End of a Season
I awoke the other morning to something new (for this summer). It was crisp, a coolness that portended more than just another moderate summer day, one effected by the approach of storm front (we have had many lately). The air hung clean and dry, the coolness a true difference in temperature, not brought on by humidity but a change of season. Despite the fact that we have yet to pass Labor Day, Fall was in the air.
There has also been a dramatic change in the quality of the morning. I had gotten used to the crack of dawn early and the sun poking its head above the horizon before I crawled out of bed. Such is not the case today. It is still before morning nautical twilight when I rise and the rays of light don’t peak through the windows until I am behind the closet door. It has been a subtle change, the inevitable march of the sun dipping lower in the sky, almost imperceptible day by day, but stark over the span of months. Daylight has already retreated to the length of a late April day. Hard to believe it has been two months since the summer solstice.
Although there will still be warm (and even hot) days in the near future, summer has already revealed its parting gestures. There will be a few more “true lake days,” but the feeling that there will be a tomorrow to replace a missed day is fading. It won’t be long before the turn of season takes its course and the lake is replaced by the excitement of a day at Neeland Stadium (Go Vols!).
Change has a binary aspect. Something to look forward to, but also something to lament. I am always a bit melancholy at this time of year. (Barb thinks I can walk around with a little black cloud hanging over my head, like Joe Btfspkl in the Li’l Abner comic, but I prefer the moniker of “realist).
Robert Frost painted it so eloquently in his timeless poem, “Reluctance.” He penned these words: “Ah, when to the heart of man; Was it ever less than a treason; To go with the drift of things; To yield with grace to reason; And bow and accept the end; Of a love or a season.” Exactly.
We are built to savor the present. Whether we are faced with pleasant or tough times, we typically treat the future with a degree of wariness. Can the good last forever? Can the bad get worse? Only God knows and we are but passengers in the journey. Yes, we have free will, but that doesn’t mean we control the time to come.
In many aspects of our lives, we repine the loss of what has gone before. This is particularly true with our children. I just came back from a visit with my grandson (Oh, and my son and his wife too). He has the cutest little laugh (almost a cackle). It is adorable and ephemeral. They have videoed it. (Barb recommended they set it as a ringtone). It will soon be a note fading into the past. I missed far too many of such sounds from my own children (pre-cell phone days).
Every time I pass the Eastman soccer fields, I feel a wisp of nostalgia. We spent many years in practices and tournaments there (mostly fond memories). Those times are lost with only faint remembrances (and far too few photos) to hold in my heart.
We seem to capture our children at a certain stage. It seemed like forever that one of the three kids was in elementary school, then with their transition to middle and high school, time flew by. The next thing I knew, they flew the coop and were off to college. Slowly but with inevitability, the nest emptied (and with it, little chunks of my soul).
Several years ago, I wrote about visiting my son at Virginia Tech for a tailgate weekend. “I turn and look out the passenger side window. My tall lanky boy is walking away with the swagger of youth. I want to say something, to make him turn back, to make this moment last just one bit longer. But then, it passes and he turns the corner. He is headed off to his apartment, but he is also walking off into his future.” I am left with mixed emotion. I am proud. I am forlorn.
Such is life. The seasons turn. We age (in my case “Growing older but not up.”) Life changes. The years ahead shorten as those behind pile up. Eventually, there will not be a tomorrow. (Dang, that sounds mournful. It is not, it’s that “reality” thing again).
I have regrets from the past, but far more happiness. I am sometimes apprehensive of the future, but more and more look forward to what God has in store.