There are fireflies in my yard and Mason jars with holes poked in the lids on the kitchen counter. My yard smells like the center of heaven, green vines are climbing up columns, reaching toward the stars. It’s summertime in the South and all is right in the world.
As the sun dips down across the Talahatchie, I look out the window into the green canopy that I get to call my home. Under the shade of the ancient pecan tree I see four little girls. Their skinny little arms and legs awkwardly flailing as they swing, climb, and laugh as Moses, our black lab, playfully chases them around the yard. I’d give them five more minutes but it’s getting late.
I call to my daughters and my niece through the screendoor, “Aubrey! Emma! Sadie! Gracie! It’s time for baths and dinner!” They grumble and begrudgingly come inside, piling into the shower together and instantly turning the bottom of the tub black with the Mississippi mud that sloughs off their feet. They giggle and squeal, water spraying everywhere but in the tub.
I eavesdrop from the hall as they wash their hair and talk, “My Pa…” Emma, my middle child starts a story.
Gracie, my niece, interrupts, “HEY! I have a Pa, too!!” She says excitedly.
I can almost hear Aubrey’s eyes rolling from where I stand. The oldest of the group, it’s her job to keep those other girls in check, (I’m sure you understand.)
“Um, y’all both have a Pa because you are COUSINS. You have the same Pa. It’s the same. Understand? That’s why we are cousins. Cause we have the same Pa AND Shuggie… get it??”
A resounding chorus of, “Ooooohhhh! Ahhhhh! Okay! I see!” left me in fits of giggles so intense, I had to scramble away from the bathroom lest I get busted.
Dinner is hot and ready when they make their way, barely dressed, to the kitchen. There is no time to complain about what’s on their plates. The heat of the day, the hours spent in the sun, in the pool and on the trampoline have left them famished. They clean their plates and ask for seconds. Their little bellies are full, and I try to persuade them to get their pajamas on, brush their teeth, and snuggle up for a movie.
But someone sees the blink of a firefly through the kitchen window.
“Please!! PLEASE!!” They beg to go back outside.
“But y’all are all clean! The mosquitoes will eat you alive!”
“We’ll wash our feet when we come in! We don’t care about the mosquitoes! PLEASE, Momma! Please Aunt Rah-Rah! PLEASE!”
With a sigh and a nod, I release them back into the wild.
I have four little sun-kissed girls with hair scrubbed fresh and clean, still damp from the shower, chasing fireflies in their pajamas. Their hands are stretched in front of them, Mason jars are tucked tightly under their arms. They are breathing in that air that smells like honeysuckle, confederate jasmine and fresh-cut grass.
I look at the green vines climbing up posts, reaching towards the stars– there are fireflies in my yard and all is right in the world.
What are your favorite sounds and smells of summertime?