The Soundszzzz of SummerrrRRrrRRRrrr

Aug 31st 2011

Tomorrow, I told myself, I will walk the beach at six a.m.. I imagined the lapping waves, the singing sand, the tumbletoss hiss of pebble against rock, the plaintive cry of the seagulls. The soft and subtle sounds of summer were calling to me. I needed to be there.

By six a.m. the next day, I was ready. I had wakened rather suddenly to the roar of three tractors laboring on the fairway near my house. They were spiraling around in concentric circles with blowers on their backs the size of sewer pipes, drying out the grass. Their sound faded into the distance as I drove off toward the harbor, where I would begin my walk.

After parking, I started my trek to the beach, taking a moment to watch early morning rays glisten across a quiet inlet. Several mowers were humming back and forth across a nearby playing field as I walked by.

The beach was empty but for a few other early walkers, far in the distance. I flipped off my sandals and felt the dry sand crunch under my feet, the breeze on my face. I watched for sea glass and shells as I strolled along the shoreline. Three workers buzzing their weed whackers around the rocks were eventually drowned out by the trucks rolling towards me through the sand, fanning out to gather up yesterday’s seaweed, flotsam and beach trash. I managed to avoid them as I headed back, catching the familiar high-pitched beep- beep-beep of the giant trash compactor backing up to empty the rubbish barrels. I did hear a seagull, which sounded for a moment like the compactor.

My walk back to the harbor was peaceful, with only one mower pushing his machine along the sidewalk edge to trim up the grassy strip. I couldn’t help but notice the the size of his headphones, which were truly impressive.

Arriving back at the harbor, I sat on a bench for a while, taking in a snowy egret’s delicate dance along the tidal edge, the bobbing boats, the growing light of the rising sun. A small power boat pulled away from the dock, its modest putt-putt obliterated by the lobstermen revving up their belching diesel engines, heading out to pull their pots. I slid into my car and relaxed for one more moment, with windows open to catch a last bit of sea breeze. I was also able to catch the fumes from the car that pulled up beside me. The driver arrived to enjoy his morning coffee and newspaper, idling his engine to power the air conditioner. Over by the drawbridge, a commuter train chugged by.

I pulled back into my driveway in time to see the giant blowers drive away and the mowers begin. Each operator was seated on his own roaring machine, trimming the grass so that later on, golf carts could hum effortlessly between all eighteen holes.

I watched a small squirrel in a nearby tree, scolding one of the catbirds. At least, I think that’s what it was doing. I couldn’t hear it very well over the mowers.

And the sounds of summer hovered over all.