Last week we talked about the immense benefit of simply being still. There’s real power in, on occasion, allowing existence to come to us. So if, like me, you’ve recently availed yourself of that skill, then you’ve probably noticed some subtle shifts signaling the end of the season.
The first sign is the unsettling absence of that distinctive morning wetlands trill. Those always humorous redwing blackbirds, ubiquitous from March through July, have already left us for their southern wintering grounds.
Most folks believe a robin to be the first sign of spring, but the truth is, the hearty redwing blackbird generally beats our red breasted friends back here by as much as a month. Icy ponds be damned!
And speaking of the bird the Jackson Five made famous, most of them have already headed south as well. Oh! You’ll still see a few stragglers and those making a migratory stop in these parts, but what you won’t see (till next spring) is their distinctive open field sprint culminating in a head pop as they listen for the telltale sound of earthworms.
The surest sign the herons are moving on is seeing a slew of the normally solitary birds in the same pond. On a good day, I’ll see sixteen of ‘em searching for a quick snack on their way to warmer climes.
And people are behaving a bit differently too.
Rush hour traffic is filling in as those family vacations slowly fade into yet another fond memory. Though the seasonal sense of tranquility hasn’t completely worn off, we’re well into the throes of that double edged August sword that reminds us we haven’t accomplished nearly what we’d set out to and the school bell is about to ring.
So now it’s a strange frenzy of haircuts, picking up school supplies and new clothes at Target, and doing our best to take advantage of those last long days which only serves to utterly undo the solace of that summer state of mind.
Strange and odd creatures we humans are.
Even the kids aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves. In the welcoming arms of June, summer vacation seemed like a vast expanse of endless possibility. Now, bounded by boredom and the futility of trying to stave off September’s quickening approach, they’re acting just like the agitated yellow jackets who also sense the end is near.
Soon the sun will set before seven-thirty, the nights will become a bit crisper, the leaves will shed their shiny green coat, the pool will close, and the house will become a little too quiet.
Fall is a fine season, but it ain’t summer.
In this vein, I will leave you with the best passage on the passing of summer ever written. Though he was actually lamenting the end of the Chicago Daily News when he wrote it, it will serve our purpose just as well. In the words of the late great Mike Royko:
When I was a kid, the worst of all days was the last day of summer vacation, and we were in the schoolyard playing softball, and the sun was down and it was getting dark. But I didn’t want it to get dark. I didn’t want the game to end. It was too good, too much fun. I wanted it to stay light forever, so we could keep on playing forever, so the game would go on and on.
That’s how I feel now. C’mon, c’mon. Let’s play one more inning. One more at bat. One more pitch. Just one? Stick around, guys. We can’t break up this team. It’s too much fun.
But the sun always went down.