Thursday, September 1, 2011

Goodbye, summer...Hello, September

For me, no other month ends with as much finality as August. For one thing, June, July, and August are "the summer months." Even though summer officially extends another three weeks or so, it's not the same. Our long summer evenings, when it was light past 9 p.m., are gone. Temperatures are beginning to cool, or to transition to whatever craziness the next season brings. If garden tomatoes aren't ripe by now, they never will be. And of course school is back in session. Since I spent nearly my entire career working at colleges and universities, that sense of gearing up and getting serious every autumn is thoroughly incorporated into my biological rhythms. Actually, this serves me well, since our daycare with the grandkids corresponds to their parents' high school teaching schedules.

In fact, people around here began declaring "Summer's over" as soon as the State Fair opened a week ago. I steadfastly refuse to accept that line of thinking, just as I don't consider Christmas to be over on December 26. But somehow once the Fair started, I lost track of the days. When I looked at the calendar late this afternoon and realized that the date was August 31, it came as a bigger surprise than it should have. And when I opened the calendar to this month's firefighter photo, it was again oddly jarring to see, in capital letters: SEPTEMBER.  

It's not that I dislike September. I love fall colors, sunny days that morph into cool nights, and even the transformation of the garden as the perennials begin to lie down for their winter naps. Last year's autumn was spectacular, and I'm hoping this year will be the same. But to step from August into September is to leave something behind. Our week at the lake. Trips to the ballpark. Long summer evenings with late sunsets. And maybe something else: maybe the myth of carefree summer days when anything is possible.

This sense of loss seems complicated this year by a cluster of significant dates. August 31 was my Mom and Dad's anniversary. She died in 1980 just a week before what would have been their 40th anniversary. I often don't even remember the date of her death; but I always remember their anniversary, followed closely by Dad's birthday on September 4 and Mom's on September 7. Ever since Dad died in June, they've both been on my mind.

I'm choosing to believe that my reaction to the calendar is an artifact of that process, and that September is going to be a fabulous month. And oh yes, here is Mr. September from the St. Paul Firefighters Calendar, proceeds from which support two children's health charities.

17 comments:

Dee Ready said...

The next few days will most likely inundate you, Nancy, with memories of your father. I hope these memories of him and of your mother will comfort you in your grief.

The following words from your posting seem so wise: "But to step from August into September is to leave something behind. . . . maybe the myth of carefree summer days when anything is possible." I think you've touched a truth here for all of us.

Peace.

Jeanie said...

As wonderful as Fall is, I pretty much dig my heels in when it comes to letting go of summer.
I hope you can find comfort from the memories of your parents that this time of year brings you.

DJan said...

When I realized that Labor Day is Monday, I knew that the summer is over. Good post. I feel the same way about the jarring end of summer. Here in the PNW we barely got started and now it's over...

Grandmother said...

The end of summer is different for me since retiring and moving to Italy where it's still in the middle to high 80's- nice beach weather. And no child care to keep me in old rhythms. Be kind to yourself on anniversaries of loss, they are tough.

Marion Williams-Bennett said...

I've always loved September, but have felt that there is something melancholy about this month. No other month signals change to me as much as September.

I imagine adding these significant milestones to the mont would add to it's complexity. I wish you peace this September. Take comfort in the long shadows.

Mimi said...

This year my mother celebrated her 75th birthday on Aug. 6th and then she passed away on the 19th. I guess I too will feel differently about August from now on. I also was shocked to see September show up, but for once I am glad to leave August behind.

Thanks for your melancholy-ish meanderings and your beautiful photos. And quite frankly, Mr. September brought a much needed smile to my face!

gayle said...

Summer has always been my favorite time of the year for many reasons. I must say I don't like our NC heat and humity anymore. I hate summer to end because that means back to work for me!

injaynesworld said...

I feel like I completely missed summer this year with all the purging, planning, and packing to move, along with a busy work schedule. But we usually get an "Indian" summer in September, so maybe it's not too late for me to grab a "carefree" summer day or two.

Julie Magers Soulen said...

Your reflections of the passing of summer are beautiful and well understood. I too will always associate September with school; one of my favorite memories as a kiddo. And the hunk from September is a nice finishing touch!

Cheers!
Julie
Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Retired English Teacher said...

I find that the time when summer ends and fall begins has been harder since retirement. Perhaps that is because I am not so busy starting a new school year, so now I notice the subtle changes more. I find this time of year a bit harder to accept also as I watch those perennials "lie down to their winter naps" a bit difficult to watch also.

Linda Myers said...

I love the long light of summer even when it's cool in the Pacific Northwest.

We're having a heat wave for the next week - in the 80s every day. I think I'll postpone thinking about fall for now.

Chantel said...

Ah Bliss...I will miss the summer light and fireflies. But I will make up for it with soup. For me, Autumn is the season of soup.

Quiet. Good reading and deep thinking. And soup.

Teresa Evangeline said...

There is a feeling to this time of year, isn't there? Add some important dates and you've got a recipe for the bittersweet. I hope you have a wonderful fall full of good memories of those who've passed.

Mr. September is helping me get through the transition. :)

Deb Shucka said...

"But to step from August into September is to leave something behind." This struck me as being particularly profound. For me this year the step is from two years of freedom into another year as a classroom teacher. Even so, I love the softness of September, and the golden light that only happens this time of year.

This is one of my favorite of your pieces.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Oh my you have so many of those dates so close together..it must be difficult. Especially hard are all those firsts after your Dad died late last winter.
Sometimes I think that the people we are closest too..are like a book and when the final chapter is written it is hard to close the book and put it on the shelf.
Sending you a hug:)

Thom Brown said...

My brother-in-law isa fireman; he doesn't look like that!

I gave you an award:

http://bluedollarbill.blogspot.com/2011/09/and-award-goes-to.html#.Tml-fXN4Xnw

Jeanie said...

Our temperatures are beginning to cool also -- tonight I'm wearing fleecy shirts and slippers! Soon, a quilt! But I do love September, its harvest. Its light. It's the proximity to November I dread!

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