Posted tagged ‘end of summer’

“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.”

September 1, 2018

Today is again glorious, cool and dry. The sun is strong. The sky is blue and unmarred by clouds. I’m going to sit on the deck and take it all in because by Sunday the ugly humidity will be back.

Today is the meteorological end of summer, and Labor Day is the unofficial end but none of that matters to Mother Nature. She will continue to blast us with heat and humidity until fall can finally work its way past her. I’m hoping it will be soon. Fall is my favorite season.

In Ghana we had the dry season and the rainy season. I lived where the dry season was hotter than any other place in Ghana, but now it is the rainy season there so the temperature in Bolga, my other home town, is the lowest it will be all year. It has been in the high 70’s and the mid 80’s there, and rain has fallen just about every day. It is odd to see it cooler in West Africa than it is here.

During my early Peace Corps days, I missed fall, the snow at Christmas and the freshness of spring. I missed flowers. But the longer I lived there, the more I came to love the changes in Ghana’s weather. The rains came intermittently in September. The fields and grasses began to turn brown. Every day seemed hotter than the previous one. By the end of September, it was the high 80’s. In October it was the high 90’s. The worst months, February through April, usually reached 100˚ or more. My favorite month was December. The days were hot, but the nights were cold in comparison. I needed a blanket. It was Bolga’s snow at Christmas. In May the rains started. The grasses turned green. The fields were filled with the young shoots of millet, maize and sorghum. The trees were green with leaves. It was spring, Ghanaian style. The market was overloaded with fresh fruits and vegetables. The tomatoes were luscious.

It has been a long, long while since I lived in Ghana so I have forgotten the horrific heat, those days over 100˚.  Back then I seldom complained. I took my cold shower late, jumped into bed and fell asleep. Now I complain and moan and turn on the air conditioner.

That’s the way it was there, and now that’s the way it is here.

“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”

August 31, 2017

Today is a delight. The humidity is still among the missing. The morning was even a bit chilly. I wished I had a sweatshirt on when I was outside waiting for Gracie. It rained all Tuesday night into Wednesday early afternoon but then the sun came out and the rest of the day was lovely. I hung around the house yesterday and finally did the laundry. It has made it upstairs only as far as this floor, but I still feel accomplished.

The kids around here go back to school next week, the day after Labor Day. It was also when I went back to school. I complained every year because that is the responsibility of kids the world over, but I didn’t really care. By the end of the summer I had run out of things to do. I was bored though I would never have admitted it.

On the weekend before going back to school, I checked out all my school supplies again and again. I sharpened my pencils and loaded and unloaded my school bag. I used to carry it with the strap across my chest, and I’d check out the look in the mirror.

I got to wear a new outfit on the first day of school, the only day of no uniforms. My mother would lay out our outfits on our beds. New clothes and new shoes were special.

On the schoolyard, I’d see my school friends for the first time since the summer had begun. When the bell rang, a hand bell rung by a nun, we’d go into the building but not in lines. Those would start the next day after we had found our classrooms and classmates. There were two classes of every grade, each with 40 or more students. One class got a nun while the other class didn’t. The nuns by their very natures kept us quiet and attentive. We didn’t dare do otherwise. The not nun teachers were just as strict. We all knew the being attentive position. It was sitting at our desks with our hands folded on top of it.

After the first few days, school became routine. We were back in uniform. Bells ruled our lives. We entered and left the school in lines. We did homework. It was a long way until June.

“When you are measuring life, you are not living it.”

August 22, 2016

Today is perfect in every way. It is sunny, breezy and dry. To top it off, it rained last night. I heard it against the window, a heavy rain. I don’t know how long the storm lasted but the deck was still a bit damp this morning. The weatherman says today and tomorrow will be beautiful with cool nights, even down to the low 60’s.

When summer starts to wind down, it seems to die quickly. The darkness sneaks in a few minutes at a time until we realize how early we need lights. We don’t think about the cool nights as we’re glad for a reprieve from the hot days, but then the days get cooler. Labor Day arrives, schools open and summer is unofficially over.

