Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

August 20, 2004

A Summer Locust, and a Recollection

Whenever I hear the high-pitched whining-buzzsaw of the locust--in Maine, that's always an August sound--it seems to connect me up with similar warm summer days in my childhood. For a moment, only for a moment, I am almost fooled. For a moment I almost believe -- almost -- that I'm a little boy again.

We lived in a double-block on Spencer Street, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. There was just a narrow walkway between our house and that of our neighbor. Your shoulder rubbed against the scratchy faux-brick shingles as you walked along. The back yard was a little space of flat stones.

Once, for reasons I no longer recall, I ran away from home. I told my mother I would, and she said, Go ahead then. See if I care.

So I walked up the big hill (paved with yellow bricks, if you can believe that) to Union Street. Traffic raced by, and no one seemed to notice me. I was afraid to cross, so I turned left and simply walked around the block. It seemed a very long way, and I was very far from home. I was both frightened and proud. In the end, coming back to the house seemed only natural. I had really run away, and now I was coming home.

My mother was watching for me. She said, Back so soon?

I said, hoping to impress her, I ran away. I went all the way around the block.

My mother said, Well that's a long way. That's quite an adventure.


What brought all these scraps of memory back to me? A locust. A locust in the maple tree. Funny how a sound--or a taste, an odor, a color--can bring in its wake a distant, shimmering world.


Post a Comment

<< Home