Supper is over and I’m sitting in my recliner wearing a full-length bathrobe. This morning I put on a cardigan sweater over my t-shirt and jeans. It’s the last day of August and, for all practical purposes, the last day of summer.
We’ll probably get a few warmer days–right about the time I’ve switched out all my summer clothes for winter ones. But those days will be rare now, and surprisingly, I don’t mind.
When spring arrived and the flowers started budding, and when summer followed with birdsong and luscious blooms, I felt sad to think that we had only a few months of this glorious season. I couldn’t bear the thought of emptying out the flower pots, pulling up the faded annuals, and stacking the deck furniture in the shed.
But then it gets to be this time of year, and for some reason I feel the anticipation of autumn fluttering inside me like a tiny bird just leaving the nest. That feeling will spring forth in full flight as the leaves turn and then fall, and I start thinking about what I’ll make for family members for Christmas.
This isn’t quite that full-flight time, yet, but I feel it coming. I see the signs all around me but now, instead of something to dread, they stir a bit of the excitement that a change of season always brings to me. I note that the birdsong has changed. What I heard from the cardinal or the bluejay all summer has become a new song, a different song, not full of mating and territory guarding, but the heralding of the next phase of their lives.
Even the bird feeders are different. The chipping sparrows come and stay all day, devouring millet seed as if stoking tiny furnaces for long flights to other climes. The hated grackles have left, their broods raised, their attention turned to food from other sources. Those, I don’t miss. Scraggly young cardinals, their plumage as awkward as a teen boy’s first shave, arrive to eat seeds all by themselves, without parents hovering nearby. They’re on their own now.
Sometimes a flash of blue alerts me to an indigo bunting stopping at our feeder, but that only happens during the migration season. They’re here, then gone. I haven’t seen a robin for several weeks, and although I think they’re still around, their daily habits aren’t at all what they were last spring. Now, I think less of weeding my gardens, and worry less about whether the deer will eat my phlox or nip my sedum. Those plants are fading, as is the season that cherished them.
The air seems to smell different these days, and the dew is thicker in the morning and lasts longer into the day. Even the wind has a different pitch than in spring as the mature leaves rustle against each other. When George and I drove in the driveway this week after one of his gigs, he said, “Look at that. It’s 8:30, and it’s dark.” The long summer evenings have migrated away almost without our realizing it.
Now, rather than looking back at the delights of summer that we’re losing, I’m already looking forward to the change of colors, to fall baking, hearty soups, and walks through the woods with Tillie without swatting mosquitoes or sweating.
I’ll enjoy the flowers that are still blooming, but I no longer cling to them. I still enjoy sitting on the deck in my shirtsleeves, but I can anticipate the fireplace fires. Like the birds, my internal clock and the external signs tell me it’s time to move on. I guess, if truth be told, my favorite season is THIS one, no matter what it is.