I remember sitting in grandma’s front yard in West Memphis, barefoot swinging on her aluminum swing on warm summer nights. My first cousin, Jeffery often joined me. Neighborhood kids who befriended us would stop by and eat snacks and listen to our stories about life in the big city …. Chicago.
Folks from Chicago were considered big shots, even kids. Many neighborhood kids befriended us for that reason alone. We were from the big city where there were lots of people and life was tough. This of course meant we were tough too. Many of the kids were afraid of us and said folks from Chicago knew how to fight and enjoyed it. We didn’t encourage this reputation, but didn’t discourage it either because it gave us a sense of power they didn’t have.
As the sun set, we swung back and forth, talking and forgetting all our troubles. The rusty swing set groaned under our weight as if in pain. Crickets sang in unison and nearby frogs croaked loudly to let us know they existed too. June bugs and fireflies filled the night mist, and buzzed softly around the glow of the porch light.
The sight of all the bugs attracted by the light overwhelmed us. Many times we feared the bugs would attack us as we tried to enter the house. We pictured fighting off the huge swarm as they tried to land in our eyes, ears and mouth. But they ignored us and never flinch as we approached or went in and out the door. Once inside the house, we would peer at their tiny bellies and black pinhead eyes through our side of the clear plexiglass door. There were hundreds of them and the most ominous of all were moths. They were a spooky sight in their beige silk dresses and black beady eyes. We were amazed they all seemed to get along, and made room for any stragglers.
After a heavy rain or storm, dragonflies would arrive on cue and do a ballet in the wind. They were especially scary since they were so large – some were at least eight inches long. They would never land so we could inspect them closely. They would proudly dance in the air and live up to their names of dragonflies – hideous bugs with huge head like dragons, oversized wings, and bodies of flies.
They seemed to take some form of delight in swooping up and down as neighborhood kids screamed and ran for cover in sheer terror at the mere sight of them. We figured the moisture from the rain attracted them because we never saw them on dry days.
I truly enjoyed my annual summer visits to grandma’s. The crickets’ song on warm midsummer nights, making up tough stories about the dangerous streets of Chicago, swinging back and forth with Jeffery on the rusty swing set, and vivid images of black pin head bug eyes will always hold a special place in my heart.