Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Ending of Summer

When I was a child, the summer seemed endless, beginning officially on Memorial Day, and continuing through at least mid-September. September certainly seemed as hot as July sitting in un-air conditioned classrooms all day. Now, however, I know that summer is effectively ended by the Fourth of July, when school supplies go on sale everywhere. Classes actually start on August 15 here, and a little earlier in nearby counties. In May and June, I was awakened each morning by an incredibly LOUD chorus of birds. Yes, the window was open, but they began singing by 5:00 every day. Why would a bird feel compelled to defend its nesting territory when it's too dark for any invader to be a risk? After the Summer Solstice, I notice that the chorus is down to a few faithful singers - my Carolina wren, some robins, and maybe a song sparrow. The loud chorus is now made of cicadas, morning, noon and night. On a hike at the Falls of the Ohio last Saturday, we noticed a generous layer of cottonwood leaves on the trail. The sycamore leaves are starting to fall too, and it smells like autumn when you stand under them. I even saw a V of Canadian geese flying across downtown one morning this week. Many geese seem to spend the entire year along the Ohio Valley. They certainly breed here. So it's hard to say whether flocks of geese are actually migrating, or just going to greener pastures for grazing. But the sound of honkers in the sky always sounds like autumn to me. My children (now ages 22 and 25) have even remarked on how short the summers are now. I guess that's just part of growing up. Or is it growing old? It's a good thing Autumn is my favorite season, isn't it?

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