Published May 28, 2021 by Rick Cundiff
So it’s a hot, pre-summer day here in the Land O’Patches. Temperature’s in the 90s and the general attitude as we roll into the great Summer of 2021 is one of anticipation.
I’ve always loved summer. It’s easily my favorite season. Long, sunny days that melt into warm nights seem to hold such promise. There’s just a feeling in the still air that anything could happen.
I’ve always been a night owl, happy after midnight. I’ve had a few night shift jobs, and they were perfect for me. With the rest of the world asleep, it seemed those of us working in the dark were part of a secret society. We were getting away with something and at the same time bearing witness to whatever might occur.
One summer I was working the overnight at a state park campground. It was a great gig, just keeping an eye on things, manning the attendant shack. And all around were the sounds of the night in the southern woods.
The noises were fascinating, actually. When the shift started, the birds would still sing a bit. Frogs croaked. The grounds hummed a little with quiet conversations around campfires.
The further into the shift it got, the quieter things became. By 3 a.m., things were pretty much dead silent. Even the bugs weren’t doing much. The occasional skunk wandered past, looking for a snack, but that was it. They kept to their place and I kept to mine and we got along fine.
It was a great time to contemplate the state of the world, and my place in it. Armchair philosophy is an ideal hobby at that hour. Not sure I ever figured out my place in the world then, but it was fun to try.
By about 4:30, things were getting a little louder again. It started with the bugs. They were becoming more active, swirling more under the light outside the shack. Then came the birds, slowly, softly, but gradually growing louder. The bugs buzzed, the birds sang, and oh yeah, the mosquitos got aggressive too. By 6 a.m., it was pretty much nature’s version of a music festival, only to settle down a bit as the sun came up.
Then came the campers, bleary-eyed and in need of coffee. By the time they were up and going, my shift was over. Perfect.
Those days are gone, and today’s shift is more 8 to 5 than 11 to 7. But the memories live on.
How about you? Any night owls out there? Want to declare it on a patch for your jacket or vest? C’mon, tell the world about the wonders of the secret world after dark.
Hey, it’s a thought. We’re here if you want to order those patches. Especially if you’re reading this after midnight….