summer slips away

I’ve been carrying the sadness of summer’s end on my shoulders like a shawl I’ll need in winter. More than any other season, summer intimates eternity: the long hours of light, the effortless warmth.

More than any other season, summer seems to slip away before I’m ready.

I gaze at the dying flowers on my way to the beach, trying to remember that they’ll feed the earth in autumn.

flowers in August

At Independence Park, three boys play in the sand. Hamilton & Anderson were toddlers when I taught them two years ago. Their big brother Harrison was a kindergartner. We saw each other when summer began, and I swear they seemed half this size.

I take a picture of the boys so I can return to this moment later, when I might properly feel the beauty of it. My mind is awhirl with plans and concerns, wary of settling itself back into the sturdy arms of routine. The school year is rushing at me full tilt, and I just want to duck.

Ducking is something like a bow, isn’t it? A snippet of Mary Oliver resurfaces in my mind, so I look it up when I get home. It’s from “When I Am Among the Trees” (Thirst).

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
 

Oliver offers us something to aspire to, doesn’t she? Summer, I bow to you. I’ve been your faithful pupil: unscheduled, unhurried, negligent of e-mail.

I look at the photograph of the boys in the sand and think of the kids I’ve taught who are headed off to college. It breaks my heart a little each time I see someone I used to teach. How easy it is to take a child for granted when she’s with you daily, but turn your back and she grows right up.

So I’ll carry my sadness a little longer. Sometimes sadness is another name for gratitude, isn’t it? Children grow and time scurries along, and if we love well, we’ll feel both the sorrow and the joy of this more deeply all the time.