Summer’s End

It’s that time of year again in the northern hemisphere. Summer’s over. Kids are going back to school, there’s a faint hint of coolness in the night air, and the fireflies are gone. If only the mosquitos would go with them.

After Labor Day, people tend to stop wandering, focus on business, and call an end to playtime. This is the time of year when we used to have to write school essays called some variation of “What I Did on my Summer Vacation.” Remember those? Mine used to be about swimming, since we did a lot of that in the summer, and about trips to Florida to see my cousins on my father’s side. There were always short trips to see my mom’s siblings and their families, too. And a week at the beach, where my dad would take one day to go out fishing on a boat. We built sand castles, and he taught me to swim out beyond the breakers. He’d grown up in Manila, in the Philippine Islands, and had served in the Navy, so he was comfortable in the water.

In August, we used to put down a blanket in the front yard and watch the Perseid meteor shower. The ambient light in our small town was so minimal that it didn’t blot out the stars. On other summer nights, my parents sat in the front yard in lawn chairs, with empty ones beside them so whoever wandered down the street could sit and chat.

My dad made peach ice cream in a hand-crank freezer. The ice packed into it came from the same place that had supplied ice blocks for my grandparents’ ice boxes, forerunners of refrigerators. When he finished, we got to scrape ice cream off the paddles. He also liked to peel and slice peaches, add sugar, and freeze them. I remember eating slushy, crunchy, sweet, half-thawed peaches for dessert.

My mom grew tomatoes, so tomato sandwiches were a staple, along with sliced tomatoes for meals. The tastes of summer were tomatoes, peaches, and watermelon. And, when I was deemed old enough at last, sweet iced tea.

Now my summers tend to be about preparing for fall. We took a family vacation, and I went to RWA, but I had projects to complete. Summer is no longer a time for being lazy in whatever way presents itself. We played catch-up, though not with particular success, and I tried to whittle the TBR pile. Alas, but it keeps growing despite my efforts. The dh did yard work and minor household repairs. The boy practiced his guitar and art lessons and spent some time with his girlfriend. The dog thought up new ways to mooch.

I did make it to Atlanta a couple of times and bought peaches on the way, along the same stretch of highway where my dad liked to buy them. It’s not quite the same, but it’ll do. And when we stopped on Labor Day, coming home from DragonCon, for our last fresh peaches of the season, the stand where we bought them was also selling homemade peach ice cream. Not as good as my dad’s, but it was tasty.

The dh hates the summer heat and mugginess but loves spring and fall. He grew up in the Colorado Front Range, where spring and fall are brief and the summer air is light, and went to college in New Hampshire, where winter lasts a long time. Come winter, he won’t wear a sweater because “it’s not cold here.” Compared to the Front Range in winter, probably not. He likes to poke around in the yard in the spring and fall–which is the only reason anything blooms in our yard, considering that the thing I do best for plants is kill them–savoring the seasons. If he can, he likes to put in a garden. We had green beans into November one mild year.

Now fall is officially here. We’re all back at school in our various capacities. NC apples will show up in the markets. The trees will turn, life will settle into a routine, and we’ll soon be digging out sweaters. Before we know it, Halloween will be upon us, then Thanksgiving and the rush leading into Christmas and the lull before New Year’s, and then we’ll be in the depth of winter again, looking forward to another summer.

We’re traveling today, leaving home early to go to a wedding in one of the heavily flooded counties of northern Georgia. But I’ll be back late this afternoon. Meanwhile, please send good wishes toward a young bride and groom looking for a dry place to say “I do” since the flooding torpedoed their plans and tell us–

How was your summer vacation? What foods or activities do you associate with summer? What’s your favorite season, and why?

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