I wish summer were longer. When I was a kid, I wanted it to last forever. My days were filled with bike riding, berry picking and sleeping in the backyard. We had picnics in the woods. Bedtime was late. Dinner was casual. The clock had stopped controlling our lives.

I don’t wear a watch. The last time I remember wearing one was in Ghana, probably the one place where you didn’t need a watch. When I taught, tbells started and ended classes and every room had a giant clock so a watch was superfluous. I’m retired. I don’t clock watch unless I have an appointment. I have no bedtime. I go when I’m tired. No alarm jars me awake. I open my eyes, stretch, say good morning to Fern and Gracie at the foot of my bed, figure out what day of the week it is and if I have anything on my dance card then I get up, and it’s time for coffee and the newspapers.

“Shedding late-summer tears for the end of cherry season. Patiently and hopefully waiting for pumpkin pie season.”

August 25, 2015

The weather has broken. We have sun and a breeze. It is still hot, but the breeze makes the deck the best place to be. I’ll sit under the umbrella, read and watch the birds. The feeders need attention so I’ll fill them again today. The red spawn was on the deck rail, but it jumped onto branches then scooted away when it heard me. I guess all the hosing worked.

The summer is nearly over. There are fewer cars on the road this week. Some schools have opened and others open next week. Labor Day is in two weeks. That used to be the official end of the tourist season here when most motels and restaurants closed, but not anymore. The season now extends into October and the Columbus Day weekend.

The fall, the nicest time of year here, is probably called the shoulder season, but I always think of it as bus season. Tour buses, filled with older people, retirees, take over where the cars used to be. You can usually see the guide standing in the front of the bus chatting with microphone in hand.

The mums are here, one of the first signs of the changing seasons. They are on display at every garden center, and the ones I’ve planted the last few seasons have buds and flowers. I never noticed flower garden when I was a kid. I don’t even remember mums or a local garden center. I do remember farm stands selling pumpkins and corn stalks. We used to pass them on our Sunday drives to my grandparents. In those days much of the ride was on side roads until we connected with Route 1, but even then we drove through a few neighborhoods before we’d hit the oil tanks where the ships were moored. I remember the farm stand in Revere right near the church. The stand was set at an angle and pumpkins in piles filled both sides of the front. Inside the stand we could see those oblong fruit baskets filled with apples and vegetables. We never stopped there. We never even asked. We just knew my father would say no. He hated stopping. He was a straight here to there sort of guy.

“Education is wonderful – it helps you worry about things all over the world.”

September 2, 2013

Today is damp and cloudy. Maybe rain, even a v, is in the forecast. The whole weekend has been the same. I don’t think we had as many tourists for the weekend as usual. The forecast was spot on.

In kids’ parlance today is not Labor Day. It is the day before school starts. The buses roll tomorrow morning. My neighborhood has kids now, little kids, and four of them are headed to elementary school together: two to kindergarten, one to first grade and the oldest to second grade. They’re outside riding bikes now. I suspect their heads are not filled with images of new clothes, buses and the first day of school. They still have the look of summer about them.

The red spawn of Satan got the hose treatment again this morning. A short time later it was back but ran as soon as I walked on the deck. It didn’t take long for the hose and me to have an impact.

If I were to go back in time, to my elementary school days, I’d choose the fifth grade. We got bused for a while to the next town while the new school was finished. It was an adventure which also shortened the school day. We had the same hours as the rest of the school so we were on the bus for a part of the morning and a part of the afternoon. We always got back just as school was letting out for the day. In the spring we moved into the new school. My room was on the first floor. The nun I had that year was a jovial sort. She used to hand out pieces of candy as prizes. Seldom did she leave her desk chair to walk around the room so she’d toss the candy to the prize winner. She periodically had contests like who could list the most homonyms, now called homophones. I remember that contest because I won, and this was before computers. My prize was a miniature book with Bible verses. I was intrigued by the size of the book and not so much by the verses. I don’t remember what I learned that year, but I figure it was pretty the same as all the other years. Nouns and the other parts of speech never seemed to disappear and once we hit decimals and fractions they followed us everywhere. Columbia and coffee are forever linked. There was only so much geography. As for history, I have no idea what we studied in the fifth unless it was the Pilgrims, but in those days history sort of hopscotched all over the place.

