This post is contributed by Coastal Rivers Trustee Barnaby Porter. Read the previous post here.
Editor’s note: This piece is from Barnaby’s archive.
If there is anything that speaks to the soul of summer, it is the singing of crickets. All is right with the world, they sing, and their chorus scissors on.
And nowhere does the soul of summer cling faster than in this country place called Maine. The crickets pluck those sentimental strings with all their hearts. I hear them now. The gentle chorus of late summer whispers of sunflowers and asters, warm tomatoes and goldenrod and sea lavender waving in the breeze. And the singers sing of the things they love: harmony, peace and quietude.
There is an element that flavors their performance, though – one perhaps they don’t intend. It is a sadness, a subtle melancholy, one that is all-pervading. But it’s not meant to be. Their true mission is to serenade their fairer gender throughout the countryside and thereby multiply themselves – resulting in crickets being everywhere, and thus the “everywhereness” of crickets’ song.
For all of us who live summer for the nourishment of our beings, letting it flood us with its long, lingering days of easy living, there is a subliminal, ever-present singing. It is the thread that strings together the many quiet and pleasant moments that are summed in our pursuit of happiness. The crickets’ song IS summer.
As this kind season pulls gently away, we begin to cling. Events and signs that hint at the coming change cause us to pause more often, to notice, to savor what we will most miss. “Shush,” my wife says to me in the early-evening garden. “Listen… It’s wonderful.” And I do, and it is, of course, and we cease our conversation and simply listen to the weepingly beautiful, living “silence.”
For us who are privileged to stay, the sadness is less melancholy than it is sweet; it is more the song of the season. But for those who must close up their summer houses and haul their boats by Labor Day, the crickets’ song sounds a parting: So Long, farewell, goodbye… We’ll keep the place till next time… and the porch swing too… So long, farewell, goodbye.
The effect is to slow their pace the last few days as they plod around the place, packing up… inhaling deeply and wishing they’d paid more attention to certain things while there was still time. Wistfulness is what it is. It takes time to enjoy this life, to embrace it as it deserves. Some will never learn though, will never know the poetry in the crickets’ song, sad as that seems.
It’s so simple: This is life, this is happiness, let it never change… Ask no more, seek no further, never leave this place… All is right with the world, they sing, and their chorus scissors on.
Artist and author Barnaby Porter has had a varied career in marine research, aquaculture, and woodworking, among others. Most recently he partnered with his wife Susan as co-owners of the Maine Coast Book Shop & Cafe in downtown Damariscotta. Barnaby currently serves on Coastal Rivers’ Board of Trustees. For more about Barnaby, click here.