Summer Sounds At The Solstice

Tuesday is the first day of summer, so we review all the listener submissions to our series, "Summer Sounds" and present a number of writers, who highlight things they hear this time of year that have a deep, rich meaning for them.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Summer starts today in the northern part of the world. And in recent weeks we've been hearing from listeners about sounds that herald the start of the summer for them.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Of all the seasons, summer is the one that seems to come with its own special soundtrack - music, nature, recreation, relaxation and, of course, memories.

Dawn Price of Cynthiana, Kentucky, tells us her summer sound is bullfrogs. She used to hear them while sitting on the porch with her mother.

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Ms. DAWN PRICE: Anytime the weather would permit it, and sometimes without the weather's permission, she and I would go to the front porch together at the end of the day.

In the summertime, we would settle strategically into the dilapidated lawn chairs and talk or sometimes just sit while the sky said its farewell to the sun. In the field to the right, there was a pond, home to the amphibian philharmonic.

I remember many, many nights listening to them with our laughing because we had memorized the symphony and all its movements. The song begins with a solo. It's not always the same voice, but it's always the same tune, and it always made mother smile.

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SIEGEL: And while Dawn Price was listening during her summers to bullfrogs, Beverly Jackson was listening to hogs on a farm in western Illinois.

NORRIS: She wrote this: The hogs wallowed in their beloved mud, of course, but what they really loved to do was insert their hefty snouts into the metal flap of the hog feeders, chow down and move on, letting the metal flap slap down and make a huge racket.

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SIEGEL: We got a number of summer sounds related to farms, including one from our own Melissa Gray, a producer on this program. She's from Virginia and she's also one heck of a cook. So it's no surprise that her seminal sound of summer has to do with putting food on the table.

MELISSA GRAY: Every summer when I was a pre-teen, my chore was to pick the string beans. And I'm talking about thousands of string beans that my father sort of overplanted every year, because you never know when starving time is coming.

And woe be unto me if I didn't get my butt out their early when it was cooler, because otherwise he'd come home at lunch and he'd bark at me, did you get those string beans picked?

Now, I wish I could say I learned valuable lessons listening to those beans hitting the bucket all summer long. The only lesson I learned is I preferred my beans on sale at the grocery store.

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NORRIS: Listener Rachel Bucci of Salem, Oregon, also grew up in a rural area. Her summer sound is a bit of a drag, but in the best sense of the word. Her father took her and her sister to the local strip where the drag racers would compete.

SIEGEL: And here's what she wrote: Before the race started, they would burn out, peeling forward as smoke billowed from their oversized rear tires. When the starting lights flashed green, the dragsters skidded and skipped down the track in a riot of noise.

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NORRIS: So, today as we mark the solstice, let's remind you that Summer Sounds will be open for business until Labor Day. We invite you to contribute, whether it's the irritating sound of an insect or the pleasing splash of a swimmer diving into a pool, click Contact Us at npr.org and please remember to put the words Summer Sounds in the subject line.

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