We were still young in the fifth grade. We jumped rope during recess and giggled about boys. Fifth grade was when I punched the boy who constantly teased my friend and wouldn’t stop when asked, even nicely asked. That is probably my favorite memory of that year. I learned to stand up for friends and I learned I had a strong right.

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.”

August 6, 2013

Last night my feet were cold, and I closed the window in the den facing north. It was a wonderful evening for sleeping and both Fern and Gracie slept right beside me for warmth. Today will be another delight and tonight might just mean socks. The temperature all week will be in the mid to high 70’s during the day and the high 50’s to low 60’s at night. I figure that’s about as perfect as August can get.

My factotum is back today. Skip is right now replacing the two steps out my back door. Later, he’ll replace the long board on the deck that has a weak spot then he’ll paint the downstairs bathroom. This is the perfect week to work in the coolness of these days.

When I was young, I loved August because it is my birthday month. I knew I’d get presents and always a card from my grandparents with a five dollar bill inside. That was a treasure of great value in those days. Her whole life my grandmother never missed sending a card, but later, when I was older, the card had two one dollar bills instead of a five then a few years after that no dollars, just the card. I guessed she figured birthdays should only be celebrated by the young. I, of course, am of the opinion that birthdays should always be celebrated. The big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated by most people, but that day, that birthday, is so special you never have to share (I know-one of you might mention twins but I’m disregarding that for now ). About this time in August I’d start the countdown to my birthday. It always seemed so far away. Time seemed to take forever to pass back then.

Time now runs swiftly. Once I was told the reason for that, and it made perfect sense. When you were four, that year was only one-fourth of your life, but each subsequent year you got older and the fraction got smaller. This last year was one-sixty fifth of my life, and that took only the blink of an eye to pass.

Yesterday my grand-nephew, Ryder, started school, second grade. Where has the summer gone because I didn’t notice it’s been leaving.

“She calls it “stick season,” this slow disrobing of summer, leaf by leaf, till the bores of tall trees rattle and scrape in the wind.”

September 20, 2011

The day is cloudy with the possibility of rain. When I woke up, the house was only 62°, and I was darn cold. Obviously Fern and Gracie were too as both of them were leaning against me in bed. I warmed up the house so I can take a shower when I finish here, but it still feels damp and chilly.

Life has gone back to the mundane. I’ve started my daily list of chores and was busy yesterday with the trash, the litter and the dump. Today I have wash. Just over a week ago I was a world traveler. Today I am a washerwoman.

The time is close to shutting down the deck for the year. I’m already lamenting. It was my morning spot for coffee and the papers and my afternoon spot for my books and an occasional nap on the lounge. When the sun was shining, the breeze blowing and the leaves rustling there was no more pleasant place to be. Now I’m sitting here in the den wearing my winter slippers and a sweatshirt and seeing a dreary day through the window.

I am sorry at the close of summer but here on the cape fall is the nicest time of the year. The tourists are gone except for those on buses as this is the bus tour season. The riders are always old, at least far older than I. The women walk together as do the men. They are the generation that sat the women in the back seat when couples went out to dinner so manly talk could be made up front.

Because we barely have a spring, we are rewarded with a long autumn with cool but beautifully sunny days: today, of course, being an exception. I love taking long rides down cape this time of year. The leaves are mostly red but they are striking. The farm stands are filled with mums and gourds and apples. I always stop. I can’t resist.

“October’s poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter.”

