Free concert of sights and sounds

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, June 26, 2019

It was only for a few hours, but it actually felt good to let my mind drift back in time last week.

It was Thursday, June 20 when a wicked thunderstorm packing high winds and frequent lightning rolled through the R-C area. I was at the office when the storm blew in. We lost electrical power almost immediately, but my hand held, battery operated police scanner was buzzing with activity as calls streamed in for downed trees and power lines in Northampton, Hertford, and Bertie counties. Kudos to all our local emergency responders to handling those calls.

Realizing there’s not a lot I could work on without a computer, I made my way home….already armed with the knowledge (thanks to my wife) that we had no power there as well.

Following dinner (take-out from an Ahoskie eatery), Deborah and I spent some time on our back porch until shortly before sunset. She went inside, but I remained on the porch, basically because it was cooler there.

My next-door neighbor (my nephew) came over for a visit. He was following the NBA Draft online and kept me posted on the results. Shortly after 9 pm he made his way home.

That left me all alone on the porch, where my mind drifted back to a day and age where there were no electronic gadgets, other than a black-and-white TV that only received three channels. Heck, back then we didn’t even have an air conditioning unit. We kept cool at night by raising the windows and letting a whole house fan supply a gentle breeze.

Perhaps what I enjoyed the most during my brief period of solitude were the sights and sounds of a southern night.

Visually, the total darkness (without the presence of dusk-to-dawn lights in my yard and my nephew’s yard) provided me with an unfettered view of what appeared to be hundreds of lightning bugs. Their small flashes of light made it appear I was attending major concert (without the music, of course) and camera bulbs were constantly firing to capture photographs.

However, there was a concert that night, one courtesy of the traditional summertime sounds of the south.

Typically, after a rainstorm, a huge chorus of frogs – all in full throat – will sing their tunes. A small army of crickets joined in, as did a few katydids singing from the trees. Off in the distance was the sound of a hoot owl.

My mind drifted to my childhood days in this same backyard….and then fast forwarded to six years ago when Deborah and I decided to purchase my homeplace. So many warm memories remain in that house, to include the beautiful restoration work performed by my “baby” brother, Tommy. That man is as talented as they come when it comes to handiwork of any type.

I thought about my now late sister, Cindy, who lived out her final days in that house before losing her courageous battle vs. cancer in 2012. She had such grand plans for that house….ones that never materialized due to her health. In a way, what it looks like today is my tribute to her.

Before I knew it, the clock had inched past 10 pm….which is bedtime for old folks. I reluctantly made my way inside and got ready for bed.

Roughly an hour later, the fine folks at Roanoke Electric Cooperative had made repairs to the electrical grid and our power was restored….but not before enjoying a free concert of sights and sounds on my back porch and a brief trip back in time.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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