Summer is Gone

I like fall, I really do. I love the bright colors of orange and red against a bright, cornflower blue sky, and the crisp, shivery wind that runs through the heated sunlight and summery grasses. But I don't like what fall is up to. Not at all. It--in a very sneaky way--is getting me ready for a long, dreary, gray, cold, yucky winter. Like a mother slipping peas into her child's meatloaf, fall is slipping in the blanket of depressing days that make me itch inside relentlessly all the way into spring.

The only thing I like about winter is Christmas and when that is over, so am I. Checkmate. I have my eyes closed, thinking ahead, forging past all the icky stuff until I see that first crocus pushing its way through the hard, half-frozen earth.

Summer is such a seductive, beautiful time. The grasses in the fields are swaying gently, calling all of us--the kids, the dogs, and myself to come out and walk and dream. We're hot, breathless, running, laughing under the sunlight. Bare feat are stomping over ant domes, through the butterfly flight patterns, through the lacy web of gilded wild flowers. Then we rush inside and gulp down as much water as our stomachs can hold without looking like drunken sailors, then we rush back outside and jump in the swings. Up past the ground, then back down--the wind combing out hair out and in, tickling our cheeks and creating rushing thrills through our middles.

Summer nights linger and whisper promises. "I will never leave. This is how it will always be." And the fireflies confirm it with a confident show of beautiful, glittery dance. The locusts buzz loud then soft, louder then softer. The train goes by--roaring--and a dog barks three blocks away, and all the stars watch us playing outside; laughing together, looking up in response.

And then . . . the patterns begins to weaken until one little leaf falls off a branch from the apple tree. Then another. The bean plants turn dry and start to bend back toward the first spot of their birth in the dry, spent earth. There's no more haze of sunlight glossing up the tops of the tall oak tree after dinnertime, and the ice cream truck stops making its call for evening sales.

Then, the cricket who usually sits out next to the weeded shadows of the kitchen door begins to slowly dim its song, night after night until at last, he has given up and faded into death.

I sigh.


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