Sunday, August 07, 2016
Change Is In the Air
After a spate of hot summer days when the humidity hung in the air like steam, there came a storm riding on a rush of wind. Rain fell in torrents. Lightning exploded, and crashing in its wake, thunder boomed and rolled away across a greenish-purple sky. After the storm, there was a new coolness to the air.
The seasons are in transition now; summer is on the wane. The sun sets earlier and rises later. Evenings are cool and at dawn the August mists hang in the valleys like gossamer veils. By mid-morning the sun has warmed the air and summer seems still here but come evening again, the breeze whispers among the trees and the heat flees before it. In the deep grasses the crickets sing, “Too soon, too soon.”
The swallows born a few months ago are flocking. They line the telephone wires and give aerial performances in the late afternoon. The sun is warm then, and hazy, and the air shimmers with incandescent light. The swallows’ wings are transparent as they swoop and dive and soar. It is the best time of day to sink down into the warm, flowered meadow grass amid the Queen Anne’s lace and the cornflowers, the feathery, wild purple asters and goldenrod, a time to watch the birds play, and dream autumn dreams.
There is a freshness to this seasonal shift—not the sprightly, springy newness that tumbles in with spring, but rather a snap to the air and a feeling of bustle, a sort of counterpoint to summer’s somnolence. It’s harvest time. Bins in the fresh air markets overflow with vegetables. Gardens are multicolored—scarlet tomatoes and yellow- skinned squash, deep green peppers, and onions the color of washed pearls. Orangey pumpkins peep from beneath dusty green leaves and pale yellow kernels emerge at the peeling back of the corn’s husk. It is a time of bounty, a time of storing up against the lean winter months ahead.
The individualities of summer and autumn meld in August. Fall flowers have a spicy scent that mingles with the sweetness of mid-summer blooms, and their colors intensify. Lavender becomes purple, pink deepens to mauve, pale yellow is burnished to gleaming gold. Leaves once the color of emeralds in the sun show promise now of autumn hues – vibrant red, vivid orange, glowing yellow. The birdsong, so lavish and loud in the early spring, mellows to sleepy tootles in the afternoon and flocks of birds freefall and tumble through the air, alight in the treetops for a moment of respite, then fling themselves into the air again. With the lengthening of twilight comes a deep hush, a stilling of wind and sound, until you can hear the earth breathe as it turns.
Over and over and over the seasons change, as predictable as the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon. Yet with each shift, what was new becomes old, what is old fades away, and what dies is renewed. Life is transformation, transmutation, metamorphosis. It teaches savoring and letting go slowly, and appreciation in the midst of mourning. This summer’s flowers will fade and fall, this year’s harvest will nourish and sustain, this year’s warmth will withdraw and diminish until nothing is left but a memory. Yet held in that memory is all the promise of summer to come again.