Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Missing Summer Before It's Gone

Glancing out the window into the backyard, I see that two neighbor children have joined my monkey-girls in the maple tree. The air is crisp and fresh, like a crunchy piece of celery, but lacks the biting chill of Autumn. The kids are still dressed for summer-- shorts and no sleeves. They play in the shade long enough to realize that they are cold, then run to the sunny spots in the yard to warm themselves like lizards on a rock. Though school has started, these kids are squeezing out the last evenings of summer like water from a sponge.

I look out the window and watch their willowy legs, now too long for last year's pants. I see the maturing way in which my children interact with their peers. Their games are more complicated, their imaginings grounded in facts and maxims recently learned. They are testing gravity with a complex entanglement of jump-ropes, which Eleanor has spent the last few weeks methodically installing in the tree. I wonder-- not for the first time-- whether jump-ropes and trees are a safe combination, but I can't bring myself to stomp on their fun with my giant Safety Patrol boot.

We walk to the Farmer's Market for the third-to-last time for this season. In two weeks the market will close and we will mourn its loss until late next Spring. I buy Strawberries at one booth-- "they are ever-bearing," the lady explains-- and they are all gobbled up before we get home.

I think about my summer: the too-much rain, the fighting children, the long stretch of unstructure that unnerved me. But when January rains trap us indoors like Noah on the ark, I know this will be the summer day I long for: the one that tasted like celery and strawberries, and felt like lovers parting ways.