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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, September 07, 2019 1:00 am

Moments of summer

Season slipping away best remembered in a series of fleeting glimpses

Jason Beer

Well, we've reached the end of summer.

I've seen the postings and have heard the condolences: last weekend at the lake, final day trip to Michigan's beaches, bottom of the bag charcoal briquets, curtains at Parkview Field.

I, too, lament the passing of the season.

How easy it is to recall the enthusiastic and well-intentioned Memorial Day promises for the seemingly endless season ahead. Yet it isn't endless, of course. There were 99 calendar days between Memorial and Labor days this year (counting the latter).

Annie Dillard, in her memoir and guidebook “The Writing Life,” said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Occasionally, I fool myself into thinking a week is an abundance of time. But then I start scheduling meetings and meals and taking this kid there and sneaking in a run here and getting up early to grade then and it becomes clear I only have two hours on Thursday night.

My 10,000 minutes quickly became a hundred – if that – depending on the week.

I shared that Dillard quote with a friend, and he said I needed to be careful with it. That not all days and weeks are equal, different seasons make for different requests of our time, energy, etc.

I guess that's true. But then my grandfather told me that it's easy to gain two pounds a year, which doesn't seem like much for a year. But after 20 years, that can become a lot of two pounds.

How we spend our days is how we spend our weeks, our seasons. Henry David Thoreau saw each day as a representation of an entire year: the blue-black darkness and nebulous grey being winter, the sunup morning excitement spring and so on until you reached fall with the evening sunset. All four seasons in a day (which can literally be true in Indiana on occasion).

Over the past few years, I've come to realize there is a day when the previous season crystalizes.

For summer, it comes when it's decidedly autumn, early to mid-October. By then I've gained the distance to see it for what it was.

Those 99 days will then be symbolized as a seemingly trivial afternoon spent with my son eating hot dogs while watching cars on Washington Boulevard or that sliver of beach we found around the bend at Sleeping Bear when the crowds went home. It'll be the picnic we culled from refrigerator remnants the day after school got out or the bike ride from Johnny Appleseed to Tilman and back.

Summer will have been just one or two mementos that at the time seemed like nothing to write home about. When we were busy spending our days as days, making a life in the moments we had.

Jason Beer teaches English at Homestead High School.