An evening walk with Michael provokes memories of a blonde hair, freckle face boy from the country.
In the cool of the evening, we’re walking along the Gardiners Creek track in Glen Iris, listening to the bird life settling down for the night, the frogs starting to croak and the insects making their noises.
The crickets in particular cast my mind back to long hot summers day in Hamilton. The day spent in the local swimming pool with little sun protection, getting sun-burned. We would wander home and eat our dinner of limp lettuce and fresh home-grown tomatoes with whatever cold meat was on special that week. As the cool of the night sets in Mum would take to watering the garden and grass. In those days a sprinkler was left on for spraying its water everywhere, every now and then she’d wander out and drag it along the grass a little by pulling on the hose. Those were the days, plenty of water, no thought for running the reservoir dry. We would be wearing only our togs on those balmy evenings. The doors and windows of the old weatherboard house would be flung wide open hoping to catch any whisper of a cool breeze. The big old water cooler would be regularly topped up with a bucket of water, pointed to Mum and Dad. Mum in her light dress, dad in his white singlet and shorts. He’d be drinking beer, pouring glass after glass from his long-necked bottle, Mum taking her time with her glass. Him smoking, she knitting.
As darkness sets in the ground comes alive with the sounds of crickets. Not cicadas, but the chirpy sounds of black crickets buried under the wet soil.
We’d rush outside when the chorus arose and jump up and down on the soggy lawn to silence then. As quick as one would go silent under our earth tremor another would start and we’d dart about the lawn with laughter and a sense of duty to bring silence to the world.
Tonight as I walked along I heard those crickets under the lawn, in a flashback to my childhood I was about to turn around and jump on the spot when Michael walked over them and silenced them.
We walked on, my memory of a time long ago faded and a sense of relief that I didn’t have to explain to him why I was jumping up and down. Still, I was left with a longing for a simpler time.