Summer Twilight

Among the best things about summer in the South are the long, lingering twilights, when the sun sets late, fireflies flash in the grass and under the trees, and bats flutter and swoop in a dusky orange sky.

Clate and I have fallen into the habit of walking up our driveway each evening after sunset to a point where we can see the western horizon and the open sky, and watching as the last light and color of the day fade slowly away. Tonight when we first walked up, the sky was still pale blue, gentle, traced with graceful, high, thin salmon-colored clouds. The deafening songs of cicadas drowned out all other sounds. Fireflies winked over the grass of our yard, around the bushes and edges of the woods, in the weeds of the vacant lot across the street. Two bats hunted in the open space around our cul de sac, small, rapidly moving silhouettes darting sharply in one direction and another as they chased insects, dipping down suddenly over the grass and sometimes hurtling past our heads so close I could feel one pass.

The humid air felt heavy, still, and very warm, except for thin, damp, cool currents that rose from the darker edges of the woods and curled around my legs. A misty, blurry gibbous moon hung high in the south over the treetops behind our house.

We watched clouds, bats, and fireflies until the first stars came out – one bright evening star very low in the west, and one other, smaller pinprick of light almost directly overhead – then started back down the driveway as the last colors turned to gray, and the first raspy songs of katydids began to take the place of the cicadas. Just then, in deepest twilight, we heard a wind rise in the north, and turned to watch as it came toward us, moving across the treetops of the woods across the street, and traveling down through the trees and bushes of our yard, and finally reaching us – a cool, fresh air that rushed over and around us and tossed all the trees and bushes, a dark, clean, exhilarating wind that swept away the muggy air of the day – at least for a few passing moments. Then we went inside for the night.

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