so long summer … well, not quite yet

Lake Michigan sunset
Labor Day 2014: The air is warm and moist, with just enough occasional breeze to slightly stir my American flag. The undercurrent sounds of crickets, birds and a train whistle remind me I’m not working. But tomorrow I will be. That’s how Labor Day works.
Remarkably, the window of summer has already begun to close. How quickly it has come and gone. Feels like yesterday I put up the flag, Fourth of July morning, when summer seemed broad and long. Now it’s narrowed and short, only so many mornings like this left. Only so many more sunsets on Lake Michigan. There are never enough.
But what a sweet summer it’s been! So many glorious days. For some it’s been: “Hot enough for ya?” “No it’s not as a matter of fact!” But for me it’s been perfect, a welcome abundance of mid-70s days and cool nights, and a surprising scarcity of sodden, muggy, sun-blistered afternoons. It’s been a summer of going outdoors and not wanting to come inside when the street lights come on. Boyhood revisited.
Thanks be to God for the glory that has been: Watching the stars come out over Crystal Lake. Holding hands with Andrea on long walks. Playing Frisbee in the Big Lake with old friend Gary. Watching the Tigers win behind from home plate with old friend John. Taking early evening bike rides through Millennium Park. Ordering up an ice cream cone, Mackinac Island Fudge, sugar cone single-dip please. Sitting on this porch reading the morning paper with good strong coffee.
All without leaving Michigan. What a beautiful place to celebrate summer.
But then came the quickening signs of fall. High school cross country runners loping past on city sidewalks, or high school football players crunching helmets on Union field. Time to start thinking about fixing the porch steps before another winter of ice build-up. Time to start planning out those projects at work. Long meetings.
It is Labor Day, after all. This means labor restarts in earnest tomorrow. Not if you’re a roofer or a farmer or a highway builder. But if you work with your head, it’s time to seriously start using it again. Summer has given you its peace and quiet and blissful walks along the shore in bare feet. Your footprints have long since washed away, and you may have seen your last sunset sinking into the big water.
It’s OK to miss it already. It’s just the rhythm of the great world turning round. It will all be back soon enough, calling you to the water and the sky and the lazy languid days.
I’m not quite ready to say goodbye, though. Just for this Labor Day, at least, summer is still here, sweet and moist with the slightest of breezes.

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