Submitted by Susanne Bacon.
Though, according to the calendar, it will be summer for a few weeks yet, we all know that Labor Day pretty much marks the end of summer everywhere in the United States. Certainly, here in Western Washington. In Germany, Labor Day would be in May and mark the beginning of early summer. So much for what holidays are about and what they really mean to people. As to the end of summer, I think people feel pretty much the same about it anywhere.
Here, the ferries will fill with the last of summer people leaving their island residences. The roads will be congested with campers returning home with their RVs. SeaTac airport will be overcrowded with passengers departing to their homes somewhere else in the States or returning from their vacations. And then, one night in your favorite corner pub, you will realize that all of the sudden it’s just you and the other local regulars again.
It is also this time of year that some people seem to skip every thought about a gorgeous fall lying in wait with brilliant colors against a bright blue sky or against the first low gray clouds. They announce that it is only that many more weeks till Christmas and seem to justify that supermarkets start turning out Christmas items already and TV broadcasts Christmas movie marathons again. The first farmers markets vanish from sight though there is still so much colorful bounty out there. But I guess, it is the worry about customer frequency during colder and wetter days that reduces their number so very suddenly.
Schools start announcing all kinds of activities on their billboards. School busses that have been parked somewhere invisible all summer long suddenly fill the roads in droves again, and you better be aware that their stopping means that you stop, so kids can safely cross the road. It means that in school zones speed limits are enforced more strictly again. And that, as the mornings are staying darker longer, you better watch the road shoulders in case some little ones are waiting in the murky dawn for their school bus to pick them up.
The end of summer also means that you gather the last of your garden harvest and maybe can it or share it with your neighbors. That the trees in your yard start getting barer, the squirrels in them furrier, and your gutters filled with leaves. It means you switch off your fans and ACs and switch on the lights earlier. The patio furniture might get some last use on one of the warmer September days. And in the evenings, you hear the Canada geese fly across in formation, their honks sounding like a rusty garden pump, gathering to move further south.
The end of summer has got the blues, no doubt. A very soft one, with the reminiscence of bared skin and ice cream, of watering thirsty gardens and of dusty country roads, of juicy berries gleaming on bushes and of children’s laughter from secret gardens. It carries the seething ache of Nature falling asleep and dying, of colors so vibrant that we know they cannot last. It brings along a sense of isolation and huddling up at home.
End of summer – a last boating tour on the Sound, a farewell to splash parks and fountains, a final hike in the mountains before the first of snow hits the summits.
End of summer – and the year rolls on, every year seemingly faster.
End of summer. But we know there will be another one next year.