The summer night presses close against my open window. Because we are a ways away from town, the night is even darker than it would be otherwise, and the noises are that of country, not civilization–A lone tree frog, croaking a couple of times each minute; a persistent cricket; some faint rustles near the treeline, which could be a deer or a coyote or serial killer, but most likely is one of the neurotic chipmunks that tunnel their way through the backyard and drive my poor Aunt Jo insane.
Earlier in the day, at my request, she took me around and showed her various gardens, filled with everything from kale to black-eyed susans to green beans to raspberries to hydrangeas. But for each blossoming bush, she had a story of one plant crushed by bunnies, another decimated by hungry deer, yet another ravaged by the birds who aren’t satisfied with the feeder. After a while, I felt like I was getting less of a tour and more of a roll call of the honored dead vegetation, fallen at the hands (teeth) of Southern Indiana critters and varmints.
Still, those chipmunks are goddamned cute.
So, day 1 of 17 has passed, filled with kind relatives and scrumptious food and fireflies and firecrackers and my quiet resolve to return home, permanently, one of these days.