Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Summer fades

From Edmund Wilson's notebooks of the 1920s:
The first cold blue of autumn and the melancholy of the shore provoking thoughts not only of the end of summer, but of the pressure of time, the wavering of ambition, the disappointments of love--the period of life that approaches its close like the period of the year.
August is usually a betwixt-and-between month for me: summery, yes, but often too hot, tainted by long-distant yet still potent memories of the too-early return of school. It's the month when you start to lament what you've not done in the summer, while still not having any of the consolations of autumn.

This year, however, August was an unexpected glory. It was hot enough here and there to clearly be summer, yet pleasant enough overall to reward porch-sitting and park-walking. It had five full weekends, and we were actually home for all but one of them. Baseball, well played for the dog days, was a soothing backbeat. Hummingbirds visited, the first time.

September's arrival, therefore, is less bittersweet than usual. Summer in Chicago is a fleeting, untrustworthy, regretful thing; this year, somehow, it escaped its own nature. I look to autumn now not with the melancholy of Wilson, but the joy of Thoreau, writing in his journal on October 14, 1857:
Another, the tenth of these memorable days. We have had some fog the last two or three nights, and this forenoon it was slow to disperse, but this afternoon it is warmer even than yesterday. I should like it better if it were not so warm. I am glad to reach the shade of Hubbard's Grove; the coolness is refreshing. It is indeed a golden autumn. These ten days are enough to make the reputation of any climate. A tradition of these days might be handed down to posterity. They deserve a notice in history, in the history of Concord.
May your autumn this year bring similar shimmering pleasure.

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