Like many people of my age I grew up without air conditioning. I did not think it a burden, no one I knew had air conditioning either. My bedroom was on the northeast corner of the house. While I had two windows, a large one on the north side and a smaller on the east, the chances of a cooling cross breeze coming in through the screens on a sultry summer night was usually less than zero.
There is something about a summer night. The cicadas strum and the crickets fiddle in their endless cacophonous symphony to the moon and stars. I would lie in bed listening to the night sounds and the regular passing of trains a few blocks north. They would sound their big air horns as they approached the Maish Road crossing, picking up speed as they headed east out of town. I can still hear in my mind the screech of steel on steel as the brakes slowed the inbound trains, the bang of cars taking up slack, the steady rhythmic click and clack as the cars passed over the rail connections.
I don't know what evoked the ancient memory of night sounds; of the low rumble of trains, of the chirp of insects, of the whisper of an owls wings in flight, the occasional scream of a bat in the summer air. I am not sure of why I think of sweat, tossing and turning in the night, of lonely musings and pre-dawns spent with Louis L'Amour or the latest book I filched from my mother after she went to bed.
I don't know what stirred those memories this morning. Perhaps it is because I stayed up late reading last night. Maybe it is just old memories leaking through to flood today's reality away. I should have stored this post away until summer's heat invited the insects to replicate their intricate music into the night sky. But the regular rhythm of the steel wheels of late night trains clicking over the rails will have to be provided from my imagination and memory. The tracks a few blocks north of this house are moribund and dead. They will soon be transmuted into a public greenway, a walking and biking path for suburbanites to exercise in a straight line from point A to point B and back. Besides, the night sounds will be muted by the closed windows of the air conditioned house.
If a cicada cries it lonely paen of sex into the empty night and no one hears it, does it exist?