Sometimes you can convince yourself that it isn’t bad — summer ending, the rest of the year beginning.
But it is bad.
I like cool, crisp nights as much as anyone, that hint of a fall smell that’s in the shadows right now, and the way the late afternoon light makes the world look suddenly prettier. I like seeing all the little kids with their new haircuts and scrubbed faces, their backpacks as clean as they are, walking to school and waiting at bus stops. I love what September is for them: a beginning, another notch on their growth chart, new grade, new teachers, new chance.
I also like that Halloween is within shouting distance, because I love Halloween. And the color orange. And the way even the air will seem tinged with orange in a few weeks. So it’s all good, right? Summer ending, the rest of the year beginning?
Except, it doesn’t feel good. It feels too soon this year. It’s as if some fledgling clockmaker’s timepiece struck midnight by mistake and summer, like Cinderella, has had to flee because that’s the way the story goes, never mind that the clock is wrong and the ball is not over and none of the guests wants to leave.
I sure don’t want to leave. I am not eager to see summer shut down. I want to hang around in cotton and sandals and big sunglasses for days and weeks more, the calendar not forgotten, but not sacrosanct, either.
I want to continue for days and weeks more to wake up every morning to the sounds of birds chirping and cawing and look out at the sky and be bedazzled by the whiteness of the clouds because the clouds have been dazzling me all summer long and I’m not even close to being tired of them yet. I’m not tired of anything summer — the clouds or the heat or the flowers in the gardens of all the houses I pass, or the greens of all of the lawns or the lushness of everything I’ve watched sprout and grow and bloom.
‘I want to continue for days and weeks more to wake up every morning to the sounds of birds chirping and cawing and look out at the sky and be bedazzled by the clouds.’
I’m not tired of lobster or fried clams or cold beer or blueberries or ice cream or sweeping sand out of my car, or slapping mosquitoes or watching kids ride the carousel at Nantasket Beach.
And I am definitely not tired of the beach.
But come September, the calendar flips and, like it or not, everything changes. What we wear. What we eat. What we do. How we think.
I won’t be driving to the Dairy Barn at 9 p.m. anymore. I could. I have nothing to stop me, no little kids sleeping upstairs, no homework to correct and lunches to make. But I won’t because the ice cream won’t taste as good, and 9 p.m. will feel like the middle of the night.
I won’t go to the beach, either. I may go to walk, but not with the little kids, even if it’s a beach day and even if it’s a weekend, because the little kids I went to the beach with live in New York, and they were here for summer vacation, and summer is over and vacation is, too. And even the children who do live here couldn’t go because of soccer and dance and riding and obligations.
No more spontaneous get-togethers. No more beach. No more cookouts.
The end of summer.
Not the saddest words in the English language. But today, right now, they’re close.