October 14, 2010

The summer is gone. The irrigation system has been turned off, the outside shower closed and most of the furniture on the deck covered. The backdoor already has the storm door on and later today I’ll do the front. Though the days are still in the 60’s, the nights are chilly, in the 40’s. I snuggle under a blanket to stay warm, and the animals sleep close to me. The house is cold in the morning. Winter inches closer and closer.

The birds are fewer. Gone are the orioles and the goldfinches. The sky is sometimes filled with flocks flying elsewhere, somewhere warmer, but the chickadees, nuthatches and titmice will stay all winter. From my window, I’ll watch them at the feeders. Birds seem hopeful to me. They know winter doesn’t last forever so they’ll stay around and abide the cold knowing spring will return in all its glory.

My house is decorated for Halloween. It has the usual grinning jack-o-lanterns and witches, but it also has monsters and rats. Dracula, Frankenstein and his Mrs., the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy and the Wolfman adorn my mantle, though I suspect adorn isn’t quite the right word. A few rats with beady eyes sit on tables. They’re my favorites because they’re so unexpected.

When I was a little kid, my friends and I always asked each other what we were going to be for Halloween. For that one night, we would be witches, ghosts, pirates or whatever else we could dream to be. Our neighbors always wanted to know who we were behind those masks. We didn’t tell. We were the unknown spirits of the night. We’d even change the sound of our voices. Ghosts said boo and waved their shrouded arms; pirates threw around words like matey and plank while witches cackled. We were, for that one night, our imaginations. That was even more fun than the candy.

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”

September 10, 2010

The morning is breezy and chilly, and the sun, in its fall course, has drifted away from the deck so I read my papers inside this morning. I missed the deck and all its comings and goings, but from my perch here by the window, I can still watch the birds at one of the feeders. The sun is bright but not warm. It peeks in and out from behind a couple of clouds. The rest of the sky is a deep blue. It is an autumn day, no denying it.

The end of summer brings a sameness to my life. It’s happens every year. It’s just a fact, an unlamented fact. Life quiets down and loses some spontaneity. The weather gets colder, and the deck becomes a desolate place in winter. I venture outside only to fill the feeders. Chairs and tables are covered. The candles are stored away in bins. The aroma of basil from the deck planters is no longer borne on the breeze.

With the change in season, the house becomes my refuge from the cold. I stay by myself more. I plan trips I may never take. It’s the planning I enjoy. I read, sometimes all day. Nothing is better than a book you just can’t put down. Some days I stay in flannel cozies and slippers. I nap on the couch under a warm, comfy afghan. I feel content with my lot. It’s far different than summer but no less satisfying.

I’m sorry to see the summer go as it was a grand one, but I’m just fine with the coming of fall, and I don’t really mind winter all that much. It’s that sameness I mentioned. It’s comfortable in the cold.

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

September 6, 2010

Movie night was last night  and it was chilly. Clare bundled, Gracie slept on her afghan, Tony wore a hat and I wore a sweatshirt. We ate appetizers for dinner, enough for a whole theater full of people, and we watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, a movie none of us had seen in a long time. It was fun.

I still think of today as the end of summer. When I first moved to the cape, there was no extended season. The day after Labor Day the motels closed, Route 28 was dark and Main Street in Hyannis had two way traffic again. The cape had been returned to us. Now, the season extends to Columbus Day weekend. Tour buses filled with old people, older than I people, roam the main roads. They stop at Cuffy’s to buy Cape Cod sweatshirts and at the Christmas tree shops to buy bagfuls of bargains. Motels are filled on weekends. Main Street in Hyannis is always one way. It’s not my Cape yet.

When I was young, I always wondered why nobody worked on Labor Day. It seemed a contradiction. No-Labor Day would have been my suggestion for a name. I knew nothing of the history of the day. I knew all about Memorial Day, July 4th, Columbus Day and all the other single day holidays, but Labor Day was a mystery, and I didn’t care. It wasn’t my favorite holiday. I just thought of it as the day before school started.

Now that I know Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers, I don’t think one day is enough.