we got the more work there was to be done.
But summer still meant the lunch break could be two hours if the heat was especially intense, and if we needed 10 minutes to get a drink of water and catch our breath, we could do that.
Summer also meant you would likely be out in the field or the barn or the yard in a place where you could watch the traffic flash by on the state highway or the horses frolic in the pasture or birds flittering about in the trees - all sights denied you when you were locked away in a classroom somewhere.
I guess that's why the sound of cicadas always filled me with a sense of sadness as a youth, coming as they typically did so late in a child's summer. And that old melancholy flashed tonight when I heard them again - even though we haven't even reached the midpoint of July yet.
So sing a song of summer, cicadas. You don't have to mean "farewell."