The days are long, but the season is short


‘Childhood and Summer. Both over way too soon.’

Some wit on Facebook said the other day that September was kind of like one big ole Monday. Well, I totally get that. Places to go, people to see, work to do, school to go back to.

But, hey. If September is Monday, then isn’t August Sunday Night? You know what I mean. Summer starts out so full of possibilities and then all of a sudden it’s August, and you’re filled with regret over all the stuff you didn’t have time for. That New Thing you were going to learn (yes, I mean you, bridge.) That project you were going to finish (the Christmas pillow I’ve been needle-pointing my entire adult life). That book you were going to write (or just, um, read).

If August were a book, it would be this one

If August were a book, it would be this one

When it comes right down to it, that unused paddle board in the basement isn’t so different, really, from that pile of math homework that used to confront you accusingly on the dining room table while ‘Sixty Minutes’ ticked away in the living room.

What makes things even worse is when you realize that you actually had the time to do all these things, but just didn’t get around to them — because, well, summer is so long, and you have plenty of time.

Which brings me to childhood. Same deal. It starts out like it’s going to just, well, go on forever. Remember when you could hardly wait to be older? I was ‘almost thirteen’ the second I turned twelve.

That's me, wearing white sandals (of course; it's summer!) with a couple of brothers and a cousin. Back when summer -- and childhood -- went to infinity and beyond.

That’s me, wearing white sandals (of course; it’s summer!) with a couple of brothers and a cousin. Back when summer — and childhood — went to infinity and beyond

And then one day you wake up and not only are you yourself no longer a child, you’ve got one of your own to shepherd into adulthood. And, well, when you’re changing your umpteenth poopy diaper or reciting ‘Goodnight Moon’ (yes, you have it memorized by now) for the zillionth time or answering ‘Why?’ after whiney ‘Why?’ with gritted teeth, you think it will never ever end.

But guess what. It does. Just like that.

This would be the place in the piece where I could get all advice-y and been-there-y and annoyingly know-it-all-y. But I’m not. You get it.

Instead I’ll leave you with this. A picture that feels like it was taken on this very day. Because it was.

The end of another summer. The beginning of another Childhood

September 6. The end of another summer. The beginning of another Childhood

Amagansett, New York. September 2016

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29 thoughts on “The days are long, but the season is short

  1. josypheen

    I tend to set myself easy-to reach goals for things I’d like to do. But then I also have secret goals (that i don’t really admit I’m planning because they’ll be too much BUT if I do any of them I’m sooo proud…)

    This year I set myself three scary summer goals:
    – Crown Mountain
    – Mount Burwell
    – The Lions (another mountain)

    I’ve put those three off for the last two years because they are too hard and beyond my abilities. This year, I figured i’d give them all a go. But I’ll probably end up with jelly legs, wishing I’d set myself more attainable goals.

    Your post makes me think think I should go for them. I mean I don’t want to get to September and realize I put them off for another year!!

    Hopefully this summer you’ll manage to do all the things too! 😀

  2. Now, as soon as July 1st hits I feel like summer is slipping away too quickly! Had a laugh when I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had Goodnight Moon memorized. I can still tell you that it was written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd.

    • Ah yes. My ‘summer nostalgia’ hits even sooner. Like, um, today. Which is the Summer Solstice, and the longest day of the year. I hate to say this, but after today, the days start getting shorter again. (I’m starting to sound like The Dude) At any rate, enjoy the heck out of your summer, dear Jennifer. And I’m so glad someone else has Goodnight Moon on the brain (!) xoxo

  3. Such a lovely post and I totally agree with your analogy of August and September being Sunday night and Monday. The summer goes far to quickly and then as soon as it’s September it feels like it’s practically Christmas. I really enjoyed your post.

