The last and most enduring of crickets is filling the cool evening air with vigorous chirps, as though it were still May. The bug has outlived even most of the summer locusts, a few of whom I can hear buzzing faintly, way past the orchard, probably in the shallow, grassy vale where the stream flows. From this distance, the locusts sound a bit like that high-pitched whine sometimes emitted by a faucet that hasn't been entirely turned off. The cricket sounds only like a cricket. I've shut down the CD player so I can listen to the night. The only other sounds are the whir of the computer and the click of my keyboard, and the occasional passing car. This distant from the town's urban attractions (Taco Bell, the bowling alley, the 7 screen cineplex), Saturday evenings are quiet. Everyone not inside watching television is off somewhere, most of them probably in Chico. I sit here with my sleeping cat, making ephemeral words appear on a screen. How the hell did this happen?
This afternoon, something ran across my roof. It might have been an overweight squirrel. I didn't get outside quickly enough to see. I know it wasn't likely to have been a giant tarantula, as the tarantulas don't come this far north, though this is the season for them. The males go out looking for females early in the autumn. It's odd that, though I've lived in California all my life, I've never seen a tarantula in person. My neighborhoods were all too developed, I suppose, but I never even saw one when I was visiting out in the sticks (which happened frequently when I was a kid.) I've heard tales from people who have seen hundreds of them crawling about the vineyards of the Napa Valley and the orchards of the San Joaquin, but I've never seen one. Thus, I'm able to imagine them being much larger than they probably are in reality. I can imagine them making great, rapid thumps as they run across my rooftop. No, it must have been a squirrel.
Lately, my musical obsession has been a CD of piano rolls played mostly by Eubie Blake. I program the CD player to play the album's middle nine tracks, and put it on repeat. One particular song, called "Don't Tell Your Monkey Man," tends to become a very complex earworm. I keep hearing snatches of it in my head all the time now. A lot of the old piano rolls featured an early form of overdubbing, in which the pianist would fill in the original recording with slightly off-beat flourishes and such. A neighbor in my old neighborhood had a player piano when I was a kid, and I remember watching the masses of keys pumping up and down, up to twenty at a time, when they played one of those overdubbed rolls. It was fascinating. Even then, the sound of ragged piano conjured images of high-ceilinged barrooms and long, black Packards passing by on the street outside-- scenes I must have picked up from seeing old movies. I still get those images from listening to this CD. If I remembered my dreams, I suspect that these days many of them might be taking place in 1925. Maybe that's why I've become obsessed with the album. The present-day world isn't particularly appealing to me at the moment.
Nine O'Clock. Have to go make soup.