One of my favourite sounds in the world is the singing of crickets in the evening as the dusk and darkness fall. Crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas - whatever they are; that throw up that low chirruping hum that makes the very air seem to shimmer with sound, that sound the hypnotic pulsing in the shadows that is the essence of dying heat and daylight - oh, it brings back such precious memories to me; of gazing up at clear star-studded skies in Colorado, night times floating in the warm waters of the hot springs in the arms of a lover, the sharp reek of sulphur rising with the steam, and all around the murmuring of the crickets. So imagine my joy when on a rare warm night last week, sitting in my friend's garden, that sound rose again into the night silence from a sun-warmed pile of rubble. And imagine my horror when I exclaimed in delight and she couldn't hear it. Was I hallucinating? Longing for the summer we haven't really had so much that I was conjuring its essence from memory and sheer force of will? The next night was equally warm (last Saturday, and yes, that was really the last day of summer!), and I was sitting in the same spot, with the same friend and other acquaintances of hers, and once more the low song began in the stone pile... I called for silence and everyone listened and only one person, apart from me, could hear it from where we were sitting. All but that one person were twenty or so years older than me. It does seem that, in this country at least, the cricket orchestra only plays to the under 40's, unless you're up close and personal.
I was so insistent that yes, the crickets were singing, that everyone got up and headed for the stone pile (to shut me up, I think!); after several minutes of silence, the insects struck up again, almost louder than before, amazed or terrified by the sudden proximity of their audience. And this time everyone heard them. A relief for me, because I was starting to feel that maybe the years would rob me of the ability to hear that precious sound forever, and with it the essence of memory. But it won't. I will just need to keep my mind open to wonders that are not immediately apparent. I will need to keep listening.