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Summer Sounds: Heartbeat On A Quiet Night

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

For many of us, certain sounds conjure vivid memories of days gone by. And we've got one of those for you today. It's the latest in our series about the sounds of summer.

(Soundbite music)

Mr. CLIFFORD GREEN (Screenwriter): This is Clifford Green. I'm a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, California. My parents used to rent a summerhouse that was part of a Catskill-style resort called Tamiment in the Poconos. Tamiment was built on the shores of the most beautiful mountain lake.

One day, a parent-chaperoned camp-out was planned for the woods on the far side of the lake, but I decided to pass. But around 10 that night, I changed my mind. I snuck out of the house, took half of a broken Styrofoam sailboat and a splintered oar and proceeded to paddle on my stomach across the lake. I was probably 12 years old and the night was almost pitch black.

Ten minutes out on this two-hour journey, I began to hear something following me.

(Soundbite of heartbeat)

GREEN: It was something terrifying, something relentless, something alive - the beating of my own heart. How could I have never heard the beating of my own heart before? It was because, for the first time I could think of, I was completely divorced from the suburban world of noise.

For the first time in my life, my powers of perception were given an unobstructed horizon. I could only hear me.

(Soundbite of heartbeat)

And no matter how I tried, I couldn't silence me. And today, whenever I hear a beating heart, I think back to that summer night on a moonless Pennsylvania lake. And it's no surprise to me why, as both a writer and as a man, my struggle remains quieting me, so I can hear that lake that surrounds me.

SIEGEL: A summer sound from Clifford Green. If something you hear this time of year stirs a vivid memory, share it at npr.org. And please be sure to put Summer Sounds in the subject line. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.