The Closing Down Of Summer

Fall’s on the way. You can feel it in the air. You can see it in the colour of the sunlight. Although today is a warm day (24° C), there’s that something in the breeze, you can smell it, hinting at the change of season.

At The Public Gardens

Yesterday at the Public Gardens wild bees were busy harvesting nectar and pollen – there were some hive bees foraging, too. It was interesting watching the wild bees push the hive bees out of the way – no room for interlopers.

I’ve written about the closing down of summer before.

In the opening pages of Alastair MacLeod’s short story: The Closing Down Of Summer (in the collection: As Birds Bring Forth The Sun) he begins:

It is August now, towards the end, and the weather can no longer be trusted. All summer it has been very hot. So hot that the gardens have died and the hay has not grown and the surface wells have tried to trickles and the trout that inhabit them and the inland lakes are soft and sluggish and gasping for live. …

At the end of July we said to ourselves and to each other, “The August gale will come and shatter all of this.” The August gale is the traditional storm that comes each August, the forerunner of the hurricanes that will sweep up from the Caribbean and beat and lash this coast in the months of autumn. The August gale with its shrieking winds and crashing muddied waves has generally signalled the unofficial end of summer and it may come in August’s very early days. But this year, as yet, it has not come and there are only a few days left. Still we know that the weather cannot last much longer and in another week … the pace of life will change. 

That’s what it feels like today and has felt like for the past week – there has been no August gale, just mostly sunny days – no rain which we desperately need and begin to want. But the air has changed, the colour has begun changing. The Queen Anne’s Lace is ending, the Goldenrod droops, I’ve seen Chicory in a few spots already. The plants know the season is changing.

The folks in the building where I live have been meeting outdoors in a green spot beside our garage driveway – we bring our chairs and knit, or box lunches and share a meal. We can likely do that for September and with jackets maybe October but after that outdoor gatherings won’t be possible.

We’ve all enjoyed the laughter and camaraderie these outdoor gatherings have given us. We will need to find ways to continue congregating – with masks, social distancing, and cleaning the indoor spaces before we leave. We will find a way to carry on – we have to. We’re now accepting the Covid-19 rituals to which we’ve become accustomed will be necessary for the foreseeable future, for a year? maybe longer?

This closing down of summer, now in the air, signals changes we will have to invent in order to sustain our community. We’ll find a way to carry on. As will everyone else.