Last night on the back deck1 was cool and breezy. Wind blew wisps of hair from behind my ears, and it brought the briny scent of salt marsh and air blown across the Atlantic ocean. This morning when I stepped out of my parents’ front door — the front door of my childhood home — the world was still and muggy.
On the empty street, surrounded by palmettos and palm trees, Lantana and azaleas, I started to put my ear buds in. I hate running, and the only way I can get through it is by listening to music.
But just as I began to muffle the sounds of the outside world as I slid the second white ear bud in, a cicada started up, then a hundred more joined in until my ears rattled with the buzz of cicadas in the still morning air. Island and marsh birds joined in with their morning calls. I pulled the ear buds out and stuck them in my sports bra.
Up by the bridge, a white-haired man in madras shorts and a plaid shirt walked along the edge of the black pavement, a lit cigarette dangling from his fingers. He moved with the agility of youth, but his face looked like he was 1000 years old, deeply wrinkled from a lifetime of wind in his eyes and of sun and smoke on his skin. He rasped out, “Good morning,” and I good-morning’ed him back. I don’t usually hear when people say good morning because of headphones; it was quite nice.
Near the highway, afer a mile of running on a narrow snake of land surrounded by Spartina grass, sea ox-eye daisies, marsh mud, and puddles of salt-water left behind at low tide, I saw a brassy-haired woman walking up ahead of me. Her hair was loose and yellow-orange. I remembered that color from a childhood on the coast, women and men both trying to lighten their hair. Lemon juice, peroxide, cheap home dye jobs. Natural blonde is not an easy color to recreate, and the southeast coast is filled with brassy blonde instead.
On my way home, I heard the scuttle of hundreds of toothpick-tip legs tapping green fronds: fiddler crabs scurried for cover on the dense palmettos when they heard my clomping approach. Listening to music, I’d never heard the scampering of fiddler crabs despite dozens of runs along this stretch of road.
Now I’m back on Mom and Dad’s deck, this time in the screened portion. I’m covered in salty sweat and mosquito bites, and the air is still not moving. The piling driver on the river, here to repair docks blown apart in Hurricane Matthew, has started its metallic ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk of pounding pilings deep into marsh mud. The sound echos across the water. It might be time now to put the ear buds in.
1. I had to consult my “Balconies, porches, and patios – a primer on the language of outdoor seating” post to know if I was using the correct word for where we sat last night — porch? deck? balcony? It could also be a balcony, but we never say balcony at home, so I opted for deck.
This is my entry for the Daily Post one-word prompt: brassy.