Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shifting Seasons

It's August. I remember Augusts from my childhood as being insufferably hot, suffused with the certain knowledge that school was coming soon. Until I was nine, we had no air conditioning, not even a window unit, and I remember long, hot summer nights spent sweltering on my bed, patting my forehead with cool washcloths that soon became clammy and warm, while the exhaust fan in my room pulled all the hot air through the house in a roar that was the soundtrack of my youth.

Then we got central air, and I was allowed to close my bedroom door during the summer. My mother still has an exhaust fan in my old room. She runs it at the shifts in seasons, spring to summer, summer to fall.

This August in North Carolina we have been blessed by stunning weather. 80s all day some days. Cool mornings. Pleasant, almost cool, evenings. We've turned off the AC during the day for the last four days in a row (not today, though: the humidity snuck back in). Everyone's sleeping just a tiny bit later, now that the sun isn't up before 6. My friends with college-age kids packed them off last week. Earlier this week, my Facebook feed was full of photos of kids going back to school. Lots of firsts—kindergarten, nursery school, first grade. Not us. Not yet.

But this is a first, in a way, for me too: this is the first fall since 2005 that I haven't been starting up a school year myself. My kids aren't starting school again this fall either (though they will be starting at a home daycare in a month or so). Without a transitional moment to mark the season's change, we're lazily sliding into fall, with no lunches to pack, no new gear to acquire, no rush to leave the house in the morning. I'm still working a bit, but my work is mostly flexible and comes in fits and starts. That will change a bit in October, too, but for now I'm enjoying how it feels to glide slowly into fall's gentler light and air.

The boys have acquired a big pile of Lego from a neighbor, which means that most days we settle in for a massive building session.

Sometimes, it's easy. Sometimes, I get frustrated by having to help. At its best, an hour of building leads to hours more of playtime.

While the kids play, I am dreaming of the beach, where we spent two weeks this summer. If I could pick one place to live forever, it would be on a beach. The shifts in tides and sands provide enough change every day that there is always something new to discover: another angle, or shell, or trough of water to play in. No mosquitoes when the sea breeze blows, and the air is always (usually) moving, not settling down with the oppressive weight of Durham's most humid days.

 For now, I have the garden and the butterflies to provide variety and beauty.

And I have collections to gaze at when I want to be gone from the here and now.

Here and now is good, too. Fall is in the air. Even if we don't realize it yet, in our lazy, extended summer.