I should explain that our over-thirty years without air-conditioning and the resultant necessity of open windows had accustomed us to the deafening roar of six-legged suiters trying to drown one another out from dusk to dawn. What defines orthoptera - this insect family - is its musical ability, cleverly produced by turning one's legs into string instruments. And what choir competitions result!
When air-conditioning “splits” became available and we could cool specific rooms without ripping the walls out to add ductwork, we closed the windows of course and the nights suddenly went silent. You would think the absence of ear-splitting duelling violins a good thing if you didn’t know the difference. We realized that we had loved it, for it had connected us to that other invisible web of life outside the footprint of the house, while simultaneously proving an effective white noise to cancel any unwelcome human noises. Insect concerts, like tree frog trilling in spring, celebrate life at its lustiest yet charge no admission.
Weeding sometimes reminds me how much I have missed this tapestry of sound. On my hands and knees, I not only listen but look, enjoying a closeup of the grass and its denizens — a juicy red wiggler accidentally unearthed (Did you know that earthworms are not native to North America?), a tiny veronica with blue blossoms, a fresh walnut just buried by a squirrel, a wee black and white feather no doubt dropped by a downy woodpecker. I may be delusional, but weeding is always something of an adventure.
This photo is of a Deptford pink I found one day, its scale suggested by the clover leaves beside it. Only an inch or two in height, these exquisite miniatures are nonetheless carnations, as you can see from their paired leaves and five petals with “pinked” edges; gloriously beautiful, they manage to survive everything, included power-mowing, that life throws at them.
Don't worry, by the way -- even if you feel a slight urge to hand-weed your lawn, it will pass. It always does for me.