A Sure Sign That Summer Has Slipped Away

It’s Labor Day 2011, the last holiday of the season, the day that our focus turns from the embracing warmth of summer and turns toward the fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Sure there will still be a few more days of sunshine and warmth, but all the signs of her parting are there.   For me, none is more telling or heart wrenching than what I saw this morning.

I was so distraught over it that I had to get it off my chest.  So, later in the day, over a cup of that wonderful McDonald’s coffee, I mention to my friend Buddy Bland that summer is over.  Officially over…and it went by so quickly this year too.  Quicker than any summer before.

“Nah,” Buddy says through a sip of Joe, “we still have three weeks before we can officially say fall is here.  Three whole weeks.”

Buddy’s a good guy and is always interested in what I have to say, which is why I like him.  I don’t have the opportunity to be relevant very often.  So I relish moments such as this.

What I saw this morning sealed the deal.  Summer is done.

“What, Mike?  What did you see?  I bet it was the calendar.  You saw that it now reads September instead of August!”

No, no, it wasn’t the calendar thing.  Mostly because I only have one, lonely, calendar in my life and it’s hanging in my work cubicle.  I usually forget to flip it until the month is nearly over and only then because a co-worker does it for me.  Sorry, Buddy, guess again.

Buddy scratches at the three day old stubble that’s formed on his chin and tightens his eyes with thought.  He takes another sip of his drink without dropping his gaze.

“The leaves then.”  He says assuredly.  “They’re turning and you just noticed them today.”  He shoots his finger at me and winks.

No, I’m sorry; it’s not the turning of the leaves either. Quit honestly, if I can ignore the smell of the decay and the pending work ahead, watching these trees change into their fall coats is a spectacular sight in Ohio.  Especially when visiting places like Malabar Farm, Mohican State Park or the covered bridges in Ashtabula County.  Also, my wife loves fall’s splendor, so seeing her smile makes the leaves turning worthwhile.  In case you’re wondering my friend, she smiles during the other seasons as well, but just not as radiantly.

Buddy shakes his head and slams his hand down hard on the table causing me to jump along with a couple nearby patrons.  A look of revelation springs to his face.

“This should have been my first guess.  It’s so obvious now.  Your kids went back to school last week and that has you down”

Excellent guess, for sure, but no.  Sending my children back to school is definitely a traumatic event for me, however, I knew before today that school started.

“That’s right.”  The little smile he displays when he’s right about something drains from his face, “I knew that.  Okay, I give, what did you see this morning?”

What I saw wasn’t one of the traditional warnings that summer has packed her bags and bought a ticket out of here.  What I saw, and I’m glad you’re sitting, because this isn’t going to be easy.  But, you know that little ice cream place on the other side of town?  The only place I can get a German Chocolate flurry?

“Yep, I know it all to well.”

I hate to tell you this, but the sign in the window is up.  You know the one I’m speaking of.  The one that says, “See you next year!”  It’s closed, Buddy!  Summer is done!

Buddy’s eyes seem to glisten.  I think I saw a tear well up.  Maybe some one feels as passionately about summer as I do, someone to mope around with as we count down the days until spring.  And then…

“No more Orange Sherbet?”

Right Buddy.  No more Orange Sherbet.

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