Our summer house was only twenty miles from where we lived year round. Twenty miles was a lot longer then than it is now. The roads to our summer place were narrow at best and for the last ten miles it was dirt road and in bad weather hard to pass. All the houses on our side of the river were summer camps then. None of them had furnaces and air conditioning wasn’t even in the question then. Our real houses didn’t even have that.
In fact, there was almost nothing to our place, really. I’ll go out of my way every now and then to drive by it. The road is better now; paved all the way, but almost all of the old summer camps are in ruins. Our place burned down a few years after we sold it. We didn’t even know the people who owned it then.
All it was was a little shack on the river with a big, screened in front porch. We slept out there on warm nights and went to sleep under the hypnosis of the songs of the frogs and locusts that droned loudly in the darkness.
When I got a little older, Mom and Dad would let me lay out on our dock after dark. They would be on the porch, close enough to see my silhouette against the glossy black water, but I was in another world. They thought I was fishing, and technically I was. I had a hook in the water and brought in a catfish now and then, but what I was really doing was listening to the voices floating across the river.
Voices and music, to be completely accurate about it. Men and women talking while the radio played. I never found the station they listened to, myself, but the music there intrigued me. It was neither the country or the pop that I had heard everywhere else, but it had a kind of life and sweetness to it that I loved.
The men and women laughed a lot and I knew they were speaking a kind of language that I wanted to learn.