Saturday, May 27, 2006

Night noises

Round ten o'clock last night I grab a book and head outside to sit on the front porch to read. Our block's quiet and empty but the neighborhood and the town beyond are alive with noise.

Noises of treefrogs and spring peepers. Noises of teenage girls shrieking happily as they walk towards town where there is nothing open now except for a couple of gas stations and a bar they sound too young to even fake their way into. Noises of children up late running around their backyard, and through the treetops across the way I pick out the upstairs light in the house I'm guessing is their house, possibly it's their bedroom light and someone's upstairs waiting for them to come to bed.

Noises of firecrackers, M-80s, thumping, farther off.

Noises of cars on the main street still damp from rain earlier in the evening, incessant, Friday night and we're on the way between everywhere you'd want to be on a Friday night. Noises of adults laughing on their front porch and hearty good nights and car doors slamming. Noises of birds startled from their roosts. Noises of geese carrying a mile up from the river.

A night when sounds travel. Low clouds, air damp. Fire horn sounds and it's not the one from our firehouse. The next town over's three miles away but that's to the south and this seems to be coming from the east which would put it six miles down the road. The horn hoots for several minutes, calling the volunteers. No sirens follow it.

Dog noises do. Every dog has to answer the first dog that barked in surprise at the fire horn.

The fire horn stops. The dogs discuss it for a bit and then settle down. Traffic dies. Nothing now but the peepers, clucking high, then low. cheep cheep cheep CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP cheep cheep cheep CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP.

Another teenage girl cries out. This one is angry. Can't hear what she says. I know her tone. Her parents have offended her. She lets them and the neighbors know it.

Quiet again, except for the peepers, and then some noises in the house behind me. My house. I go in to investigate. The noises turn out to be a wife calling a cheerful goodnight and a 12 year old boy raiding the refrigerator for a glass of lemonade to take upstairs with him to bed and a 10 year old boy, long thought asleep, stumbling downstairs to use the bathroom and then making it no farther back towards his room than the couch in the living room, where he collapses, asleep again immediately.

Then there's the sound of a father shaking out a blanket to spread over the boy and then the noises of a computer ordered to boot itself to the ready and now just the sound of typing.

And the peepers and treefrogs outside the open windows, and a breeze.


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