The precipitous leap from summer to fall always takes me by surprise, never more than this year, when truly summery days were so precious.
The time we spent in Brooklin in late July and early August turned out to be the choicest two weeks of the summer, if sunshine is the measure. On Labor Day weekend we returned to the tiny rented cottage on the shore of Allen Cove, from where I’m writing this post.
Once again, we brought our luck along. We’ve had three stellar days so far, but the signs of seasonal change are everywhere.
Take swimming. The ocean water was warmer this summer than we’ve ever known it to be, but this weekend, its characteristic chill was back. It didn’t stop us from swimming every day, but our dips didn’t last quite as long, and our skin tingled for a full ten minutes when we got out.
Another of our summer vacation rituals is to lounge in the Adirondack rockers on the cottage’s lawn, bathed in the ethereal golden hour glow while we await an 8 p.m. sunset. From our catbird seats it’s a straight shot up the cove to the spot where the summer sun slips out of sight, and its departure paints a broad streak across the sky that lasts another three quarters of an hour.
Now, a mere four weeks later, the sun is much farther west when it drops below the treetops, making for more muted sunsets. The big moment happens a few minutes after 7:00 now, and it’s full dark by 7:40. This weekend we zipped into fleece jackets and wore socks rather than sandals while bearing witness not just to day’s end, but also to summer’s end.
The air smells different, too. Drier, cleaner, saltier, as fall’s cycle of decomposition begins. The sumac are reddening, but the hydrangea varieties that start out white and turn brilliant pink are still in full flower, a consolation of sorts.
The terns who entertained us a month ago with their swift, precise dives into the cove have relocated. Here’s a video, for those who haven’t witnessed their particular dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW83b0WAk8k
We’ve seen only one blue heron so far, when in summer a trio swept low across the water at dusk, searching for a last snack. Is the juvenile now out exploring the big world, like kids heading off to school or college?
As for the songbirds, they’ve either departed or are quietly busy. The woods behind the cottage no longer ring with the echoing trill of the hermit thrush who serenades us in high summer, just like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB0QyShvqAg
Also among the missing are the red-eyed vireo, the golden-crowned kinglet and the multitude of song sparrows. Perhaps they’ve migrated already, maybe they simply no longer need to sing out their needs (for love, for preferred territory) now that the season is turning.
I hope they’ve found both.
Brenda Buchanan brings years of experience as a journalist and a lawyer to her crime fiction. She has published three books featuring Joe Gale, a newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. She is now hard at work on new projects. FMI, go to http://brendabuchananwrites.com