Remnants

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It was ninety-six degrees yesterday. I cut the grass, raked a bit, pulled up some dying and long-ago dead garden plants, and then went inside to switch out some summer clothes for sweaters. Not all of them though–summer doesn’t really escape this area for another month or so. But the dropping humidity and prediction of highs in the low seventies tomorrow means a slight diversion toward long-sleeve tees at night despite the continued donning of my flip flops. 

I love fall–many do–the colors of the trees, the blowing leaves, and the faint odor of something fresh in the wind. I loved it even more when I lived in New England and western New York, but even here along the Bay we are far enough north to notice the changes. Still, despite the preparation and anticipation, those changes always take me by surprise. I believe it is the absence of that sensation of hot sun on my arms and neck, the sweeping away of gnats near the river at night, the stillness of a humid morning on the bay. 

For a writer, or any artist I suppose, this is the same sensation when finishing a project. At some point complete immersion and acceptance occurs, and that work is a way of life. It isn’t “something else do to,” or an activity to occupy empty hours–even when not doing it we are doing it, thinking it, breathing in the mistakes, exhaling the edits; it gets on our skin, sometimes like the warm sun, bathing us, and other times like an allergy, and it crawls around nagging at our ability to focus on anything else. But in the end, that immersion is thrilling and gives us life, fights off depression and helps us relax. Then, at some point none of us is ever truly sure of, we are done with the project, at least physically, and we let it go–send it out, mail it, pass it along, bury it in the woods–but done, and that moment is always a surprise. The letting go and moving on means putting on something new while still wearing something else. 

You get the point. I’ve beaten down that metaphor for now.

But tomorrow it will be cooler. Colder. In the mountains to the west they’ll have a frost warning, and here along the bay the breezes will somehow be both cooler and balmy. Such is October.

Such is life. Right? The balance of what has been hanging on a little too long blends with the new stuff which edges its way into our psyche?  The big changes are obvious and predictable, despite their strange surprise-factor. Seasons, New Years, birthdays, anniversaries, birth, death, employment, retirement, and on and on. Sometimes it is the small stuff which affects us: Ever finish reading a book and wish it had continued? wondered what the characters were up to next? Part of you can’t wait for the next book; another part wishes you had read the last one a bit slower. 

Yeah, it’s like that, autumn… 

…like that last sip of wine, or tea on a cool morning, that last wave after a good time with family, with friends, that next day after returning home from vacation, after watching an exciting game, after the reunion, the birthday party, the quiet evening looking at the stars…

“Summer will be gone soon,” said Gatsby. “Makes you want to reach out and hold it back.”

Nick looked across the bay. “There’ll be other summers.”

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