I can say that generally I like living in a climate with four seasons, and I can find moments of glory in each. While I admit winter in NJ is cold and long, the occasional snowstorm can be beautiful and magical. That’s about all I have for winter though. “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” (Shelley). So for me, the best part of winter is that it provides the building block for the season of happiness, life and hope. Spring is surely spectacular. I love seeking the first signs of it and have taught them to my children: the arrival of the robin, baseball, the shooting greenery of daffodils and early April tulips, and the yellow forsythias. It is so exciting watching the colors change, at first gradually, and then boldly. And then as the warmth grows, to shed the layers of clothing and darkness-it’s a liberating experience.
But still, I love summer most of all. The reasons why seem endless. I accept its flaws: humidity, extreme heat, bugs, and bad hair days. In exchange, I get longer and lazier days, tanks and shorts, sun-kissed shoulders, bike rides to the park, and my beloved beach time. Summer, though, is far more than that for me; it is what summer represents. It represents the freedom, free of time constraints and strict schedules. It represents the memory-making time with my family and friends. It represents the celebration. Without the other three seasons I could not appreciate its gifts and might even take for granted its sunshine, and its warmth, and its light.
It was time the other night: the time of year to face the facts and recognize that my favorite season is coming to a close. Every June, with great excitement, the rite of passage for SUMMER begins. I bring the beach stuff from the basement into the garage; it’s sort of like a beach kit and has grown quite large over the years. It includes the following items: the beach cart, 2 beach chairs, 4 large shovels, several smaller ones, buckets, two boogie boards, a blanket, an umbrella, the beach bag with hats and towels, and two coolers. Oh and a large, rainbow colored tube. In a moment’s notice, the kids and I can be off to the beach without missing a thing. But sadly, the time had come to send this wonderful array of stuff back to the basement until next summer arrives. And I found that I simply couldn’t do it. Not yet. I did not want to admit to myself the truth. Like the favorite jeans just a size too small. You can hear the universe speaking, “No, they will not fit you again, and summer is OVER.” At least, for now.
I felt myself near tears for this silly ritual. Perhaps it's not summer ending but rather the idea of closing up, saying goodbye, moving on. I started to reflect on the summer. Did I do everything I wanted? Did I soak it up enough? Did I love it enough? Did I take advantage of all its offerings? The seasons come and go. Ending of one means the beginning of another. I know this. I have lived long enough, and yet, I feel once again that summer leaves me before I am ready. Although those that know me well, will say that I tend to cry at all kinds of good-byes, so perhaps this is just another.
Autumn is surely knocking. The nights come sooner now and there is a chill in the air as I sit and watch my son practice football. The jeans will move in along with the sweaters and light coats. The greenery will grow bold turning bright orange, red and gold. The air conditioning will finally stop and the windows will be opened. Children will toss footballs instead of baseballs outside. The kids and I go back to school, back to bed earlier, and back to a structured schedule. It’s a good thing for everyone really.
So this weekend I will move the beach stuff back away into the basement with a heavy heart. I reflect on the summer gone by and know it is time to move on- to look forward to a glorious new season, different but equally as beautiful. Perhaps this is just another metaphor for life in general. I will miss you, summer. Au Revoir—a Frenchman once told me that this means, “Until we meet again,” not “goodbye”. I prefer it.