Monday, September 17, 2018

The gentle last days of summer

It's not just saying goodbye to the long days of summer and the geese who are about to fly south for another year that makes my heart heavy.  It's knowing these days will never be recaptured.  All the satiety and fullness of ripe fruit and colorful flower gardens - now being canned and pruned - are behind me, in the memory books.  Knowing the free spirited, organic days of summer are about to  end is bittersweet.  Never did they end the way they started.  Nature had a way of seducing me, taking me along a journey I didn't start out on; a path leading somewhere fresh and new.

I saw again for the first time the beauty of the tiniest things. A simple dragonfly captivated me.  The scent of freshly cut grass transported me to childhood memories on the southside where fathers manicured their plot of land while other dads - busy washing their cars, stopped to shoot the breeze amongst themselves.  They compared baseball games and talked of the upcoming football season while we played kick the can or statue-maker.

It is the ritual of normalcy which is so becoming and what I miss most.  The beautiful passage of days when everything seemed easier, simpler - more predictable.  No longer am I able to phone a parent just to hear their voice and ask advice on life's trials and tribulations.  Those days are gone.  I'm alone now.

Being older gives me the fortitude to know all things come to pass: seasons, joy, sorrow.  Even the scent of baked goods cooling in a summer shed prepared by a hardworking grandmother, is starting to fade.  My memories are getting hazy. There are too many memories in my head; too many years stored up there for me to remember.

Today, when I stroll along the lake it is the knowledge of another season ending and geese preparing for another long flight back south that reminds me all things must and do pass.  These days will be followed by cooler winds and autumn's colors.  Sweaters will be worn and soups will be simmering as we welcome the next year ahead, a bit older, none the wiser but somehow aware it is change that is constant and life that waits for no-one.  It is a primal, internal awareness.

Knowing summer will return is meager consolation of the changes that will have taken place.  Colors will be different, people will have perished and a new perspective will take the place of old concepts. Yet, like a loyal soldier I will wait for the magic of summer to seduce me again, with her rhythm of many long lazy afternoons turning to dusk, and sunsets lasting forever. The slow creeping of a full moon over Lake Michigan will remind me of my sister and I skipping stones along lighthouse pier in a small Wisconsin town. Every night we looked out onto the water giving the waves and the dark waters our hopes and dreams.  It is this land of my father and my father's father I return to, completing the cycle of life. They are buried in her earth as one day I, too, shall be, with only a stone as my marker with my name engraved on it -  a testament of a life well lived. My children and my children's children will carry our stories into their future.  And, although we will have perished, my wish is that they carry within them our lives, never forgetting our spirits and our imprint.

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