Southern Summer Nights

“A house without a front porch is as insignificant as a book without a title page.” — Anonymous

[Note: If you think you hear a cat in there, you do! His name is Caesar and he is wild.]

We recently bought our first home so we are still learning about its characters and quirks through the seasons. I want chickens and he wants to fence in the entire acreage. But, we decided to experience the home in all four seasons before we make any changes. Our property is smack between a lake and the mountains, and there is no shortage of wildlife. 

In late winter, the yard can be left untouched but critters may come a-knockin’ in the attic or garage. Come springtime, our cat has learned how to chase off squirrels and capture chipmunks as playmates. Spring is my favorite time to run with the dogs in the backyard after I depart from the daily 9-5 grind and before I settle in for a long night of Hebrew translations and sermon manuscripts. In the rainy times of spring and summer, millipedes take over and after the one-hundredth one appeared in my office, I resolved to become one with the many-legged creatures. No harm no foul. Fall time and the heart of winter still remain a surprise.

Enjoying summer time at our new home has not been an easy road. The humidity in the south is as thick as molasses. Our AC was out for one day and it felt like a million years. I never had that problem when I lived in an apartment! Like I said, out here in the woods, we have no shortage of bugs. Or coyotes. Or bears. Or turkeys. Or lizards or crickets who post up in our hallway. Although we have more privacy with the trees in full bloom, you would be hard-pressed to find me outside with the pups during the summertime. It’s too buggy. It’s too muggy. It’s much too much.

But then, I began to notice the cicada choir start up around 8pm every night. The sunset, behind the mountains that we see from our front porch, alternate from purple swirls to cotton candy pink to blood-red, to which my husband and I repeat to one another, “red skies at night, sailor’s delight.” There is a soft breeze on our property as the sun goes down and it beckons me outside when I have spent far too much time inside. Our garden consists of planters and weeds, and no crops to harvest, but it is my favorite place to walk through when I need a break from my schoolwork and ordination assignments. Our cat, Caesar, accompanies me as I walk through the garden, embrace the breeze and breathe deep the fresh air, and dream about what it can look like come next spring after we experience our home in all of the seasons.

One night, we were laying in bed and I could barely hear my husband over the sound of the cicada song. He scooted closer to me and said, “I know God is real because of the cicadas.” While my husband is a man of faith, I am generally the one who awakens spiritual conversation. When he wants to talk theology, I stop the whole world and listen because he sweet words are always full of great insight. Yet at that moment, I thought he was being silly and I didn’t understand. He repeated himself. “I know God is real because of the cicadas. They sing at night and not during the day. If they sang during the day, it would be so loud. But at night, they are peaceful. Like a lullaby.” In all seasons, there are things that will cry out to praise God or to note God’s existence among them. Even the rocks will cry out (Luke 19:40) to praise God. Even the cicadas will cry out in the summertime to praise God. With those words and the rise and fall of the cicada’s song, I was lulled to sleep.

Friends, I wish I could have each one of you on my front porch in a rocking chair to sip homemade sweet tea, see the mountains, and hear the sounds of a southern summer. But since I cannot, I leave you with these words and a clip of the choir that kisses our southern nights. This is their world, and we are just living in it, smack between a lake and the mountains, admiring the orchestra of nature that always points us back to the divine.

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