“He really was an enchanting person. In some way he was like the spiritual father of everybody…. It is hard to imagine Central Park without Charles Kennedy.” Marie Winn, author of Red-tails in Love, and close friend of Charles, remembering him after his death in October 2004

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August In Iowa

photo by Charles 

cicadas are

In this elegant, percussive haiku, Charles captures the pulse of August in Central Park. For Charles, cicadas and fireflies were important touchstones to a youth spent in small-town Iowa.*

steep ceiling
of cicada voices
August chant

the three year old
misses the falling star
grabs for the firefly 

I spent my first twenty-one Augusts in Iowa. Now that I've been back in the home state for the past 8 days, I'm remembering that August can be a complicated month. I'm sitting in U of Iowa hospital watching light rain further soak the saturated lawn. My mother has come through her cancer surgery well, considering that the doc had to work on her for nearly six hours. She is chipper and determined to prevail. I believe it helps that she and my dad celebrated their 56th anniversary the day after her surgery––love, resilience, partnership, beating the odds. He is right by her side, looking strong with his can-do approach. Dad and I took a walk around the neighborhood the other night, flashed by summer's last fireflies, counting all the blessings in Mom's recovery. August optimism.  

August rolls in like the poster-month for summer with suffocating deep-fryer heat and humidity.  Then mid-month, as with two days this week, the same bright sun shows up, but the temperature drops 10 degrees and the air dries.  The seeds of autumn are stored in August.

On this trip the nieces and nephews seem more fresh and vibrant than ever––unaffected by the heat index; no artifice in their exuberance about prospects for their grandma's recovery. And we've shared a handful of "Charles moments." We marveled at the rust-capped swirl of Chipping Sparrows on my parents' lawn, and pondered the synchrony of insect hatches and maturing seed heads with late-summer bird migration: eat some seeds, knock some into the soil, and carry some to new places, providing strength for the southward journey as well as next summer's sustenance. August launches spring.

And, of course, we listened to the cicada chorus. We collected their shiny brown husks and giggled at the idea of cicadas being bagpipes. An entire lifetime of just a day or two in which to make all that noise and leave a starter kit for a future August concert. I gotta believe we all have tickets to that concert.

*(These haiku can be found in The Fish Jumps Out of the Moon:Haiku of Charles F. Kennedy. 2010 Cerberus Press.)


Craig said...

Those bagpipers play nightly up here, too. I'd miss them if they were gone.

Best wishes to your mom. Prayers, too.


Steve Kennedy said...

Thanks, Craig. Mom appreciates your support. Cicadas are part of a natural rhythm that takes me back to earliest memories. We don't have fireflies in Denver, so it is a special treat to be in the midwest in the summertime.

TwoSpecialWires said...

Steve. Are we the first two four-leggeds to ever comment on your blog? May we take credit for what our moma (sic) sometimes speaks? We've just stumbled upon you ... and are happy that we have. We, like you, were recently in Iowa. On one of the cool drier days. And it was lovely. No fireflies for us (though we enjoyed them in the hills of Virginia just a few days earlier.) But now we know where we can come for a dose of nostalgia. Of nature. And of the important stuff in life.

We'll be back. With Moma.
Jake and Fergi xxoo

Steve Kennedy said...

Welcome, Jake and Fergie! I appreciate your comments and I look forward to hearing more from you and you 'moma'. steve

Billie Jo said...

nice summation of Iowa in August ~ Kali is here from Oregon for the month, and we've been noticing the same things.

Good imagery - BAGPIPES! The little buggers are soooooo noisy. And they will return, or at least their prodigy.

Charles' comment about the firefly (although we call them lightning bugs) and the falling star is so d*e*e*p . . .

thanks much,
billie jo

ps. here's to your mom's healing! may the mend be strong.

Steve Kennedy said...

There is magic in late-summer Iowa. You get be part of it every year. Thanks for the good wishes!

Billie Jo said...

Yep ~ and soon we'll have a guest house (our cabin) available for weary travelers who want to hang out and experience the magic - you & your lovely wife included! You're always welcome here.

Steve Kennedy said...

We'll definitely keep the heavenly cabin in mind, Billie Jo. thanks!