August 18th, 2004



When the moon is absent, Venus is very bright. I watched it rise above the tree line this morning. The scene was peaceful for a while, but this being a weekday, the quiet was soon broken by the sound of early commuters. There are more of them every year, filling the early hours with their racket. But worse, there will soon be an older noise, lasting through the warm nights- the katydids are arriving. I heard the first one last evening, making its shrill call. Even when there is only one of them, it is difficult to track its location, as the sound reverberates from every surface, so that it seems to emanate from every direction. Once many of them have gathered, the nights are an endless, penetrating cacophony from which there is no escape. It even drowns out the gentle chirping of the crickets. It is the exhausting and hypnotic sound of August, and I wonder that it doesn't drive us all to madness.

Darkness now lingers well past five o'clock, a deep blue gradually softening the sky, but no other color reveals itself for a long time. I wait to see if any clouds will emerge in the growing eastern light. Thus far, there are none. The morning coolness is refreshing, but the heat has been building again, and a sultry day lies ahead. The year I came to this place, a hot August gave way to a September of mild rains which alternated with balmy days filled with the buzzing of bees. There has not been such a September since. I think we're owed one.

One Day Much Like Another

The katydids began their chirring at dusk. I remember an old vacuum tube radio we had which, when it heated up, would emit a high pitched buzzing noise that was almost as annoying as the sound of the katydids. The radio could be turned off, though. A katydid will briefly fall silent if they sense human footsteps, but they never stay silent for long. I wish I had an animal that would eat them.

There was another nice sunset, painted by the cirrus clouds which hung around all afternoon. At times, they were so dense that they almost seemed to be promising rain, and the whole forest was dim and sultry and expectant. Now they have thinned once more, and the day's heat is slowly leaving us- too slowly for my taste, but I don't get to decide. I patiently wait, remembering the encouraging sight of more fallen mulberry leaves decorating the lawn today. Almost two thirds of this summer have passed, though it seems like more, due to the uncommonly warm spring which preceded it. Oak leaves are beginning to fall as well, bringing another indication of our impending salvation from the overbearing sun. I'm pleased.