Summer Nights in Rural Mississippi
by: Carmen H. Wilkinson
Summer in Mississippi is hot! The days are long and the air is thick. There are times when it doesn’t rain for days or weeks and then there are times it feels like floods are falling from heaven. But what are Mississippi nights like?
At night time in Mississippi there is something magical that takes place. The sun is resting and then the night falls over the sky like a warm blanket. The humidity is usually still ever present unless the day was graced with a rainfall and then it is even more humid. But what is this magic I speak of? Well there are little specks of light you can see twinkling like tiny stars. These little specks of light move from the ground all the way up high into the sky. These little specks of light are known as ‘fireflys’ and ‘lightening bugs’. It appears as if the stars have come down and touched the ground. An ever anxious child is glad to scoop them in a net and put them in a jar. That child makes a make shift lantern that really doesn’t give off alot of light but the child has fun collecting the tiny little bugs none the less.
There are creepy crawly things that come out into the night as well. You can hear some stuff moving around in the dark. If it makes a wooom wooom wooom sound chances are it is an armadillo. If it makes a hissing sound it just may be an opossum. If it is an armadillo it will run away but if it is an opossum and you scare it, well it is just liable to play dead. One summer we had one fall off into our swimming pool. I scooped him out with a net. Then he laid on the concrete and pretended he was dead. I stood there with a flash light watching. Eventually he peeked an eye open and after a while when he thought I was gone he took off for the woods.
The sounds in the night are like none other. You can begin to hear whippoorwills sing way into the evening. They sound so beautiful. They sing their songs and call out. You can continue to hear them into the night. You also can hear the sounds of crickets and frogs. Sometimes when I was younger I had a hard time distinguishing the two. They have one thing in common though. If they get startled by the sound of a human they will silence. Then they will begin to sing their majestic melodies once more.
Later into the night you can hear owls. They make their ‘who who who’ sounds. I was once told by an elderly colored gentleman that his grandmother would sit up at night and listen for the sound of the owls. He said whichever direction the owl sang from that it meant illness had befallen upon someone from that way. He said sure enough, each time his grandmother would go and visit the neighbor from the direction of the owls song and there would be illness or death. That is just a wise tale but interesting no doubt.
If it happens to be a stormy summer night in Mississippi, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the lightening as it streaks across the sky. I have heard lightening never strikes the same place twice; however, There was a tree in a pecan orchard that was struck on more than one occasion. Eventually that tree died. Everything will be pitch dark and then the lightening streaks out causing bright flashes of beauty. As a small child my aunt use to sit up late on rainy nights and watch the lightening out of her bedroom window. I too grew to appreciate it’s beauty.
At night in Mississippi we also have bats. Bats of course fly at night. They are blind but they move towards movement in order to catch flying creatures they eat. If you throw rocks up into the sky, normally near an outside light you can see the bats swoop in to chase after the rock. That is another form of entertainment I remember from being a child.
Then, depending on where you live I suppose there is the distinct cries of the coyotes. That is a very scary sound. You can hear them in large packs. It can sound like they are right in your back yard and can give you the eerie feeling you are being watched. None the less in its own unique way, even the sounds of coyotes can be beautiful.
Then there is of course the night sky. There is nothing more beautiful than looking up at a dark sky lit up with stars. Well, maybe nothing more beautiful except a full moon night. On a full moon the trees make a silhouette of pure beauty. The sky seems bright and it looks like you can just reach up and touch the moon. If you are riding through back country roads it is an absolute beautiful sight to behold. It is also a good time to go camping on a creek bank.
The creeks sound more loud flowing in the darkness, I suppose it is because the rest of the world is sleeping. You take the sound of a flowing creek, the music of the crickets and whippoorwills. The occasional breeze that breaks through the humidity and you have a delightful Mississippi summer night.
If you ever have the opportunity to spend a few summer nights in Mississippi, it is a lot more enjoyable spent with family and friends. Don’t forget your mosquito spray though. That is one horrible little creature that loves to feed on anything with blood. Snakes also crawl at night so you have to keep an eye out on those. They make hiding places and sometimes they get bold and just don’t seem to care where they travel. A rattle snake will most of the times give off a warning and well, the copper heads mainly stay near the water. Other than the little fear of the coyotes or snakes and the ouch of a mosquito bite, summer nights in Mississippi are amazingly beautiful. They are worth taking the time to enjoy. Have a glass of sweet tea or a good cup of coffee. Sit out on a porch swing and enjoy the slow paced life of living in God’s country.