Keeping the Beast at Bay

August 20, 2010 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

The wisps of summer’s demise are curling at the edges of my vision. The end of August is like days and days of Sundays. Sundays in my life have always had a bittersweet quality. They are technically part of the weekend but the imminence of Monday, of work and school and daily life, clouds them, makes them feel heavy. That’s what my days have been like, Sunday-esque. It’s still summer, sure it is. I can tell because there are still children in their yards at ten, playing elaborate cops and robbers, celebrating the kind of play that only happens, only gets really good right before bedtime. I can tell because it is a Friday morning and Bella is here with us, in her pajamas, not down the highway, in a circle at her elementary school. I can tell because we have the windows open.

But things keep arriving in the mail that describe school regulations, drop off times and pick-up rituals, and I feel one of my hairs turn grey. Xi starts second grade this year at a local Montessori after seven years of home school. We are to attend meet and greet bar-b-ques and shop for erasers. Oh my, that doesn’t feel like summer. And the Virginia Creeper leaves are turning red. I hate that vine. It’s beautiful of course, and covers the chain link fence we share with our neighbor quite well, but dang it if it doesn’t turn before I am ready every stinking year. And then there are bills. Bills don’t feel like summer. When it’s true summer you toss the bills into a pile to deal with later, when the river isn’t calling, when you aren’t washing the dishes at eleven-thirty because you dined at ten. Bills mean real life, not summer life. Bills mean fall and buckling down and storing nuts for the long winter.

Yeah, nuts.

Denial helps. Playgroups that last into evening are an effective remedy. Sitting in the shade and discussing love lives, baby sleep habits, and food, while the babes loll about, spread out towels, and play house is enough to keep shady, fall-like thoughts from entering my mind. Retreats to the home of surrogate parents help. Mosquitos thick as soup, a babbling river, pizza that magically stretches to feed sixteen, and daughters asleep in the back seat paint a scene that could only belong to summer, to heat, pleasure, and timelessness.

But by nightfall I put on a sweatshirt. Instead of spreading my sweaty limbs to increase exposure to the night breeze, I slip on a raggedy blue hoodie that no longer zips. I curl next to Nathan, seeking shared warmth to ward off the night chill. That doesn’t feel like summer. And when, right before bed, we discuss the tasks that face us the following day we speak less of bodies of water, less of watermelon and popsicles, and more of appointments, to-do lists, and business.

It’s never wise to do such things before bed. Between my last pee and the pillow I try to shake these concerns, to lull myself back into summer thoughts, to at least cling to the season in my dreams. I’ve been dreaming of horses, that my sister had a baby boy and named him Akash, that I rode my dad on the handlebars of a rickety mountain bike.

Soon we will wake to an alarm and don more clothes than seems feasible, but until then I will swing from the last strands of summer. For a few more days at least I will wake to the sound of a child crowing not a travel clock. And I’ll put on a dress today. Perhaps I will defiantly wear skirts through September, watching as my tan turns to goose bumps. After all, I don’t have to go down without a fight.


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