It always seems that just as we settle in to summer, it begins its drawing to a close. There is no pause between the starting and the ending, and no clear moment where you think, "Ah, here it is...it's begun". I've been blessed to have my summers "off" since I started working as a teacher, and appreciate that as the gift it is. But somehow, this summer has been elusive.
I spend each late winter surveying the monotonous landscape with hungry eyes, thirsting for green and craving the warm touch of the sun on my bare shoulders. I dream of long days of fun with my children once they're released from school, of eating fresh tomatoes and corn on the cob, of sinking my bare toes into the soft grass, of splashing and playing on the beach.
But this summer was a strange one.
Spells of heat and humidity that wrung me out so that by the end of the day I was fractious and difficult. September-like cool stretches, where we all donned warm pajamas at night. There were many days when I hesitated to hang anything on the clothesline for fear that the gathering clouds would conspire to pour their rain on my laundry, and used the dryer too often...waiting for real summer to begin. Plans to get to the local farmers' market fell through, and I found myself purchasing produce from the USA at the grocery store instead of enjoying our fleeting local bounty. I felt drained just contemplating the planning and packing it would take to get to the beach, so we just didn't go that often.
Now the time has come to begin washing those hand-me-downs that I've set aside for "new" back-to-school clothes, to pick up the fallen apples and make sauce and jelly. The golden rod is in its glory, and the song of the crickets has shifted into its autumn cadence. The frogs are silent now, and I feel a pang that this is it. I don't feel I made the most of the summer.
The reasons are numerous: my course in July, the unpredictable weather, working around the baby's naps, my reluctance to spend time in the sun and sand with a pale-skinned, just-crawling little one who puts everything in her mouth. I look back on how often I had to intervene in fights between my children, how often they resorted to smacking each other, and how often I raised my voice in frustration, and can see, in hindsight, that they too might have felt frustrated at the way this summer felt different.
Not that we didn't have fun! Our neighbours hosted us often, sharing their beautiful deck, pool, and company. We spent a week at a lakeside cottage, and visited with friends and family. We attended a local library program. We painted lots of peg dolls. I just feel that bit of regret at something coming to a close, simultaneously looking ahead to the quiet days that are imminent when I send three children off to school on the bus.
So it is with some reluctance that I prepare to say goodbye to summer, sensing that I didn't quite squeeze all the juice out of it. By the calendar, I still have three weeks till it's officially over. I'll plan a few more trips to the beach, a few more picnics, and bare my legs to the sun a few more times before we settle in to the rhythms and joys of autumn.
Time to put some more clothes on the line...looks like a beautiful day ahead.