Memories of Summers past

There are two distinctive sounds from summers past – summers of my childhood – that will always retain that element of wonder and beauty that endeared them to me as a young and carefree child. Sounds that will always bring back the nostalgic memories, smells and emotions of those summers so many years ago.

One sound unfortunately I do not hear anymore. Or maybe it just isnt there. The other however is impossible to miss.

The sounds I refer to are that of the cicadas singing in the summer’s heat and that of fireworks bursting in the sky.

Cicadas.. I either don’t hear them anymore – quite possible due to my bad hearing – or maybe there just aren’t any cicadas in our garden anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t there anymore considering the increase in the number of houses that have sprouted in Iklin over the years. We have probably scared them off and destroyed their habitat. I do remember though hearing their constant undulating buzz, their love song, during the hottest days of summer. A sound that would merge into the background – sort of providing a backdrop to the lethargy that the heat would bring on. Almost forgotten while it was there but clearly and deeply missed when it was gone.

In those young and carefree days the sound of the cicadas oni a hot summer’s day was something of a mystery to me. I could not see them but I could clearly hear them. It was as if summer itself was calling out to us. Its a surprise to me now that I could hear them at all and I am glad that I did and that I still remember the sound (though only vaguely) as due to Malta becoming more and more built up they are a very rare occurance.

A big pity that.
You can read more about cicadas here: Wikipedia – Cicada

August was always the month of fireworks for me… being in Iklin and upper valley we have almost a perfect stage view of the Iklin Fireworks display which happens every 5th August. In the past, during the summers of yesteryear and of my childhood, the fireworks display of Iklin – the fireworks factory is actually called St Michael’s Fireworks Factory, a better name couldn’t have been thought of – was always one of the peak events that I would look forward to throughout the year. The build up to the show would start a week before with what I call the day-time fireworks starting off every morning at around 8.30am. That never bothered me, rather it was something I enjoyed… waking up to the sound of fireworks meant that 5th August is very close.

The day itself would be dominated by the smell of the Tomato Dish Mum would be preparing for the evening party. Tomato dish was the staple menu for that evening and one of the many reasons I used to love and look forward to it.

Tomato Dish… agh.. one can wax lyrical about this dish but still never really do it justice. it is quite a basic dish, tomatoes sliced in half and layered in a deep pan with loads of garlic, basil and/or mint (depending on your personal taste), salt and pepper, olive oi and vinegar. It is then stewed for about an hour over a low fire and can be served hot or cold. But, and this is an important part of the whole experience that toato dish is, manners must be left at home and one must be ready to consume loads of fresh maltese bread – preferrably in thick slices that would absorb the jiuces.

These parties are no longer organised yet every year we all look forward to the Lija Fireworks display with childhood glee. And today is that day and the anticipation is yet again building up – with daytime fireworks this morning heralding the start of our day. And I still play the game we used to play when I was a young 7yr old looking up at the sky with wide and eager eyes. That is the game of trying to see a shape and its permutations in the smike cloud left after the firework bursts. You know, them smoke clouds can be quite tricky especially on a windy day… evolving, metamorphising from one shape – a horse rearing – to another – a man’s face frozen into a scream – in a matter of seconds until the next firework blasts the sky with light.

There is a sad side to the beauty of fireworks and that is the accidents that happen from time to time which can result in fatilities. The fireworks are made by enthusiasts who gather together in little stone rooms and mix the various compounds to produce the desired effects. However, these compounds can be highly unstable and in the heat and a slight mistake can easily cause an explosion and a tragic accident.


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