Summer’s Over?

As I’ve aged, I no longer view the seasons as I once did.  I loved fall as a child – the smell of burning leaves, the crispness in the air after a hot and sticky summer, the beginning of the school year, fresh apple jack with just a touch of tang, and the turning of the leaves.  I grew up in a small town in southeastern Wisconsin where you will find an abundance of hardwood trees.  On the property next to ours was a red maple, similar to this picture.  It was huge and nearly always a vivid red, like it was on fire.  Unfortunately it felt like fall only lasted a week or two and then it was suddenly winter.

As a child, winter’s first snow was magical and I couldn’t wait for it to fall from the sky.  The cold didn’t bother me then and I loved playing outside making snow angels or ice skating on the “pond” my dad would make for us with the hose.  We got a lot of snow back in the 50s and 60s.  I have a picture of myself, my younger brother, and a neighbor at about the age of 5 or 6 standing in front of the clothesline; the snow was so deep the clothesline came to our knees.

As I got older, say in my late teens, early twenties, I wasn’t as crazy about winter and the shenanigans needed to keep a car running during those sub-zero winters.  I remember setting my alarm clock for the middle of the night.  I’d get up and go outside to start the car and warm it up so it would start in the morning.  (We had no garage back then.)  The other clear memory I have is of car seats so cold they froze, making them feel like we were sitting on blocks of ice.  I no longer enjoyed the snow because I worried about getting stuck in my car somewhere far from home.

Now I find the seasons come and go very quickly.  I find I enjoy spring the most because I love seeing everything come back to life.  The buds on the trees, the singing of the birds, the sighting of our first butterfly or hummingbird, the first crocus that pops up through any remaining snow.  It reminds me of new beginnings and possibilities as I cut back the old, dead growth from the previous year.

In the metaphors of life, I find myself in the autumn of my years, and if I’m not careful, my metaphorical winter will catch me unprepared.  I need to spend more time contemplating what that means, and perhaps making a “bucket list.”  Here’s the beginning of my list:

  1. Live in a foreign country, even if it’s for only a few months.
  2. Travel to Alaska, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine so I can say I’ve been to each of the 50 states.
  3. Learn at least one ballroom dance step.

This is the last week of summer – we’ll be shoveling snow before you know it.

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