Ode to a Genevan's Summer Yearn
Or put more colloquially, it ain't cool when it starts getting cool.
It happens to me every summer. With the mercury’s frequent ascent to triple-digit dimensions this round, I was exceptionally prone to that sloughing off summer syndrome.
Runners know how it goes. You’re out at 6 a.m. on a July morning when, despite your best effort to beat the heat, the second they touch that shimmering asphalt your shoes stick fast like a saber tooth cat snared in the La Brea Tar Pits.
So you stand there shaking your fist at the snickering sun while shouting, “Just wait, old man! In a couple of months you’ll get yours!” Finally pulling yourself free, you recite that infamous mantra, “There’s no time like fall; there’s no time like fall … ”
And the fact those irksome miscreants will be sentenced to a stark classroom by then only reinforces your misguided delusions. Ah, fall! The mere thought becomes something akin to a faultless fantasy lover who’s inevitable arrival will surely take you away from all of this.
But then the old man actually shows up. Borne on the back of a howling northwest zephyr, he mercilessly sends nocturnal temperatures plummeting into the 30s while herding those scurrilous stratus clouds before him.
I hate all-day rains.
Feeling like you just fell prey to a mendacious online dating Lothario, you suddenly stammer, “Wait a minute! This isn’t what I bargained for!” But like a wizard conjuring up an intractable demon, it’s too late to turn back now.
So you can only wail and lament the tragic fate that you yourself summoned down upon this hapless planet without as much as a second thought. And shrieking “Why me?” will only get you so far.
So you head out on that first crisp 40-degree morning only to rediscover that, while your heart rate might be a bit lower, it takes half of the five-mile run just to warm up those quads. Suddenly those formerly hideous 80 degree mornings become your flight of fancy.
So you shout, “Where the heck are you?” to that shrinking yellow star, but he only smirks as he fades behind the trappings of yet another approaching cold front.
Then there’s the breathing—or lack of it. My asthma symptoms, which vanish as June so seductively beckons, return in force as soon as that first falling leaf alights upon the quivering grass.
To put it more succinctly, autumn allergies suck.
And just to make those respiration matters worse, with the domicile’s hatches firmly battened, the monster in the basement belches flame once again sending all matter of canine fur flying through inner space immediately inciting the kind of fitful sneezing that makes that gleeful northwest wind jealous.
Even that giddy academic anticipation turns to abject horror the second your youngest progeny issues that first middle school induced sniffle. Then you can only watch as your family succumbs one by one like ill-fated French peasants before the rising bubonic plague tide.
Add insult to injury, that cowardly sun starts slinking lower in the firmament until the darkness reigns supreme one more time. Should anyone dare utter that vituperative “Spring forward, fall back” saw in my presence, I will immediately resort to hideous teeth gnashing and uncontrollable fits of weeping.
Then I’ll whack ‘em upside the head.
And just when you think you’ve made it to Kubler-Ross’s fifth step and you’re ready to accept your sad seasonal fate, as if to taunt you, The River plays the best summer’s end song ever written, Boys of Summer, by Don Henley (sorry, Simon and Garfunkel):
Nobody on the road
Nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air
The summer's out of reach
Empty lake, empty streets
The sun goes down alone
I'm driving by your house
Though I know you're not home
The mere act of typing those lyrics elicits all kinds of goose bumps.
I’m sorry I dissed you, my beloved summer season—I swear, I didn’t mean any of it. I promise I’ll never do it again. Just give me one more chance. That thing with fall? It was just a fling. It meant nothing. You know you’re my one true love.
I miss your warm embrace, your powerful but brief maelstroms, your endless days, your warm southern breeze caresses, the scent of a simmering charcoal grill, life’s slower pace, the sound of children playing in the street.
Please come back. I promise I’ll treat you right this time.
And she will return – but only briefly. Sadly, Indian summer is just an illusion that slips through your fingers faster than the grains of sand on closed beach. “I’ll come back” she coyly whispers—“in time.”
And I swear I won’t ever take her for granted again, until next year.