I first noticed it this past Saturday morning with still another full week of August remaining. Late on Friday, the humidity had lifted. Stepping out of my house into an early gray light, there was a chill riding on a breeze coming from the north, just enough to lay a fair surface ripple on the nearby lake. Nothing dramatic—maybe a little catch of something in the way of autumn—the first, if only brief, exhale of summer. The sugar maples have been showing some color at the fringes for a short time, the summer-greens of everything else just beginning to pale a bit. I reason the maples are busier trees, and so get an early rest.
This is not to imply summer is over. The clotted, humid air will return, albeit for briefer spells, the water still warm enough for a swim. The lake will stay busy a while more even as the camps close with school on the way, and I’ll continue to indulge in a few-too-many ice cream cones. Late afternoon light will still linger into evening.
I live in a place of four seasons…deep ones at that. I’m grateful for gentle transitions and the fair warning they allow. Soon enough we’ll be adding some layers, sipping on warm drinks, gathering wood, and lighting our fires as we draw closer to the next solstice. Then the world will draw down into winter and rest. Late afternoons, the light will dim and soften and break our hearts just before it leaves us to the moon-lit snow, the icy lake, the warm glow from kitchen lights. This is the real beginning of things, and the violence of early spring will remind us of that too.
So now, in late August as summer fades toward its ending, I’ll stand reminded that all of it is perfect, all of it belongs—the things that bring warmth and joy and light, and that which brings all else. Grateful for it all. Grateful for it all.