A few summers back, I was going through a particularly difficult period. Everything seemed to be going wrong on so many levels. The weather was miserable. My health wasn't too great. Friends and family were in distress over other life problems.
On one hot, humid, sticky, and terribly cloudy day that summer, I walked down my block, a bit disheartened by this state of affairs. For one brief moment, I looked up at the sky and saw the most elegant Monarch butterfly. And for that one moment, a feeling of total relaxation came over me. A world with that kind of beauty, I reasoned, will allow for all these difficulties to pass.
And in that instant ... I kid you not ... a bird flew by, grabbed the Monarch in its beak, and flew off.
I looked up at the sky again. Shook my head in disbelief. And couldn't help but chuckle. It was as if the gods had sent me a message: "Life really is that dismal, Chris, and you'll get no relief today!"
But it all came to pass. And several consecutive summers with lousy weather have given way to one of the most glorious summers in New York City that we've had in recent years.
I love the summer.
Now, in its waning days, I have a slight sense of melancholy, which is tempered only by the still-warm temperatures in the still-Baking Apple. They'll reach 84 degrees today, and the 80s throughout the rest of this week.
One of the things I'll most miss about summer, however, are the bugs. The insects. Flying. Crawling. Creeping. They are a perennial sign of life. And this summer in the city was like the classic summers of old. Bugs that were not too plentiful in recent years seem to have come back in droves. Maybe it was the weather.
June into early July started out with the biggest burst of fireflies ("lightning bugs") that I've ever seen in my entire life while living here in Brooklyn. So sparkling was the nightly display that the front lawns and backyards of my neighborhood looked as if it were Christmas in July. Mating insects never seemed so sexy.
The fireflies eventually went away ... only to be replaced by hordes of various kinds of butterflies. There were even more Monarch butterflies this summer. One afternoon, two Monarchs were fluttering around one another in a spiral; I followed their dance for almost the length of my entire block, my dog Blondie in tow. I'm sure they found romance beyond my field of vision. At least there were no birds descending this time 'round!
I've had a Beetle land in my hair, a Ladybug land on my hand, a Jurassic-sized Dragonfly (or "Dining Needle") land bingo on my beach blanket. I've marveled at athletic grasshoppers and diligent ants. In fact, as my aging dog's diet has changed, I had all this leftover Fit and Trim. I chopped it into a fine substance, and dumped it on the borders of sand and grass at Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn. When I came back the following week, I saw that the ants had made a hotel out of it ... the kind of hotel that you could eat if you got tired of living there!
As July literally melted into the "Dog Days of August," the Cicadas arrived like clockwork for their annual appearance. In unison, they sing, though their melody sounds more like a sprawling sprinkler system, reverberating for miles around, reassuring us that they'll hold off the Fall for as long as they can.
September is here. Their sounds are almost gone.
And I confess that I'll miss the sounds and sights of the Bugs of Summer.
But there are Sounds and Sights of Autumn too.
Soon the Boys of Summer will be gearing up for the Fall Classic. For me, the crack of the October bat is as musical as the nightly chorus of crickets still serenading us (they'll stick around for quite a while yet...).
Do not ask me about the Yankees' chances; I'm having periodic nervous breakdowns with this team all season! But that's part of the summer too! At least these Damn Yankees (who have adopted the phrase "Grind It" as their mantra) are giving us a fun run in the final weeks of the regular season (Bubba Crosby's walk-off home run last night was terrific).
So here's to the Summer of 2005 ... you and your bugs were nice to be around.