Thursday, September 2, 2010

Summer's Ebb

You can't remember the last time you wore socks.

The days have imperceptibly become a little shorter, you find yourself surprised to see that it's only 7 or 8 o'clock when the sun is descending and the shadows are long. Some evenings you even consider pulling out a light sweatshirt because the air is cooling down more quickly each night. Even though in your mind it was just June, you realize that summer is waning all too fast.

The bright pink and lavender annuals you planted last spring start to look dated, like a jacket that was so of-the-moment 5 seasons ago. You start to eye the subtler golden tones of the plantings that are being delivered to the garden center this week. And although it is much too soon to think of pumpkins and mums, you do consider that perhaps you will be ready for them in a month or so.

You may be years out of school. You may not have school age children. But as August transitions into September, you still feel like a page is turning. Like it's time for a new beginning, a fresh start. The well-stocked aisles at the office supply stores lure you with their pristine notebooks and all manner of boxes, files, and cases to organize all your clutter. Yes, you vow, this is the fall that I will finally get organized.

The bounty of your (or your neighbor's) garden produces copious amounts of tomatoes, zucchini, and basil. You have eaten many Caprese salads. Not yet ready for fall foods, you savor every last peach and plum, blueberry and nectarine. You almost grow tired of fresh corn.

You head to the shore for one last vacation day. At the local surf shop, the flip-flops and bathing suits are crammed together on a rack in the back of the store, now 40% off. Long sleeve shirts and pants in fall colors are featured prominently. The boogie boards and beach umbrellas are piled up haphazardly in a corner. The bicycles, so shiny in May, are on sale now, their handlebars dulled by months of exposure to the salt air.

On the beach, it starts to feel like work, carrying your chair, blanket, book to the sand. The feeling you once had - the anticipation of a glorious summer about to unfold deliciously before you - is gone. You're weary of finding sand everywhere. So you brush off your things, shower off the sunscreen, fold up the beach towels and prepare to come home to your real life.

You have absorbed as much of the summer as you can. There is nothing to do now but wait for the cooler weather and the leaves to change color. In the meantime you try to spend as much time as you can outdoors, use your grill two or three times a week, keep that slower-paced, August mood at hand as long as possible. Some time in early February you'll need to reach back in your memory and recall these late summer days. With any luck, you will be able to close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.


  1. Beautiful & evocative! (Although I have still been wearing socks on a regular basis - the English summer not being particularly benign this year!

    It never ceases to please me how a year is exactly the right length, the seasons changing when you have just about forgotten how the next one feels. (Sorry - clumsily worded but I know what I mean!)

  2. So lovely to read and so so true. You described so many feelings that we all experience but your writing said it so much better, almost like a short story.
    Yes socks have been worn here too and a fire in the chilly evenings, as I too grasp on to every day of sunshine like it is my last.

    I could especially relate to the new school year, the butterflies still flutter in my tummy at this time from memories of teaching. Yet it does bring the sense of a new year and new plans, just as the seeds of Autumn will eventually bring new growth.

  3. I so admire your ability to take a multitude of what many might think of as unremarkable details and deftly weave them into a resonant evocation of time and place. Beautiful piece.

  4. Your lovely piece refreshed my memories of a place where four distinct seasons can be experienced. That is what I miss most, here in Florida. That, and mountains.

  5. Dear Raining Acorn,
    that is such a poetical description of the days between summer and fall - thank you!
    You can smell it in the air, and feel a slight crispness. The long shadows that fall on the meadow always remind me to read "The Forsythe Saga" or Henry James again - don't know why these two are connected in my soul.
    The feeling of starting afresh hooks me too - I am an utterly fan of stationary stores - and the art of writing letters, and sketch books, and diaries - and I buy. And organize. Give me little goldstars when I have accomplished a task. Love to feel in control - at least for a while... :-)

  6. Terrific. We are so fortunate to have seasons. Just when we begin to take the sun and the sand for granted, out come the socks and the notebooks.

  7. You could have been describing the end of an English summer, except we so very rarely have one.

    I love autumn but dread the dark and dismal days of winter.


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