By Laurel Droz
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Sometimes it seems as if Michigan is a state that lives in the crystalized slumber of winter for eons before shaking loose the heaping snowfalls and sighing the warm breath of summer across the landscape. It’s as if we are, all of us, quietly waiting, treading water until June and then—with some collective gasp—we fling ourselves outdoors to drink up the sunshine.
Kids shriek with nothing short of joy as the bus drops them off at home on the last day of school, and from that moment on it’s the strange dueling sensations of yawning, endless swaths of time and never enough hours to do it all.
Dandelions spill across lawns and dragonflies flit past picnic tables. The crack of a baseball bat echoes across a field and lawnmowers fill the void in our ears left by snowblowers that are now slumbering. There’s iced tea and garage sales and grad parties and squirt guns and streaks of watermelon splashes across the faces of the very young and very old alike. The air is sunscreen and bonfires and possibility.
Neighbors greet each other on porches and the sound of music floats through the air alongside fireflies. There’s fireworks and parades and American flags. Flip flops and festivals and the breathless feeling that we cannot stay so busy and yet not one single day can be wasted.
There’s the sticky feeling of sweaty skin on a park bench and the cool comfort of aloe on a sunburn. Cars are packed tight for vacations and fat bumble bees hum relentlessly in their insistence that they will never take a day off work.
Face paint and fairs, blankets spread on the hill at Pine Knob (we will always call it that) and toes tucked into sandy beaches.
Summer is endless and all encompassing. Until it isn’t.
At some point the nights lose their stifling heat and a crispness settles into the air. The leaves begin to relinquish their vibrant greens and slide into crimsons and yellows and browns.
Plastic skeletons and paper pumpkins crowd out the styrofoam coolers and tanning oils in the store. Notebooks and backpack and crayons flood the aisles. Teacher assignments are slipped into mailboxes. We have a bedtime again and someone digs out the sweaters from the attic.
And just like that it’s over.
To everything there is a season, and there is wonder in all times on earth, but there is a certain majesty to summer that is hard not to mourn as the trees slide on the autumn finery.
Maybe it’s because we live in a northern state that we are even more aware of its fleeting nature. Maybe it’s because when the snow falls here it falls so hard and fast that it locks us up tight, with only the whisper of memories of time spent sipping lemonade in lawn chairs. Or maybe it’s because at some point we realize we each have a season too, and the summer within us will bow gracefully to our own autumn as grey hairs settle in surely as vermillion leaves.
Whatever the reason, it’s hard not to mourn summer, at least a little, as we return to the more serious business of September. To everything there is a season. It will get cold here soon, as it should. Summer isn’t meant to last forever.
But in the meantime, there are still fireflies left to catch.