It’s late August. I know this time of year by heart, by the evening chill, by the setting of the sunflowers as they abandon hope and droop to the grave.
Summer’s end means everything changes. Again. Weather and wardrobe, as always.
My youngest will go west to Oregon in a few weeks for another year of school. Schedules will shift to accommodate the autumn equinox. My husband’s bicycle commute will become darker in the morning just as my body clock will remain loyal to the beating of my circadian heart.
I will rise before the sun, my mind racing ahead, like the seasonal aisle at CVS, where flip-flops and sunscreen have been replaced by colored pencils and notebooks, soon to make way for Halloween masks, then horns of plenty and finally stocking stuffers.
But for this day I find my place on the front steps and steal an hour in the filtered blaze of an August sun to study the tired dance of the bees, pollen wrapped like bandages around their legs as they flit from marigold to mum.
My purple echinacea petals, sun-bleached and pale, have lost their will to live. My winter squash crop has depleted every umbilical vine and hang by waning threads. The fate of my straggling watermelons and green tomatoes, still uncertain.
A friend told me yesterday that his last child has left the roost. He and his wife have downsized. They look forward to traveling more, working less. It is the soundtrack to my generation: the next hurrah.
Meanwhile, my college graduate is questioning his immediate future. What was it all for?
I don’t even try to humor him. I have no assurances for him because everything changes.
Dreams, American or otherwise, really make no sense once you wake up and try to analyze them, or explain them to a friend. They are as vivid as they are elusive. I can’t tell my son not to worry. I can’t promise him that he will land a great job and save lots of money and fall in love and get married and buy a house and have some kids and find his purpose and be happy.
And even if I could, I’m not sure that’s his dream.
The few apples in the back that have survived predators and pests are almost ready for picking. My grapes are starting to blush and should be enough for some juice, or jelly.
I noticed some crows have been gathering by the pond as the sun winds around to meet them there, in the tall purple grass behind my house at dusk. Soon enough they will tire of the grass and will flock to the bare birch branches instead. And clinging there, just before the autumn light fades, they will join in a woeful crescendo until, on cue – some internal cue that is only clear to the collective of crows – they will all at once disperse, like someone tipped a bottle of disappearing ink.
They will flow away from the trees in a chaotic swirl and a violent swoosh, a sudden rush of change that takes my breath away. Every time.
(Carol Robidoux is editor and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com, an independent news site covering Manchester.)