After a long dry “winter,” the rainy season has returned to Florida’s western coast with intermittent rains last week followed by a torrential tropical downpour late yesterday afternoon. The dark shelf clouds rolled in off of the Gulf of Mexico complete with thunder and lightning, beginning the summer refill of the receding great swamp behind my house.
It was also accompanied by a power outage. So after a few hours went by with no power and the sun began to set I retrieved my hurricane flashlight and got the candles ready for a darkened evening. The temperatures had cooled considerably after the rains so I opened the back doors as it become cooler outside than in.
After speaking with my daughters I shut off the cell phone to conserve the battery should I need it. And as the sun set over the swamp it was time to move to a comfortable chair out in the screened lanai to listen to the sounds of the Florida night critters.
The sand hill cranes were making quite a racket having seemingly enjoyed the chance to shower. A mated pair walked proudly by in a line, their chick walking between them, totally ignoring me. The procession of the living goes on.
Herons gathered at the edge of the water, hunting and pecking for their next meal, while a large tortoise crossed the empty road slowly moving toward the swamp.
How indifferent the life of the swamp to my quiet presence.
The power came on eventually but I continued to sit in the dark; the internet was also down so I had no computer ,television or land line phone. Might as well have no power.
So I sat, lit a cigar and poured myself a fine scotch neat, thinking of the hot summer nights of my youth sitting on a fire escape in my tightie whities, my back against the brown brick, listening to the sounds of the city.
Now in the dark I listen to the sounds of insects, croaking frogs, birds and armadillos coming out of their flooded holes in the ground. I swore I could hear the snakes.
Behind my home
Thunder and lightning
sturm und drang rolling o’er the bay;
low on the horizon
comes an electric storm of hail
breaking havoc, blowing transformers
leaving us in sparks and darkness
with only the sound of crickets and frogs,
the silence of my youth;
As I embrace a lounge chair in gentle sleep
you join me; kiss me
sharing the chair, limbs perfect and trembling
and we are young again
until you are gone
just like that,
awakened to the sounds of the lineman.