The Fading Days of A Stolen Summer,
For reasons I've already explained on our forum, the last half of summer for me was ruined by events that were beyond my control and changed our lives through horrible circumstances. As the days grow colder and shorter, I've come to realize yet again that the changing of the seasons are a great metaphor for life and how the things we take for granted are eventually gone.
Last night we had a fire. No, not the kind that ruins your home and destroys your belongings. I mean a "camp fire," a ring made out of stones with split logs and broken sticks that were gathered from the patch of woods behind our house. It was the first one we had this summer.
In years past, it was a regular occurrence. I would gather the wood after a thunderstorm or on the trail that I've been working on since we first moved here, and pile them up in the area we have now for this activity. My wife and I would be sitting there in our out-door chairs alone talking about everything that happened that day, sharing our experience transplanting trees, building or maintaining the garden, or fixing some cosmetic item on our home. Together we would be sharing a bottle of wine, some hard-cider or beer depending our mood and the season. We would do this from the very early days of spring to the very end of Autumn, sometimes well into November just before Thanksgiving. With the children the campfires have been relegated to just Summer, for now.
The time of the year was marked by the layers of clothes and our distance from the fire.
With children, our campfires were less frequent or more chaotic. With friends, extended family and neighbors the fires were louder. But the memories of this house are richer and more vivid because of the times spent around the fire talking about where we went and what we did.
The campfire was one of the things neglected this summer. Too many times we said "if not this weekend, next weekend for sure." There was always something getting in the way, too busy or too tired. There's something wrong when you neglect something you enjoy so much, when you're "must-do" list overwhelms the "want-to-do" list.
And then, suddenly, we simply couldn't have camp-fires because I couldn't get my wife to the fire ring - either because she was still in the hospital or in too much pain and needed to rest. We have all the time in the world to do what we love, but not the opportunity.
Last night, while gathering the paper and cardboard to start the fire underneath the pile that was already too high, it occurred to me again how vital this ritual is. The lighting of the kindling, the fanning the flames, moving the wood around to optimize the infant inferno and then finally sitting down and enjoying the warmth and light. There's the added sensation of camp fire smoke, a soothing incense that drives the flying pests away.
When Memorial Day comes, we think that somehow we have enough time. Autumn is some abstract concept to be tucked away into the back of our minds. The problems and perpetrations for a new school year is something to avoid for the time being, hoping that things like supplies and schedules will just work themselves out. Business projects will just line up and finish themselves as we should be taking time for swimming, hikes and out-door games. Labor Day is some far off thing, like a twinkling in the sky like Jupiter or Mars.
But now, the whistling winds of autumn and winter have returned bringing with it the crisp air and the oranges and reds in the leaves. There's the intensity now to get in as much "summer" in as we possibly can as we wear our fedoras more out of necessity then style, and complement them with favorite sweaters or leather jackets. The summer decorations and tools rattle against the house as gusts catch on our homes corners and edges: "Labor Day and the new school year is coming."
The changing of the seasons is as much a part of life as it is a metaphor for it. There's a new adventure for some, as adventure and mystery novels make way for text books and new skills are acquired. There's the anticipation of rekindling old friendships and acquaintances that were put on hold at the end of the last school year. There's looking forward to new thoughts and ideas that come with the opening of a text book. A new set of clothes to match the new group of classmates or the renewed sense of dedication to our careers for the adults. Autumn seems to bring about a new sense of maturity and commitment to what we have to do, and love to do.
The late summer harvests in our gardens will make way for raking leaves and carving pumpkins.
There is for me, a sense of melancholy - a happiness to be sad that Summer is over. The child-like care free days of wearing just a t-shirt and shorts are done. The laying around and reading books as entertainment outside concludes as we take our reading indoors. Basking in the sunlight and fretting about tan lines and burns will be a faded memory.
No longer are we able to take those care-free days of Summer for granted. For all of us, at the same time, it's over and we enter a new phase of our lives. Did we appreciate it while it was here? Did we fully acknowledge this season of our lives and make the most of it while it was here? Did we squeeze out the most of what life had to offer while the biggest concern we had was how to stay cool in the heat and avoid getting bitten by the bugs?
We are only here living this life for only a brief season here on Earth, and we don't realize what we have until it's threatened or gone. There are seasons in our life that come and go, gone before we sometimes appreciate them. We enjoy things just the way they are and once we take that for granted, it's soon gone.
Talk about time passages...