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They may not be used elsewhere or reblogged.
I’m no good at transitions. A few days after Christmas, people are ready to move on. They throw out the wrapping paper, they recycle the boxes, they take down the tree. January 23rd, and I’m still trying to squeeze in every moment, every song, every note I missed.
That cricket. That damn cricket. The last cricket.
He had to be in the house. Sometimes I walked in the kitchen, and he’d stop, and then seconds later he’d start back up. That cheep was always good for a tug, or a smile, somewhere back in the emotional part of me. It was the sound of something vaguely reassuring. I don’t know, a warm muggy night? You go outside and it seems the whole neighborhood is asleep. Maybe a lazy pause in the dark, on the cement step at the end of the walk. He sounded like the moment you were alone with the trees and the stars and the balmy air and the sounds of the last bits of summer.
It’s one of those microseconds when you look up with hopeless hope that somehow there’s still some summer left, and that’s all it lasts. A microsecond.
That’s what blinks are for.
The little bright light was unmistakably the flash of a firefly. It was almost dark, and I was by the dogwood in the front when I saw it. At first, I thought how wonderful. And then I thought sadly, oh little guy, you’re way too late. This isn’t gonna work out for you.
I made my way to the back door, and whoah, another light flashed. And another. And seconds later another in the furthest part of the back yard, under the trees. At least four different bugs. After that I lost track because fireflies cover some distance between flashes. If I knew how, I would have said, hey, there’s a guy in the front looking for you.
It seems late for fireflies, but it’s been a strange year.
That isn’t a dogwood in the picture, and those aren’t fireflies. It was a little too late to take pictures, but those last bits of light call to me. Still, the fireflies were for real. I’ve been wordy of late. The end of summer puts thoughts in my head. Thanks for patiently reading and taking the time to tell me what you think.
Is it still summer? Yes, technically. But not really. We know it, don’t we?
The bugs are merciless and the cicadas are still noisy. The birds? I haven’t seen it just yet, but the same robins who would almost fight to the death over a strip of land in July, gather like one big happy family in September. A bunch hanging together on the gutter, looking down at another group picking the yard for worms. In my imagination, it’s something like happy hour. The offspring are hunting the lawn, and the grown-ups are up there standing guard, smoking, and telling the summer’s war stories. Bad talking the feral cats. Mocking the hawks. Like … hey, you remember the morning that loudmouth blue jay helped us fight the accipiter hawk? Chased that guy right out of the oaks, almost knocked that napping sap-sucker from its nest in the poplar, and we didn’t let up til our squawking hawk friend crash landed somewhere inside the big sycamore.
Territorial lines are gone now, I guess.
Not the hummingbirds though. They’re still in it to win it. I’ve never seen hummingbirds willing to share. I’m not sure they even share with their loved ones. That nectar must be something worth fighting for.
It happens every year. The catbirds finish nesting there, and the hummingbirds take over. One guy (the defender) claims the feeder and sets up perch inches away. And waits for interlopers. I can see the bird there right now.
Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, but hummingbird competitions are fun to watch. One zooms in from nowhere for a sip of that intoxicating nectar, and the defender guy moves at light warp speed to intercept. Where do they get those reflexes? All that sugar, I guess. And the fight is on. They fly off after each other, at unbelievable speed. You’ve seen hummingbirds, you know what I mean. Synchronized turns. Timing. And angles that defy aerodynamics. Then the original defender guy returns to its perch.
The roses are fading, and the tomatoes are struggling to redden. But there are warm days left, and the hummingbirds have energy in the tank to fight on. One day soon, one day in September, they’ll leave.
And that … that is the end of summer.
Yesterday morning, I had to take my car in, and I expected to see some traffic, surely, people with essential jobs driving to work. But no, I cruised through green light after green light. Traffic was even lighter than what I see for my weekly grocery trips.
I finally hit a red light, and looked out over the steering wheel to take in the trees along side the road. This was the first day that looked to me like summer. In a split second, it seemed, there was the aura of all we connect to green trees and warm breezes, and summertime. And without even the need to reconfigure my thoughts, an awareness of my evolving expectations of what this summer will be like.
Further down the road, a few people were out and about, individuals, walking or waiting by themselves, in the open air, and almost all of them wore masks. The trend towards wearing a mask even when you’re by yourself in the outdoors seems to be growing.
This is the way life’s been since the beginning of March. With cool weather dragging on into May, a Monday in May can feel like a Wednesday or a Friday in March, as if this spring will go on forever. Facing off with summer, it was like waking up from an afternoon nap feeling unsettled, and realizing you need to pull together enough focus, and enough energy, to make it through the rest of the day.
Photo from 2018