Late Summer Lament

There’s a certain point in summer when the days fall away quickly, like the last desperate sands draining out of an hourglass.

In early August, the summer—according to the calendar—is barely half over. Yet, just like reaching the halfway point of a one-week holiday, I begin to anticipate the end long before it arrives. Autumn may not begin, officially, until late September, but Labour Day weekend remains for me the psychological transition from summer fun to school toil.

Summer’s wane demands to be noticed. Evenings become cooler and shorter, while mornings become foggier. Tawny browns of early autumn make inroads across the green summer landscape. The afternoon air acquires the faint spice of aging vegetation, and the evening air swells with the symphony of crickets. And, in my rural area, the beginning of the harvest means the steady hum of tractors, as well as the more sinister hum of dislocated insects looking for a winter home.

If I can disregard the relentless approach of winter, I can enjoy this time of year. The weather reaches a perfected state of pleasantness without the insane heat and humidity of July. The early summer plagues of black flies and mosquitoes have disappeared. Most of the outdoor chores have settled into a routine of manageable maintenance.

Yet there’s something about waning summer days that makes me want to rewind the clock a bit. I want to go back to those sultry July days when summer still stretched out before me—before that dramatic flip of the calendar page to August. I want the days to feel like they’ll last forever, with no sign of September on the horizon. I want more time.

I want more time to savour early sunrises and lingering summer sunsets. More time to explore country roads, to happen upon antique markets and produce stands. More afternoons spent in a shady spot with a stack of books. I want more time for life.

Time accelerates in August, highlighting the things not yet done. I’ve yet to put air in my bicycle’s tires, which means I’ve yet to take the first bike ride of the season. I’ve yet to walk barefoot across scorching sand to feel cool water lapping at my feet. I’ve yet to enjoy an outdoor music performance in a leafy park.

In these last days of August, I feel a sense of urgency. If I want to begin fall studies without glancing backwards in regret, I’ll need to cram each remaining hour with summer things. There simply must be time for one more book, one more frosty beer, one more lazy afternoon laughing with friends. Before I immerse myself in disciplined studies, there must be time for one more hike, one more country drive, one more dip in a lake.

Late summer reminds me that time is relentless and finite. Each moment remaining is an opportunity not to be squandered. It’s not just summer That’s slipping away.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.