Mourning the Death of Another Summer

The drizzly death of another summer is sending me into mourning the many things I meant to do and didn’t, or didn’t do nearly enough — sipping lemonade by the pool while reminiscing to the mad sizzle of crickets, rowing on the lake in a wide-brimmed straw hat, tracing constellations from a mountain trail, dancing under the stars.

Summer is the only season whose passing fills me with regret and a sense of my mortality.

Halloween annoys hell out of me. Thanksgiving is a nice enough interlude but is somewhat tarnished by the gobbler menu. I’m in heaven when New Year’s afternoon finally creeps around and stores reopen to signal the end of another interminable season of manufactured reverence and cloying commercialism. Winter rains make mud which forces me off my sinuous and verdurous running trails and onto dull flat asphalt. Skiing is wonderful for one glorious day, after which I can’t wait to lose the clodhopper gear and lift lines and reclaim my freedom. Spring is nice for a couple of weeks until I start getting antsy for swimming weather.

Summer — now that’s life at its sweetest. The heat? What better reason to swim and drink boba and eat shaved ice and frozen yogurt while show off the sculpting effects of those runs and workouts. And the warm weather opens the hearts of strangers mingling in faraway lands, human ants with antennae fully extended for maximum sharing of their sense of well being.

To see the death of all that for another seven or eight months is an annual tragedy that, I am sure, ages me. I have entertained the notion that if summer never ended, I would stay the same age forever. Summers are warm islands in the cool relentless river of time, when all happy memories live on and on. It’s little wonder that John Keats wrote his prettiest lines about summer disguised as an ode to a little bird:

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South!
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth…

Maybe we count the passing of years by summer because of the three-month vacations of our youth or maybe because summers are the season of flowering of the natural cycle. Either way, I see it as the reward for having persevered through homework and dreary weather and the coming forced cheer meant to make up for it.