Sounds of Summer

(This is not a poem)

August on the Eastern shore
Quiet on the river
Birds chirruping in the trees
Crickets—or are they cicadas—clicking in the afternoon, clicking that will build to a crescendo in the evening
CaCaCa of peacocks next door
Water trickling, flowing slowly out to the bay
A power boat whishing by, heading to the open water
A leaf blower, a lawn mower in the distance, jarring the quiet
Leaves rustling in the breeze
Breeze skimming the trees, rustling, rushing louder now, emboldened
More birds chirping, the beginning of a larger conversation
At the very top of a tree at the river’s edge a black bird keeps watch, looking first out to sea then to land, then trips lightly along the branches, lets out a caw and flies away.

I sit here, listening to all these sounds of late summer.

Soon the children will come home from camp, run outside, filled with their day—karate lessons, swimming, new friends—but for now in the quiet, I am “happy in my circle of oblivion,” to borrow a phrase from Garcia Márquez, whom I’m reading on this rare, undisturbed afternoon.

The news—the sturm and drang of presidential politics, the daily offenses—are outside this space on the river. For a brief moment the troubles of the world seem held at bay. Even the trials and triumphs of the Olympics must await the evening news.

I watch three billowing white clouds drift by ever so slowly in the blue sky.

As the breeze picks up, the trees rustle, continuing a conversation, stirring first one tree then another, passing along the wind’s gossip down the river bank.

If this light wind holds, it will be good kite-flying weather in the evening.  We can have another picnic by the river with grandfather sitting in the Adirondack chair and everyone else on the grass—hot dogs, hamburgers, corn, applesauce, kite in the air, children running, laughing.

The parade of clouds drifts by overhead now like characters in the children’s play they plan for the grownups. “One, two, three…look at me!” The black dog passes all dressed up to play a part in the drama as he looks for scraps from dinner. The shapes of the clouds pass and just blue sky shines overhead. We will end the evening with S’mores at the fire pit as the moon rises over the river.

There are only three more weeks of summer—more books to read, stories to write, laps to swim, thoughts to think before the demands of schedules and meetings and deadlines crowd in.

For this moment I am grateful for the silence, the breeze, the birds, the river, the shining sky, the billowing clouds and the promise of this afternoon that I will carry with me.



  1. Julia Malone on August 11, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Joanne, I love this word video…I want to be there. No, I am there and it makes me happy.

  2. Elyssa Ackerman on August 11, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    When my peaceful summer thoughts inevitably become bombarded by the changes that lie ahead come September: faster pace of work, managing school schedules and the general shift in attitude from summer to fall, I will remember these poetic words. My favorite line is the “winds gossip” which will help tether me to the wonderful sounds and sights of summer. Thank you for that.

  3. Peggy Marks on August 12, 2016 at 12:28 am

    Joanne, I’m right there with Julia – what a beautiful, peaceful afternoon! Enjoy every second, and the fun evening, too! Such a lovely story!

  4. ELIJAH KIMANI on August 12, 2016 at 4:07 am

    Where is these place? I would love to go and forget all hustle and bustle ….for a moment I was carried away and found myself in scenery and it was peaceful and brought with it sweet memories of life .it made me pray for my future. …thanks for that reminder to make summer unforgettable there is much to enjoy…have a wonderful one too.

  5. chiara macconi on August 12, 2016 at 6:33 am

    lovely, Joanne
    from a different environment
    with cicadas playing non-stop monotonous songs
    quiet days and nice friends
    some hiking and rowing
    and congress difficult booking
    waiting for september
    with a new book

  6. Linda Sutliff on August 12, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Thanks, Joanne, for sharing your beautiful summer afternoon with us! I felt in the midst of it all!
    Linda sutliff

  7. Jenny H on August 12, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for this Joanne, it is important to stop, reflect, listen every now and then .. August in Dorset would have been ideal .. but we are in Rio – so at the other end of the spectrum! At the moment it is raining, but yesterday we went to the rowing in Lagoa, which was fantastic, Dan and I were sandwiched between a sea of yellow in front (the Aussies) and a wave of orange behind (the Dutch) .. great fun! –

  8. Sally Howell on October 2, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Joanne, Thank you the summer-time respite of your blog. I’ve read and reread it as I’ve needed to slow down the rhythm of a day, or even feel long distance, from California, that there’s a punctuation of seasons. This post shows, again, how words can calm or ignite, clarify or obscure. I appreciate your words, and the part you play in supporting freedom for writers around the world to share their words. Thank you.

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