On a solo walk to the pond this week, I saw three guys bringing in the dock at the public beach. They had tools, a boat, and know-how, and I and a few other onlookers stood for a spell on the beach and watched them work. All of us were there in the stunning warmth of sunshine, under the impossibly blue dome of sky and with barely a hint of fall color in the trees surrounding us. It seemed unbelievable to me that it was already time for this annual ritual, even though signs of it have been apparent for weeks.
Really what I was asking myself as I stood on the beach in the 70° sunshine is, Where did the summer go?
When I was a kid, summer seemed like an almost agonizingly long expanse of time, an enormous canvas of time to paint with swimming and practicing and reading and whatever else floated by and grabbed my attention. I was oblivious to the chill in the air that August slowly rolls out to us every year, and focused instead on the heat and the unstructured out-of-school boredom, and the many creative ways to beat or avoid them both.
Now in my 40s, I feel right to my bones how short the summers are here in New England. I am one of the first to feel the cold now, one of the first to go digging for sweatshirts and scarves at the slightest hint of any breath of air that feels remotely chilly.
I understand more and more those nuthatches and titmice who have been reliably emptying the feeder every day this past week. They’re preparing for the cold to come.
In another month, perhaps sooner than that, there will be snow on the summit of Mount Washington, visible to all of us down here the valley. Some time after that, I will be able to walk on the very surface of the pond that still now so beautifully reflects the surrounding landscape.
For now, though, like a slow-moving house cat, I will soak up every available moment in the sunny warmth.