It’s the first sleepover of the summer. I’ve waited months for this night! We’re in our attic fort, behind the house, among the rafters that extend above the woodpile. Mosquitos buzzing past our ears, dive bombing us, trying to catch some bare patch of skin where they can land.
The frogs creak, croak, groan and gurgle in the swamp. Whoever decided to call that cacophony ‘singing’ must have been mad but it is beautiful, in its own way.
A cow lows in the distance, calling its calf to its side for the night.
There are the whispers and stifled giggles of the other girls, Chantal, Andi, Jasmine (we have to whisper, mom said she’d separate us if she hears us, and we dread the back door opening, we know she’ll do it!)
Dad’s voice rumbles. He’s on the telephone, talking to Uncle Dan about the haying and which field they’ll do tomorrow.
Mom’s practicing the piano, mostly church music, getting ready early for Sunday morning. When she comes to Amazing Grace we sing softly for a verse or two, until we lose the words and relapse into giggles.
There is a brief scrabbling on the plywood side of the house, a soft patting of feet, and my tortoiseshell cat comes to investigate this intrusion into her realm. Sniffing each girls face, she raises more giggles as her whiskers tickle our noses. She settles down on the foot of my sleeping bag, her low rumbling purr half heard, half felt through the soles of my feet.
The stove door creeks, and there’s the dull clang of a new log being rammed in, hitting the stove’s back wall.
Slowly the frogs cease their serenade, one by one, until one squeaky little fellow is left all alone and finally trails off. The piano lid closes with a soft thud. The house is quiet, the voices gone still, leaving only the sighing of the wind through the tall old cedars above to lull us to sleep.
And suddenly the thump and crack of Dad splitting kindling wakes us and it’s morning. And we are left to giggle at the weird patterns left by bug bites on each other’s faces as we wriggle out of our sleeping bags and climb down the ladder made of random boards my brother nailed to the corner post and run inside to the hiss and gurgle of the old coffee pot and the sizzle of bacon in the frying pan.