James Lileks
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The sound of winter: nothing. It’s the quiet unheard song of a dreaming world, if you wish, or the cruel vacancy of deep space, with perhaps someone stuck in the rings of Saturn, spinning their wheels.

Summer has a soundtrack, though — mostly dude bugs and bro-frogs saying, “Hey gals, over here, hot stuff.”

The noisemakers include:

Cicadas. If you’re hearing something that sounds like a squirrel choking to death on a kazoo, that’s a dog-day cicada. They make that buzzing drone to attract mates, because apparently that’s their idea of sparkling conversation. “Hello, I am a neotibicen canicularis and I would like to meet a lady version. Thank you.”

In your backyard there are 6,000 cicadas thinking, “Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.”

Crickets. Wikipedia says they’re trying “to attract females with a loud and monotonous sound.” Well, it worked for Mick Jagger. They’re also telling us the temperature. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac — and who doesn’t trust an old farmer? — count the number of chirps in 25 seconds, divide by 3, then add 4 and you have the temperature in Celsius. Or just check your phone.

Frogs. These I don’t hear anymore. It seems we ran out of frogs.

When I was growing up, the nightly burps of the gassy amphibians was a friendly summer song. Until I stepped on one. It wasn’t intentional. Jumped off the porch on to the lawn in a fit of youthful whee-ha school’s-out glee and put a Ked right on a big fat frog — which, let me tell you, was disgusting. Drop a bag of green Jell-O off the Foshay and you’ll know what I mean.

Well, make that red Jell-O. I always felt bad about that. The nightly barrupp sounded a bit more ominous after that.

That’s just a few. Add these: the trill of birdsong, the nasty chatter of fighting squirrels, the yippy dog up the street and the mastiff woofing a reply, the throaty oration of the occasional plane, the hiss of the sprinklers kicking in, the wordless wind conversing with the leaves. You can hear an impromptu chorale every sunset. The same score every night.

We tend to take it for granted after a while, and then the voices drop out one by one until the music is over, and along come the southbound geese like janitors cleaning up the hall after the show’s done.

One sound I forgot to mention: the sudden loud “neeeeee” in your ear when a skeeter bores in. You hit your head hard and hear a droning whine for a moment. Hope the lady cicadas don’t hear that and get their hopes up. Sorry, gals. I’m taken.