There's a feel to the air that I can only describe as summer evening. As an adult, I know it's humid and we complain about it being hot and sticky, but I remember as a kid heading outside after dinner and feeling that night air.
The sun is out, but lower and slower. The intense heat turning in for the night. My collie, Lucky, no longer pants but lies still beside me while I sit waiting for the other neighborhood kids to be released from eating one more bite. They head out the doors ready for last games before being called in for baths and turned down beds. We can hear Mrs. White chatting while bouncing in a metal lawn chair. Mr. White, in a short-sleeve shirt as thin as a lady's hanky, drinks from a beer bottle and mops his forehead. Next door, we hear the "snip-snip" of manual hedge trimmers as Mr. Colette manicures his living fence. Back doors are open and the sound of clinking dishes being rinsed of suds mingles with the voices of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.
Whirring bike wheels spin closer and soon, there are half a dozen Schwinns lying on the lawn while we sit in a circle voting on our last game of the day. Kickball? Cops and robbers? Pitch a few? Kickball wins out and we begin picking teams by playing hot-potato. Divided, we begin and circle the bases. My mailbox is first base. I never stop at first and often round third for a home run. Darkness quietly wraps around us as lightening bugs dance and a chorus of creek-side croaking begins. We can barely see the ball as it bounces toward the next kicker. Suddenly, the sound of a dinner bell breaks the air. "Hey Joe, it's your bell," the first baseman hollers. Joe waves and heads through the back yards. With that, one by one, the signals from other bells resonate. We wait it out until the last players are forced to take the ball home and wait for tomorrow.
Mr. Bubble fills the old tub and cotton pajamas wait. The window is open next to the twin beds and the attic fan plays a sonata of rattles drawing a breeze across my thin cowboy blanket. After "Now I Lay Me" and kisses from Mom, my little brother is soon breathing deeply in the bed beside me. When I'm sure Mom and Dad are downstairs, I switch on my flashlight under the covers and read adventures of Beetle Bailey, Little LuLu, Casper, or Archie. The fan rattles a lullaby and I feel the flashlight being pulled from my hand. Snuggling deeper under my covers, I faintly hear the crickets as I give in to deep sleep. Dreaming of tomorrow and the wonderful adventure of simplicity.