Sounds of Summer

Birds. Early this morning, I woke to the pre-dawn twittering of birds. I grumbled when I saw the clock read only 4:30, but then realized that I was only hearing such music because it’s finally spring enough to leave windows open overnight. And not just cracked for some borderline-cold air. Rather, several nights in the last week, I’ve drifted to sleep with my bedroom windows wide open, curtains swaying with the breeze off the Fox.

After a couple of false starts, it’s nice to finally have a taste of summer. And over the last few days, I’ve noticed the sounds of summer filtering back in, filling the white quiet hush of winter hibernation.

First and foremost, of course, are the trains. I’ve grown used to their rumble, and  tell time by when inbound vs outbound Metras lean on their horns to cross National Street. I typically sleep through the overnight freights, carrying shiny new cars from the Chrysler plant in Belvidere. Occasionally, I stir as they rattle pictures on the walls. But with the windows open, the roar of the trains is suddenly in technicolor. Even the cat blearily raises her head, rotating her ears towards the windows. When I’m on the phone, people notice them, too, and I find myself muting my line on conference calls.

The other sounds are more subtle, bits of background noise I didn’t realize I’d missed.

Kids playing soccer across the street, the thud of the ball against their feet contrasting with the thwack of the pavement. Laughter. Dogs barking, often at each other. Voices of passers by as they head down the hill, or the quieter shuffle of steps as they return, tired from the climb with their groceries. Motorcycles. Mariachi music, with the same oompah rhythm of a polka. Bikes gliding down the street. Car doors closing. The wobbling single training wheel on a neighbor’s bike, as the post for the missing wheel clatters on the sidewalk. The rustling of squirrels. A woodpecker.

And when I leave the house, there are fresh sounds, too, no longer muffled by scarves or hats or hoods. The birds are louder, the cars more audible. I’ve started to run again, and the familiar sound of my steps on the crushed limestone at Grolich Park is comforting as I try to rebuild some endurance. Construction crews have reappeared with jackhammers and bulldozers.

What sounds have you noticed? Which did you miss?

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