Crickets

My daughter’s friend spends the afternoon on our back porch. When I come home from work, the girls are still chatting and doing crafts. The sunlight dapples through the box elders. Around us, tomatoes ripen.

We are ensconced in porch life, our half-covered deck redolent with drying garlic, the nasturtiums dangling their delicate, impossibly beautiful blossoms from hanging baskets. In the mornings, we read Henry IV, Part One aloud with my parents in Santa Fe, my sister and nephews in Virginia, circling back to Falstaff’s words — “A plague of sighing and grief! It blows a man up like a bladder.” Beside me, my 15-year-old rubs a finger over the scraps on her knees from blackberry brambles.

August is the sunshine month in Vermont, the season of wild berries, of warm lakes, of flowers in excess, of lying on the grass as the stars come out, of a great long pause before autumn sets in and winter grinds her teeth.

Our deck, our house, and garden might as well be the whole world, with the turkey vultures silently circling overhead, the wood thrush singing sweetly in the ravine. Before dinner, I toss a withering bouquet of giant zinnias in the compost and cut a fresh handful for our dinner table. August is our rainbow month. I know my daughter’s desire for school, for soccer, for this future none of us seem able to imagine — but long may August last, please.

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change.

— E.B. White

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