The Ending of Summer

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
–Henry James

Oh Henry, you slay me.  I do love summer, and we have but a month of it left.  I’m not quite sure where the time all went…but my heart is a bit heavy over the fact that summer’s end is near.

Kate will be in high school this fall.  Maybe that’s part of the sorrow in it, I don’t know. On the surface, the whole high school thing doesn’t bother me.  But just below the surface, where the beating of my heart is hidden from view but clearly palpable, I guess I know that my time with her here is fading.  I have four short years left, and one day soon I will turn around and realize it is all over.  All those little things about her will be gone — confined to her bedroom or taken away with her completely; I will look around and there will be nothing but her photographs to remind me.

No more bottles of nail polish scattered around.  No more dirty old bag full of horse hair and muddy riding boots in the kitchen.  No more viola in the hallway…and no music behind her bedroom door.  No more love notes, or doodles or sketches to surprise me. I won’t be able to hear her laugh or watch her silly new dance moves or see her smile.  I won’t be able to look over at her and see her sitting there, long legs unfolded gracefully before her as she reads. And we won’t talk at bedtime anymore, the way we do now.

Most nights, I imagine, I will go to sleep wondering if her day was a good one, or if some creep has broken her precious heart. I will wonder if she’s eating healthy and if she got her juice in the morning (and I will worry for her roommate if not…). And I will wonder if she is tucked in each night…is she safe and is she happy and is she really doing alright? I will just have to trust that she is, and that if not, she will tell me.

I’m not sure how to do that. I’m not sure how a mother trusts and lets her child go…

I do think this is where the sorrow comes from. The ending of another summer is really just an inching closer to the day my heart breaks a little…the day it goes walking off on its own.

Kate 14 NST

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The Ending of Summer

On a September Night

It’s Friday night and I’m sitting here at Ella’s cheer practice.  September evenings are some of the most beautiful evenings here in Virginia.  There is very low humidity and the temperatures are in the 70s.  The trees are just beginning to change colors–just the slightest hints of pink in the maples, claret in the oaks.  It is 6:00, and the sun is falling, yet still spilling it’s warmth on us.  Kate is sitting next to me, braiding her hair while I write.  I love having her here.  I love the quiet between us — I hear simply the breeze through the trees and the sound of nine little girls practicing their cheers in the distance.

The boys are at football practice.  They will come home battered, as usual, and starving, as usual.  We’ll eat barbecued chicken, squash from our zucchini and squash plants, and steak fries.  We probably won’t get more than one or two more squash from those plants this summer…fall is approaching fast.  The tomatoes are still coming, though…I wonder how long they’ll last.  I think we were still getting tomatoes in mid-October last year.

I have a lot of basil to deal with.  I need to make some pesto.  And the “flowers” need serious work.  I tried to leave the coneflowers for the goldfinches — they like the seeds — but I can’t take it any longer.  I need to deadhead them.

And the crepe myrtles need trimming.

And the lavender needs to be dug up.

And the yarrow must be moved.  The coreopsis needs to be trimmed and divided.  There is so much to do I can’t list it all here.  The yard will be Sunday’s project, because Saturday is reserved for football.  David has set the DVR to record the Hokie game, the Texas A&M game, Ohio State and the Notre Dame game.

Will(iam) and Henry both have games in the morning.  This season is different…I think it may be their last season of football — their choice.  (I do not know exactly when it was that they stopped loving me…).  So I watch them play with this little spark of hope that they will want to go on, yet at the same time the heavy realization that this is probably one of the last times I will be cheering on the sidelines as a football mom.  Life does go on, though I can’t imagine a better way to spend my Saturdays (for real).

Tomorrow night we are going to roast weenies in the fire pit out back.  We’ll eat watermelon, and chips and s’mores and drink in the last few sips of summer.

There is a string of clouds that has moved in and blanketed the sun.  People are putting on their sweatshirts to keep out the chill.  The girls are still practicing — orange pompoms rustling, pony tails bobbing, little girls jumping.  In just a few weeks, autumn’s cold air will be nipping at their noses.  With every word that escapes their mouths will come a puff of frosty air; their cheeks will be ruddied and they’ll be bundled in fleece hats and sweatshirts; and the sun will set before supper.

I remember those nights…coming home to a warmly lit house, supper on the stove and a soft, furry puppy whose tail rhythmically thumps the wall in time with the beating of my heart.

This year, it has taken a while, but I think I’m finally looking forward to fall.

On a September Night