September 7, 2014 – Where Have All the Summers Gone
I've started to hear people say things about how glad they are that fall is nearly here. They've begun talking about pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween decorations while I wonder where my summer went. I've lost the sense of the seasons. This has been a problem for me this whole year. For once, winter was too short. Spring I handled begrudgingly, sloshing through the melting snow of the Wyoming wilderness and cursing the rising temperatures. But then I blinked and spring was gone. When summer rolled in, wasting no time, I had no specific goal for it except to avoid the Texas cocktail of heat and humidity.
With that in mind, I went northwest. I spent a month of summer in Oregon, watched fireworks from the top of a hill on the Fourth of July, cooled my feet in the river, grilled zucchini and mushrooms on an open fire, drank blended icy lemonade on the back porch with sweat beading designs along the contours of my face. All those were summery things to do. But in retrospect they feel like brief moments from some past life, some past summer long ago.
Maybe this is because I got lost in the time between library visits. I got so wrapped up in reading about history that the future too quickly became the present then the past. All too soon, I returned my stack of library books and bid goodbye to Oregon.
By invitation I gypsyed on to Tennessee. I braced myself for the inevitable heat, humidity, and mosquitoes that come with Southern living. It wouldn't be Texas, not nearly so hot, but I prepared myself for the worst. I was pleasantly surprised. Summer in Nashville has been the pianissimo to forte fortissimo crescendo of the cicada song, the background hum of crickets. Thunderstorms and dark-edged clouds. Soft breezes that shift the humidity into ghostly, nearly tangible forms. Dragonflies hovering over fresh cut grass. Mornings spent on the front porch steps with the kitty for company. More books read. Day passing into new day.
Summer has vanished as I’ve come to grips with my year-long existential crisis and become slowly reacquainted with hope. Hope for all kinds of things. Leonard Bird in Folding Paper Cranes said, “Hope is everything. …hope is a process, albeit not always a logical one. Hope is integral to the psyche.”
And maybe the psyche is integral to this fragile, beautiful thing called life. Maybe it's even simpler than that. Maybe it's as simple as the phrase I picked up from my dad in which he says, “Where there's life, there's hope.” It’s just a matter of recognizing it.
Maybe it’s as simple as knowing that this summer might be well gone, but there will be another one. And another one after that. Summer is vanishing, there will be pumpkin spice lattes and the observance of Halloween, and I’m okay with that. Fall has its charm. Summer may disappear, the seasons will change, and I'm already looking ahead for winter to come.