An anecdotal birthday present


My father’s birthday was this week. I missed it, because I’m at college. If I were home, I would have given him a hug. I’m not a daddy’s girl, but I do miss those sometimes. But since I am here, I am going to write instead.

I never considered my parents to have much to do with my reading, particularly my taste in books. Looking back now, obviously I see a lot more of it, but it is true that for the most part, I chose a lot of the things I read. However, in the last year or two, I have realized that my dad affected my taste in reading quite a bit. As a kid, one of the only things I knew how to talk about was books. So I was constantly talking about what I was reading, and then regularly pestering my parents for any suggestions of books to read. On one such occasion, my dad suggested Lloyd Alexander’s books. I took his suggestion, and as my title evidences, they became favorites of mine. I have read everything of Alexander’s that I can get my hands on (well over half his writings) and loved every moment. Somewhere in the train of my adolescent history, I forgot that my dad lit that spark. When I remembered, it became something precious, a point of connection that we seldom make, and certainly never vocalize.

My father also started me on sci-fi. He suggested Fahrenheit 451 and Isaac Asimov. I read and loved both. From there, I continued to read science fiction. He also suggested Brave New World, which I still remember and will still read at some point.

If you asked me today what my favorite genre was, my answer would likely be either fantasy, or fantasy/sci-fi, since sometimes they blend together inseparably in my mind. In either case, I have to acknowledge that my father probably started me on the path to loving both genres. That is something for which I am unspeakably grateful – small moments that have shaped me in innumerable ways.

Chances are, he doesn’t even realize the impact his book suggestions had on me. He may not even remember suggesting them. But I do. For that, I thank him very much.

Sound of Summer in the South


In the south, you can hear and see the heat. Every summer, the ceaseless background noise is the humming of cicadas. As a kid, I actually did think the noise was the sound of heat. There are lots of cicadas where I live, and they have this undulating buzz….a constant up and down, like the way heat looks over pavement. The heat is all-encompassing – hits you like a wet wall when you walk outside, you can see and hear it in waves. I love it – it is invigorating to soak up the sun. It can also be exhausting….it’s impossible to keep from getting sweaty…that can happen in the time it takes to walk from the door to my car.

The cicadas have been a staple of my childhood. They leave these awesome shells, completely intact, around the trees. My sister and I had fun finding and collecting them. The actual cicadas though, we don’t see very often. They stay up in the trees. I did see one though….on a trip to camp. 😀 I was in a cabin with 7 other girls, sharing two showers. When I shook out my towel one morning, a cicada fell out. They look pretty scary, especially to a junior high girl….this big black bug. I knew what it was though, so it didn’t bother me. But I did purposely leave it in the shower when I got out. The following scream was quite satisfying. 😀 In the end, I was the one who took it outside, because I was the only one that knew it was harmless. My final comment about cicadas is that they may be ugly, but they have really pretty iridescent wings. Note: there are many species of cicada all over the world, so everything I’ve mentioned is simply my experience with the cicadas in my area. If you’re curious, I suggest you check out the Wikipedia article I linked earlier. There are great pictures, recordings, even a video of a molting cicada.

This is just one aspect of Southern summer that I love. People complain about the heat here…constantly wish it would be cooler. But I love it. I soak up the heat….wouldn’t trade it for anything. I could never survive up north. I’m a southern girl raised on the summer song of the cicada.

What’s your favorite thing about summer in your area?