Commentary
5:00 am
Fri September 2, 2011

Richard Crowson: Crickets

Crickets chirping. That’s a favorite Internet phrase that’s usually meant to point out a pause or a lack of response to something that was said during an internet conversation. Like for instance if a commenter said: “Anyone out there sorry to see this splendid summer coming to an end?” Then no one responds and someone says, “Crickets chirping.”

Well, out here in non-Internet land, meaning in this place where the scorched grass crunches beneath our feet and the hot breezes burn our skin, out here where our fingers don’t tap on keyboards but instead hold onto things like dog leashes and such, if you listen carefully you can actually here the sound of real live crickets chirping.

We know that chirp to be one of the surest harbingers of the end of summer on the prairie. The crickets’ sound promises cooler days and the fading of the green from leaves that will soon be fluttering earthward on a crisp wind that actually has a bit of a chill in it.

The extremes of our seasons here in Kansas often cause me to feel relief at one season’s waning and nearly giddy with anticipation of the next. And, whew, what a summer it has been in terms of both weather and politics.

The prairie’s subtle beauty is easily overlooked. Without the visual drama of mountains or the roaring pulsation of ocean waves, our prairie whispers its sweetness to us. With our earbuds and our surround-sound home theater systems and our cell phones insisting on our attention, the prairie’s soft song often goes unheard.

But I happened to hear it this morning on a stroll with my dogs. Tiny insects sent forth the fanfare to mark the upcoming arrival of autumn on the prairie. Crickets chirping. Never was that sound more welcome to my ears.