In the summer of my youth, we would be sitting out on the concrete steps to our house soaking in some of the last searing heat of the day. That or we’d be playing yet another game of tag or wiffle ball in the streets. The locusts would be singing in the trees as the sun slowly faded away in the west. A soft breeze would drift across the Iowa prairie and it would catch some of the coolness of the grass every now and then. The stars slowly started to come out one by one as daytime faded into night. The older neighbors would be out on their porches with their glasses of iced tea and hand fans in some desperate attempt to cool off.
The street lights would slowly come on one by one and it was a signal to us kids that we better have our tails in our own yard before Momma noticed the lights were on. She didn’t need to even bother to look out the front door. All the neighbor kids would be yelling “STREET LIGHT” as a warning to one another that it was time to get home. We’d yell it loud enough that we could have wakened the dead if we wanted to. We would skedaddle for home and then ask if we could go to some neighbor’s yard to continue to play but she would take one look at how dirty we were after a day of play and order us off to the bathroom for soap and a tub of water. Lava soap may have been rough but it took the dirt off a young hooligan’s legs and feet.
We’d get all cleaned up and squeaky clean once again and end up in our pajamas for the night. My brothers and I hated that. It was hot and humid and there was no air conditioning for our house. The pajamas kept in the heat and it was already hot enough in our house. We wanted to go back outside where it was cooling off so we could catch fireflies and put them in a mason jar and then watch them glow in the night. That or we’d wanna hunt for worms so we could sneak off and go fishing the next day before my oldest sister, The Troll, knew we were even gone. Momma wouldn’t have none of that and she’d order us off to bed.
We’d go of course because we knew if we didn’t do what Momma said it would mean a swat on our behinds as motivation to get moving. But we’d get upstairs and lay some blankets on the wood floor and take our pillows since it was cooler to sleep there instead of in a hot bed. We’d lay there and talk with the box fan blowing cooler night air into our room and listen to the traffic on the highway. You’d hear yet another Burlington Northern coal train running through town and then hear the Amtrak roll in at 9:30. After a while the night would grow silent as southern Iowa fell slowly off to sleep.