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打开窗户倾听(Open Window and Listen)

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打开窗户倾听(Open Window and Listen)

  “no air conditioning?how can you sleep?”a friend asks, horrified.i've just revealed that my family has decided to shut the air conditioner off and trim our electric bill.

  “nobody opens a window,day or night,”warns another friend, whose windows have been painted shut for a decade.“this is the '90s.it's not safe.”

  on this first night of our cost-cutting adventure,it's on1y 85 degrees.we're not going to suffer, but the three kids gumble anyway. they've grown up in 72-degree comfort,insulated from the world outside.

  “how do you open these windows?” my husband asks.jiggling the metal tabs, he finally releases one. a potpourri of bug decorates the sill. as we spring the windows one by one, the night noises howl outside and in.“it's too hot to sleep,”my 13-year-old daughter moans.

  “i'm about to die from this heat,”her brother hollers down the hal1.“just try it tonigt,”i tell them.

  in truth i'm too tired to argue for long.i'm exhausted after attending grandma's estate auction.i toted home her oval tin bathtub and the chair i once stood on like a big shot behind the counter of her store,sacking tootsie rolls and rolling pennies.

  my face is sweaty, but i lie quietly listening to the cricket choirs outside theat remind me of childhood,the neighbor's dog howls.probably a trespassing squirre1.it's been years since i've taken the time to really listen to the night.

  i think about grandma,who lived to 92 and still supervised mom's gardening until just a few weeks before she died.

  and then,i'm back there at the house in the summer heat of my childhood.

  i move my pi11ow to the foot of grandma's bed and angle my face toward the open window.i flip the pillow, hunting for the cooler side.

  grandma sees me thrashing.“if you'11 just watch for the breeze,”she says,“you'11 cool off and fall asleep.”

  she cranks up the venetian blinds.i stare at the filmy white curtain, willing it to flutter.

  lying stil1, waiting, i suddenly notice the life outside the window. the bug chorus shouts“ajooga!ajooga!”neighbors, porch-sitting late, speak in hazy words with sanded edges that soothe me.

  “keep watching for the breeze,”grandma says softly,and i“uhliuh”in reply. june bugs ping the screen. three blocks away the frisco train

  rumbles across roosevelt avenue.

  i catch the scent of fresh grass clippings. then i hear something i can't decode--perhaps a tree branch raking asphalt shingles on the store roof

  next door.

  sleepy-eye now,i focus on the curtain.it flutters …

  “mom,did y0u hear that?”my seven-year-o1d bluts.“i think it was an owl family.”

  “probably” i tell him.“just keep listening…”

  without the droning air condition,the house is oddly peaceful,and the unfilter night noises seem close enough to touch.

  i hope i'm awake tonight when the first breeze sneaks in.

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