As the sun begins to slip below the western horizon, the cicadas, which have been shrilling during the heat of the day, gradually slow down. A discordant clanking arises for a moment as the Green Tree Frogs (Hyla cinerea), impatient for the night, start up and then dies down. The high pitched trilling of the Narrow Mouth Toads (Gastrophyrne olivacea) began earlier in the afternoon. They don’t seem to mind calling during the heat of the afternoon and can be heard not only from the aquatic plants floating at the lake’s margin but also in the shallow pools of water left in the woods by the rains.
As the sun sinks lower, the cicadas begin to stop one by one until just one lone individual is left and then gradually it too stops. There is a short moment of silence, then almost as at a signal, the tree frogs start up their clanking again, joined by the clicking of the Cricket Frogs (Acris crepitans) who have sang half-heartedly during the day, but now swell in full chorus. The sun sinks below the horizon but the pink of the clouds are reflected in the water of the lake.
I sit on the dock watching the changing light and listening. Tree crickets soon begin calling and after a while the katydids begin their loud, almost deafening, calls from the trees. I sit patiently listening to the cacophony around me watching the darkening sky. It isn’t too long before I see a black flickering shadow overhead, wheeling and darting, a piece of night torn from a darker cloth. It is soon joined by others and soon the pink reflection of the clouds on the water is shattered and broken by the drinking bats. Off in the woods a Barred Owl begins calling before it begins its night of hunting and is soon answered by another in the trees across the slough.
Finally the mosquitoes become too much, and I make my way across the wooden bridge that my father built, weathered grey by the years. A Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) decides to join in with its deep call, and the sounds of the creatures continue to grow to almost a frenzy as the darkness becomes complete, and I reach the screen door to my father’s house outlined by the golden light from within.
So passes another wonderful contemplative day at my father’s lake house. I flew down last Sunday, welcomed by my sister and father who picked me up at the airport and who took me back to my sister’s house where I spent the night, glad to see my sister’s husband and beautiful children. The next morning my father and I visited my precious mother and spent some time with her before driving out towards the lake, visiting my brother and his wife and daughter and their lovely granddaughter on the way.
My brother and his wife took me and our father to a really nice Mexican Restaurant in Lakewood near the intersection of Abrams and Gaston. My sister-in-law wanted us to try the delicious chicken friend steak there which they knew was my favorite dish. It truly lived up to her praises, requiring no knife to cut, and we ate slowly there just before a huge wall mural which depicted many
That was Monday and in the past three days, I have gradually cleaned up the mess in my house left by the latest burglary. At first I was greatly upset because I thought that these old family photos in antique frames which had been in our family over a hundred years had been stolen, but I found them where I had put them the last time that I had painted the room. The only thing that I know was stolen was a nice microscope that I had acquired in 1974…oh and the wall air conditioner which my family bought back in 1956 and which had served faithfully all these fifty years.
Today I put up a ceiling fan with lights which we got at Lowe’s yesterday to replace the malfunctioning fluorescent light fixture which had hung there in the living room since 1971 when my grandfather and his identical twin brother had built the house. As always in any project that I start, the holdup is usually in the simplest things. In this instance I found it extraordinarily difficult to attach the ceiling bracket to the large beam that runs the length of the cathedral ceiling in the living room. I had to climb a tall ladder and getting the screws correctly aligned with the bracket, and then screwing them in proved to be the most time consuming part of the entire process. After that the electrical connections and the actually hanging and securing the fan with its lights was relatively simple. I also attached a remote control device to the fan which is handy since the fan is so high up. It works perfectly and also provides lots of light.
Later I rested my aching shoulders by finishing Ernest Hemingway’s A Movable Feast, reading the same book that I had bought and read back in 1967. I have an entire library of books at my lake house, and I always take great delight in taking down these old friends and rereading them. For some reason I had always had the impression that Hemingway always pared his writing down to the bone, but today I was struck by some of his long descriptive sentences. Some of his sentences were over half a page long! He kept referring to his elimination of adjectives, but his writing belied these claims.
Tomorrow my father and I are going back to town to visit my beloved mother, before setting out for the panhandle of