This is a picture taken a few years ago when I returned to my hometown in central Illinois. July always brings so many memories of my childhood back to me. Especially the warm summer nights of midsummer. As my dad used to say...listen to the corn growing. And I could add the crickets chirping and the frogs croaking.
As soon as supper was over we would escape outside...screen door banging signaling our exit. We would gather across the street at our neighbors...all of us kids....and choose a game to play in the gathering twilight. Sometimes it was Hide and Seek. Sometimes Kick the Can. And sometimes just a pick-up game of baseball with all ages playing together.
If the fireflies were especially thick we would go and get a jar from home. We'd chase those flickering lights up and down the field, sometimes catching one just as it doused its light. Letting it crawl across our fingers we could coax it into the jar and clap the lid on quickly. The more fireflies you caught the more light they made. What joy to hold it up to our faces, very close, and marvel at the way they would make their bodies glow..off and on...off and on.
For a few glorious weeks I visited my cousins a little farther south in Woodford County. My uncle ran a body shop in ElPaso and he would haul us down to Bloomington to the stock car races at least once or twice during our visit. Climbing high up in the bleachers we could see the whole racetrack down below. Smoke, crashes, lots of action. The smell of burning tires....the screech of brakes as contact was made....and above it all the haze of that midwestern night....humidity clashing with night air...and the chilliness that came with the advancing darkness. Bright lights made it seem like day, but when you looked around you could see the thick night crowding in on you. Shivering, I would draw closer to my uncle and he would cuddle me in his strong arms.
I wish I had some way to open the memories of those magical evenings and show them to my grandson Gus. He will have his own chance one of these days. Summer nights pass by so quickly. Enjoy them while you can.