I’ve finally admitted to myself that the summer is at it’s bitter close; the long, languid twilights giving way to the darker days ahead.
I used to wake with the sun at it’s 5:00 rise, check my clock, then pull a sheet up over my eyes for another blessed hour of sleep. Now, the alarm clock’s mechanical ring cuts through the grey of a dawn not yet broken, pulls me from bed and toward the coffee machine even before the chickens have sleepily left their roosts.
Avery started kindergarten last week. When I drop her off at school, I always watch her until the very last minute – precious little spine shouldering a load that looks much too large for her mere six years, long sturdy legs purposefully aiming her toward the classroom, small hands unpacking her backpack and hanging it on the hook marked with her name – and wonder at these years that have come and gone in a glimmer. I feel like before I know it, another September will come and I’ll be watching her walk down the wide avenues of a college campus, under the reddening leaves of oak trees.
I know some people love the fall, and while I do in my own way, it obviously also makes me feel very melancholy. It’s a season of letting go of the things I love; the funeral party of summer before the depths of winter.
The beans are done. The peas are done. The corn turned out to be an abysmal failure. There is still an occasional cucumber left to pick, though to be honest I shrink a little at the thought of another jar of pickles to have to eat this winter, and my family might revolt if I offer another bowl of cucumber salad for dinner. All that remains to be harvested are the pumpkins, butternut squash and tomatoes.
As we were leaving the farm yesterday, we passed under telephone wires hung heavy under the weight of hundreds of tree swallows. They took off soaring and swooping as we drove by, making Iris exclaim with wonder.
“What are they all doing here,” she wondered. “Why are there so many?!”
We explained to her about their yearly migration, that they were gathering in groups to begin their long flight south for the winter. The barn swallows, my favorite birds, have been gone for weeks now, their nests left empty in the rafters. And soon these cousins will follow, heralding the real last of summer. I suppose all we can do is wave goodbye, wish good luck and anticipate their happy return.