And I had a dream, it blows the autumn through my head.
– Dar Williams, “The End of the Summer”
What is it about the end of the summer?
This is how I think of it. This is how it reads, the voice in my head. It’s not the beginning of autumn or halfway to winter. It’s the end of the summer, as though something is being lost, something has been squandered regretfully, things will be missed. And like a Schroëdingerian axiom, this is both true and false at the same time, because not a moment has truly been wasted, not even a Sunday night that I could have been writing, but instead chose to sit by myself outside the Wild Colonial and watch the cars go by while sipping a beer. Maybe even especially not those nights, because those are the nights Joe or Billy or Dennis show up unexpectedly, and engage you in conversations that make a connection. No, nothing truly wasted.
The air changes. The air of hope that is swept in by spring like dust and settles over everything by summer, that really does get lost at the end of the summer, as if autumn were a Swiffer cleaning up any specks of ambition and potential the summer months might leave behind. The atmosphere of possibility evaporates into the lowering temperatures, the exhalations now visible in the ether of a dying world.
I know what’s to come. I know the hibernation well. I tend to stay in more, holing up in my room. Given how much I love seeing people in the summer, one would think it was simply giving in to the despair of the winter that I spend more time alone, but this isn’t the case. It’s merely a reacquaintance with myself, a burgeoning desire to reconnect with my own thoughts and to learn to be okay with the me I am, and to begin planning how I’ll try to burn that me down before spring. Plans will be made, fires lit, and I won’t always succeed, but I will try to move forward.
Autumn is like a fireplace for the soul, a place to take the hard, stubborn wood of who we are and slowly burn it to ash. Winter comes along to make sure we can sleep like a caterpillar, ready for rebirth as something new in the spring.
Summer is just for living, and it’s the end of the summer.