Summer’s End(less Summers)
by Roy Lincoln Karp
Seasons are states of mind and when we slide from one into the next, there is a change in us so molecular that it feels as if we have become a new person altogether. The concerns of summer, of staying cool and keeping busy through the long days, watching dappled sunlight play on an old stone wall, taking cold showers before slipping beneath the sheets with a novel, are now in the distant past. It was here just a week ago and yet it suddenly seems gone forever.
People ask how your summer was and the response is always inadequate, mundane, lacking poetry. My summer was a hazy dream of sipping coffee in bed while playing with my daughter and her stuffed animals, swinging her through sprinklers while she let out shrieks equal parts laughter and fright, of wonder for all the progress she has made tempered with anger as I watch an 18 month old scamper past her on a playground structure she still cannot climb on her own at age four.
Fall has not yet begun and yet it has begun. We are stuck in limbo, a seasonal purgatory. School has started up again, but the humidity of August has not yet broken and jeans still stick to your legs. The days are getting noticeably shorter, but we’re still not ready to shut down the backyard, to say goodbye to dinners al fresco. A heavy shower raining down plump drops has moved in under darkened skies and, from the smell of it, I believe it has traveled here from the Caribbean, like Hurricane Gloria when it swept through Manhattan when I was a boy.
I’ve reached an age when summer is not simply three months of the year, but every summer playing back in an endless loop. It is sipping nectar from honeysuckle flowers growing along a footpath on Fire Island, the sweetness of wild raspberries my sister and I eat while on country walks in the Adirondacks, the smell of water logged wood on dilapidated docks, the echoing clang of a wooden oar on the hollow drum of a metal canoe, melted butter on spaghetti, salty tears running down my cheek as I read the part where the father dies in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Summer is all of the worlds to which we have escaped, a place that is both real and unreal, between the hope of spring and the responsibility of autumn.