  4. drallisonbrown

    As an educator, with summers off, I always have a “to do” list for summer, cause it seems like forever – like an unending stretch of time during which I could learn another language, teach myself guitar, start an investment club (which I did, one summer, ala Beardstown ladies), or any number of overly ambitious activities. Thanks for reminding me how much I despise Sunday evenings 🙂

  5. angelanoelauthor

    Here’s a funny thing–when you wrote you wanted to learn bridge, I assumed you meant BRIDGE POSE in yoga! Then I read the comments and realized I’m an idiot. Of course, actual bridge: a game I can spell, but can’t play, makes way more sense.
    Summer speeds by. I think this is why I like having four seasons. I grew up in California, where we had two seasons: sun and fog. Living in the Midwest helps me mark time, pause for a minute, notice the world moving and changing. It might still speed by, but at least I’m paying a little more attention.
    I love the awesome pictures in your post and the chance to reminisce.

    • First, your ‘bridge’ misunderstanding is hilarious! (I used to do yoga, and sort of remember that pose, tho the ‘sinking into the floor while the instructor says really soothing relaxing things’ pose was more my speed). Second, I ‘get’ your take on the four seasons. So true! Third, I must remember to tell my California Brother about your two seasons/sun and fog remark. Priceless! Fourth, thank you so much for your comment! xo

  6. Things are left undone, and moments slip by before we notice them. But as you allude to so well, it’s those memories we cultivate that we get to live and relive.

  7. Alice – As always, I enjoyed reading your post. Where did August go? The photos are perfect. The photo of kids sitting around the back door, too young to care that August was behind them and unconcerned with such pressing matters as scheduling the delivery of a new refrigerator, is precious. Just perfect.

    As you were all gathered around the storm door, perhaps this is a good time to insert another word from John Prine (from his song, “Storm Windows”).

    “I can hear the wheels of the automobiles
    So far away – just moving along through the drifting snow
    It’s times like these when the temperatures freeze
    I sit alone just looking at the world through a storm window

    And down on the beach – the sandman sleeps
    Time don’t fly – it bounds and leaps
    And a country band that plays for keeps
    They play it so slow”

    • Wow. I just played “Storm Windows” (and bought his album “Souvenirs”). That song is a perfect soundtrack to this post. Thank you so much for introducing me to his music. And, of course, for reading and commenting — and understanding so well what the heck I’m talking about. Always.

    • Gosh! I honestly don’t know. It kind of looks like there might be a furry creature ensconced there. Would not be atypical, and would make the moment even more perfect, if not a bit sweatier (!)

  8. Oh this is very real to me. My Bear started primary school today. Boo hoo! I’m happy that I made the most of summer but it will never e long enough. As you say, time passes so quickly and in a blink of an eye, they are so grown up. I hope you had a good time whilst your daughter visited x Thanks for joining the #weekendblogshare

    • Bear started school!!! That is such a milestone! I’m happy and sad for you at the same time. (You understand) Yes, I had a lovely weekend with my daughter. Though when I look at her (25 years old and about four inches taller than me) I can’t believe she was ever as young as Bear. Thank you for reading and commenting — and, of course, for hosting #weekendblogshare xoxoxo

  9. Very poignant, Alice. The humor is there but a whole lot more – more than the end of summer and not to get too dark, the autumn of our days. May you have many years to remember all your summers.

    • Thanks so much, Judy. This time of year always puts me in an emotional tailspin. It helps to write about it. And it helps even more knowing that readers like you ‘get’ what I mean. Here’s wishing many more happy summers for you, too xoxo

  10. Ruth Meisenheimer

    P. S. You young people must learn to play bridge! We are just about out of players … they keep ‘ leaving the game’ too soon! Just lost one at age 92!

  11. Ruth Meisenheimer

    You started me thinking about Summers past … the summer we moved to Carlyle, went to the swimming pool and observed some of this towns ‘characters’ for the first time. Your Mom and I took adult classes one summer just so we could swim in the deep end of the pool without kids jumping on us or bumping us. Then there were the fun times on the Henry houseboat ‘Sir Launch-a-Lot’. Thanks, Alice!

    • Yes, Mrs. Meisen…er, Ruth! Those were really the best summers. Even though they were hot as you-know-what. Of course when we were kids we didn’t notice, or care. I love thinking about those days. Thanks for reading, and for commenting. And I hope this summer was a good one for you. xoxoxo

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