The song of the cicada, the midsummer marker, is loud and clear though it started up a day or two late this year. I have always noticed it on exactly July 15th and while I listened for it, did not notice it before the 16th or 17th this year and attributed it to the milder temperatures. With the middle of July came more heat and lawns browning and leaves drying up and falling earlier than they should. Days seem to be tumbling off the calendar with alarming rapidity though the air is hot and inspires laziness. Summer fruit has been luscious, melons and nectarines and even grapes seem sweeter than usual.
My next door neighbor is sprucing up her house, painting, repairing and putting trash out to the curb and when her son greeted me as I was about to roll the trash tub back up my driveway he asked me if I knew he was to be getting married as soon as his fiancée arrives from Lebanon sometime in September. Her parents will stay in his mother’s home for about a month and the younger couple will move into a different house after the marriage.
While I was preparing my morning coffee I heard a large truck out in the street and when I looked I saw an ambulance and an EMS worker walk up the driveway across the street. Mary had told me the last time we talked that her husband was not doing well. There has been a little gnawing inside of me about people from my past whom I have not been able to rouse for some time and it is worrisome that I might lose them without knowing they have gone.
During the night my room felt stuffy, so I opened the window. I could see the street was wet, though I had not heard the rain nor any of the predicted storm sounds. Wind was blowing through the trees across the street, the air was a little cooler and I was lulled by the comforting music of night.
In June I went a pilgrimage to see the Shroud of Turin, which I signed up for because they embarked on the anniversary of my late mother’s birthday. The excursion was twelve days long with bus rides to Turin and then to Venice followed by a cruise of the Greek Isles.
Once home from the pilgrimage, I did laundry, dishes, re-packed a smaller bag and flew to Iowa for the classes I signed up to take in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Stimulated by the academic environment, I did my best to participate in all of the events and to absorb all that I could from the teachers and classmates I met.
The day after I returned from Iowa City, my cousin in Michigan called asking if I could come up to go to the great Ann Arbor Art Festival. After giving it some thought, I called her back and said I could drive up on Friday, we could go to the festival Saturday and I could drive home Sunday.
Returning from Michigan I was certainly glad to get back to my own bed and let all of the impressions from the travels take their time re-winding and surfacing as they might. From my quiet existence I felt like a cannon ball shot from one reality to another and it is with gratitude I slipped back into my normal routine, where most people, so busy with their own lives either didn’t realize I had been away, or asked for a brief response to How was your trip?
The lush green countrysides flanked by wild red poppies and pink roses as the tour bus rolled along the highways in Italy and the charm of the people, the music of their language, pepper my daydreams.
The amazing talent of my classmates, teachers, the academic stimulus, the tranquility of Iowa City, the beauty of the Iowa River, the energy of the young people have won my heart for a second summer.
The sheer volume of art in the Ann Arbor festival, the photographs that looked like fine water colors, the sculptures, the array of jewelry, and hand painted clothing were stunning as was the image of my cousin chopping cabbage to a fine consistency for cole slaw and with the same level of intensity, chatting away. Slowly I am unpacking all the memories.