permeable nights

i’ve been known in the dead of winter, to get up out of bed, unsnap the old lock, and shove with all of my might. some nights, i can’t breathe without my house breathing, too.

i don’t mind when the bristles of snow blow in. don’t mind the wisp of the wintry wind. i shiver, and pull my sheets extra tight. but the mix in the air, once the windows are cracked, is, at last, like a dough worth sinking your fist in, worth the trouble of filling my lungs.

i get by on the wisps and the bristles all winter. come spring, the sills shudder some nights. others, they let out a sigh, when the warm currents finally come out from the coves where they hide.

but summer. oh, summer is the season of high permeability. the outside comes in, in great gulping doses. and the inside comes rushing alive, there in the dark, with but a moon, or a flickering street lamp, draping my bedclothes in filigree shadows.

not a night goes by, i don’t crack open those tall panes of glass, and the chance to take in a breath the way breathing was surely intended.

long as there’s no forecast of rain, nor a rumble off in the distance, why, i swing ‘em wide as i can.

then, i lie there and take it all in.

windows in summer make it worth going to bed.

takes me back, if i let it, to the nights of my childhood. back when, there in my tight little bed, i knew the rustle of oak, from the stirring of cottonwood. back when the swiss lace at my windows blew rough against one of my toes, or my cheeks if i put my face to the screen, to inhale the smell of the rain, or to take in the typewriting clack of my papa.

now, in the house where i am the mama, it is the great exhale at the end of the day, the bath without cranking the faucet. just pure air, rushing in, rushing over, soothing and cleansing and settling. the night’s lullabye played out in pure, breathable air.

there’s the tickle of wind off the lake, cooled and sodden some nights. a veritable fog rolling into the bedchamber. other nights, the air barely moves. sticks to your skin. makes it chancy, this keeping the windows ajar. and the unanimous vote is slipping away. you and the air are facing a standstill, one to one, comes the ballot from the far side of the bed, and suddenly, you and the windows are losing.

ah, but there’s the nightsound. the 10:04 train whistling by. the horns and the siren, reminding that all is not still. and down below, out at the curb, the last of the voices trailing from laughter to whisper to well past the corner.

some nights, there are cat fights. and not only once, the spine-chilling warble of a nest of innocents being attacked. primal and raw, and not drowned out by the drone of the daytime.

it all comes in the night. uncensored. unfiltered. the world as it is.

the deeper we get into june the more blinking i see out the screens. the fireflies are powering up, sending signals, making lovenotes, right out my window.

i long for the nightsong of a house with a sizable rippled body of water. no pond nearby, so that means no peepers. and no bullfrogs either, adding their basso profundo, to what stirs in the chorus outside.

i could lie there all night, feeling the dance of the sheet on my toes, hearing the last of the bugs rubbing their wings, and the jostling of leaves settling to sleep.

and best of all, the slow pit-a-pat of a rain trickling down, maybe pounding. a crackle and flash in the night.

then, only then, do i bother to pull in the windows, draw down the sashes.

i try not to fall into sleep, not till the rain goes away. i can’t wait to get back to the windows, to make the most of that sweet summer’s promise: the permeable nights that ooze life into darkness, the balm of the nighttide washing in through the hours of fluttering quiet.

do you believe in throwing windows wide open? if you’re a city sleeper, what’s the nightshow at your house? if you’re out in the country, what flows by your sills? are there limits to your open-window policy? heat? humidity? thunder and lighting? or do you welcome it all?