The Blue Raccoon

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer's Here: The Cicadas Are Whirring

Thid image has nothing to do with the post. But, it was these three guitar maidens, or a far less
charming cicada. This came from smashintransistors, and shows a
"girl group power pop band" called the Baby Shakes. Pictured, in what order is not known, Mary, Judy, Claudia, and not pictured, their detached male member, Dave
Rahm Murat.

There's a couple of sounds indicative of the South and a place and time. First, is the zipping exhalation of a screen door's spring, and the subsequent percussive slap when the door shuts. One of the great opening lines of any popular song enshrines the nature of that sound of summer--and by a composer with a song that cannot be confused with anything Southern, Bruce Springsteen's Thunder Road. He certainly must have known about screen doors slamming and porches, because a welter of memories and associations are packed into these few lines:

The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely"

The other aural season indicator that is more prevalent these days than screen doors slamming is the whirr of cicadas. They are returned to Colonial Avenue, these chanting monks of summer, seeking not enlightenment but the propagation of their species. Their biological imperative commands them and their music is far more lulling than the hoots and rap music of sideways-baseball cap frat boy chippy chasers.

The buzzing in the trees is commensurate with people out and on their front porches, crowding balconies, parties that spill into the sidewalk; or in the early evenings, a glasses of chilled wine, or strumming the guitar, or just sitting and reading. O
n my way home from work I pass by a couple w ho brings dinner out onto their small front porch. They have a bottle of wine and little candles. Or they are playing cards and I hear their triumphant slap on my way by; the couple recognize me and wave.

These are summer sounds in this part of Richmond. I welcome them--but not the heat-- and an occasional brief thundershower to cut the humidity.

I suspect, perhaps hope, that one of the collateral social tremors that may occur as electric bills rise and people seek relief from the closeness of their living rooms, that they may be using their porches more. If they have them. I'm quite thankful the neighborhoods near mine are of the vintage when porches were regarded not as an affectation, but a real part of enduring the warmer seasons and community connection.

I've hear porches described as "the missing room." They are the nerve centers of a community, or should be, if it's any kind of community. Here's a memoriam for the porch.

We even had sleeping porches on the second floor where, before they got turned into media dens by later inhabitants, were where a family retreated at night. All the windows were opened and whatever meager breeze could be felt was helped along by a ceiling fan. And, while we're at it, let us pause to praise ceiling fans.

Air conditioners have made the South livable for those who can't take the heat. Hell, even I have difficulty with blast furnace weather. But we practice restraint here on Colonial Avenue in regards to artificial cooling; cost is one factor, drying out the air is another, and a wafting breeze is just so much more relieving (provided the air isn't clammy) than a constant blowing of cold air.

Where I work I'm right under a vent. This is an older retrofitted brick structure, which I love and am able to get to by walking, but: the cooling system is difficult to adjust -- one side of the office freezes, the other side bakes. Frankly, if we practiced what used to be the case in Spain and other countries, during the heat of the day, you go home. Get a long lunch, have some afternoon delight, whatever . So much more civilized and less stressful, you ask me.

Greta Got Nuptialized

Speaking of heat, members of the billion-eyed audience are aware of my unabashed admiration of Greta Wodele who hosts the morning Washington Journal on C-SPAN. I know I'm not the lone wonkish nerd guy out there who holds this view, judging from my Sitemeter, of people who've come to this post. And even Esquire Magazine's Scott Raab could see the reason for my assessment. And other people could understand why Esquire made the decision, as seen here on FishBowl D.C.

Well, she went and got herself in the marital way--back in May, actually, and she's now Brawner. A few weeks ago a caller asked her outright, "Did you get married?" and she responded with one of her smiles, "Yes, yes, I did" as though you couldn't notice the sizable glittering adornment on her heart finger. At any rate, the best of all happiness is wished to her and Mr. Brawner.

That's going to take some getting used to. Look at her. She's like our Mona Lisa of public policy. Except, of course, Greta does research, write and conduct herself as a journalist. She doesn't need graphics and theme music. She already has them.

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At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree.

At 7:18 AM, Blogger HEK said...


Thanks for stopping in...and you agree--with everything in this post? That's a first for the Blue Raccoon. Come back more often.

At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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