Monday, July 5, 2010

The Day After

The day after the Fourth of July was always a wee tad melancholy for me. The hot dogs, watermelon, firecrackers were over, and the rest of summer promised only broiling heat, steamy canning of garden produce, and the stocking up of shoes and notebooks for the coming school year. The Fourth nudged us and reminded us that not only was the summer now half over but so was the once new year.

This past June’s two weeks of intense heat made summer seem to arrive early. The grass has a crisp, yellowed look at the edges, and the less hearty flowers look limp and weary, falling down over the edges of their pots looking like wrinkled hosiery gathered at a grandmother’s ankles. I went out for a short drive to see if I could find pretty wildflowers. The pretty ones were on roads too dangerous to stop for photos. On country roads nearby, the ditches had been cut or sprayed to kill the unwanted weeds taking the bright wildflowers with them. What was left looked prematurely dry from the heat. I did see some of my favorite Queen Anne’s Lace, pretty and airy like the tatted edge on a great aunt’s hanky. Although considered a weed, I have always loved the way its head waved in a breeze and was a sign of summer just as May Apples were a signal of spring.

I no longer have to worry about school staring in the autumn. I don’t go to class, have to stock up on pencils and rulers for my children now grown, nor do I have to plan bulletin boards or write lesson plans anymore. But old habits are hard to break, and I still feel the Fourth as an indicator time is passing. In retirement I can continue to sit a little longer on the deck over early morning tea as others hustle to gather in the rest of summer like squirrels gathering nuts for winter. I can linger near the rebuilt fountain that DH made for me and listen to the water fall over rocks I have gathered over the years. The rocks are memories I have picked up in riverbeds near the Cimarron River with my boys while their dad fished, on walking trails near the filming of Dances with Wolves in South Dakota, from the edges of a Civil War battlefield, near ancient cliff dwellings, or even snatched up from Robert Frost’s driveway. Each rock is a reminder of a place and time gone by.

This morning I feel that after-the-Fourth-feeling that summer is passing, and like the child I once was, I feel again that slight panic that summer is half over. Even with less chores or responsibilities on my agenda, I still feel the days are precious commodities dissolving away never to be seen again like a frosty ice cube melting under a glaring afternoon sun.


Linda @ A La Carte said...

Beautiful writing. I feel the same about July. I also cannot believe that this year is half over! Love your fountain and your rocks.

Linda O'Connell said...

You completely captured my every mood, and your descriptions are beautiful. I used to let the children dip Queen Anne's lace in paint and make beautiful prints. I was at a store yesterday and I heard the manager say, "Let's get seasonal up for the holidays...he meant Halloween!