Goodbye to the Wet, Hot Season

end of summer

This blistering summer was so rainy and overwhelmingly humid that nearly everybody around town was talking about it. Most likely, any or all of you were part of one of those conversations. I guess that it’s hard not to talk about what you have to deal with every day.  But I, for one, have been sensing a change that’s coming. It usually happens every mid-August or early September for me. Maybe it’s the sparkling blue of the sky as the cirrus clouds hang up in the high altitudes, like gossamer strands. Or it could be the chip chip chipping of the mockingbird, choosing not to sing during the end of Dog Days, for whatever reason. And it might be the way that the narrow, lengthening shadows lay on the ground for most of the day. Or maybe it’s an occasionally cooler night that triggers the sense in me that Autumn is around the corner.

But what is it that makes the Fall of the year so welcomed, so anticipated, and in a lot of cases so longed for? It depends on the person, I guess, but in the minds and hearts of many it probably has something to do with the prospect of home town football; the turn in the temperature; the leaf change that comes around November; or the mystery of a foggy glow at midnight. It could also have something to do with the far-off sound of shotguns on a Sunday afternoon; ghost stories; the woody, mellow smell of burning yard litter; or the farmers’ market on a Saturday. And it might be something about that derelict old shanty at the end of the lane; the local dollar store’s aisles filled with Halloween candy; seeing the last golden flower nodding its tired head, far away in an abandoned field; or the incredible food and history associated with Thanksgiving that sends the mind racing.

This past Sunday I was watching FOX News while getting ready for church, and a Marie Calendar frozen turkey dinner commercial came on. Then I looked out through the front window at a beautiful morning, and thought about the hint of Fall that I have noticed these last couple of days. I immediately got to thinking about cornbread dressing, sweet potato souffle, gravy and mashed potatoes, congealed salad, squash casserole, biscuits, brownies and chocolate chip cookies, ambrosia, tender speckled butter beans, a honey roasted ham, laughter, and turkey of course.

Fall is a time for remembering, anticipating, and experiencing all those beloved notions that our thoughts can conjure; whether it’s the delight of great Thanksgiving fare, or any of the other much adored things that are connected with the season. But Autumn is also about a lovely dying away, when the world prepares for a well-deserved change; a comforting change that has been achingly awaited, like an old friend returning from being a long time away from home. Autumn is a season when we are all reminded, once again, just how awe-inspiring it can be to experience something as simple as a high school football game, or a forgotten pumpkin vine out at the old fattening pen, or the clusters of glittered leaves and acorns on the thrift store shelf; and then to get caught up in the overwhelming wonder of it all. So, please come quick Thanksgiving and Halloween and leaf change and cooler conditions; and all the rest that there is to love about the soon-to-come season of wonder. . .

Dog Days

sirius

There is always something for me that hearkens to autumn, during the mid-August dog days. In my corner of the world, dog days are when we get to suffer through heat that is nearly unbearable, combined with much rain- at least that’s what happens most years. In fact, the old folks use to say that it rains for forty days and forty nights during this annual spectacle, just like in the Bible. It has also been said that the mockingbird does not speak when those rainy days and nights occur. I think this, too, is right, because I have noticed it happen- I always pay attention to nature. But the thing that I notice the most is how the shadows start to get longer and the days start to get shorter.  And there is something comforting but a little mysterious about the way the world sounds- the buzz of a solitary bee or a  brief rustling of leaves. There is also something about the angle of the sun as it rises and sets, with the dog star Sirius by it’s side. And there are glimpses of dependable, emerging  plants, which possess a fall flowering nature; appearing along the roadsides and overgrown areas in a yard, here or there. But mostly it’s the unexplainable something- it is more of a feeling than anything a person can see or hear- maybe it’s just me that senses it. But somehow, there seems to be a mellow and comforting emotion that returns; like an old friend who comes back home after a long time away. It is odd to me that I get these hints of autumn in my mind, when the days are still so overwhelmingly hot, with greatly anticipated cooler days yet a month away. Even so, I am glad at the prospects of relief from the sticky heat and the incessant rains, and the coming change. . .

The Cusp

football

We are on the cusp of a time of wonder. It shows up every year, as the local kids, and we teachers, go back to our classes after a good summer. The wonder very soon starts to grow, where the new team begins to huff and dance to the rhythm of the coach’s whistle- working through drills in the steamy afternoon, out by the parking lot. While I walk to my pickup after work, I get excited at the prospects of Friday night lights, as I witness this early evening scene and hear the early evening sounds. It makes me remember back, to how the music of the band from the home field bleachers- as the screaming crowd reacts to the tension of a close game- gives me a thrill that I cannot adequately describe.

And as I unlock the truck door to head homeward, fantastic daydreaming invades my childlike mind- daydreams of the welcomed relief of waning heat, and chilly midnights. I begin to long for witch tales around a yellow blaze, and a late September stroll along an isolated, leaf-cluttered lane, where the last morning glories smile at the waking sun. I think about Halloween and Christmas and Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving and food and harvest time. If I could find an empty field somewhere so that no one would see me, I would jump up and down, and holler and laugh (and nearly explode with an unnameable something that is beyond happiness and anticipation) at the thoughts of all those marvelous things. . . and there are more fantastic and marvelous things. Yes, I would say that we are assuredly on the cusp of a time of wonder.