Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Late Summer Morning's Prayer

It seems inconceivable to me - well almost I suppose - that by week's end we will have reached the halfway point of August. These past couple of days here in Levelland it has certainly felt as if summer is in full force and effect - as if the external thermostat for this part of the planet was set to "Blast Furnace" moments before some bastard broke off its dial.

But the pull of autumn is fast approaching. Sitting outside in my sister's backyard Saturday night it struck me that it was too dark to see without the assistance of artificial lighting shortly after we passed the 8:00 o'clock hour. Three weeks ago it seemed as if there was anywhere from forty-five to sixty minutes more of usable daylight than there is presently.

And you can confirm it yourself in the newspaper every morning if you are so inclined. A quick glance at the table that tracks sunrise and sunset will reveal that we are indeed moving towards September with a daily sunrise one minute or so later than its predecessor and a sunset a minute or so sooner every day.

Neither of my kids is a "child" any longer. While Suzanne marches on in pursuit of a Master's Degree that is wholly and absolutely beyond this old man's intellectual ability to comprehend, she is no longer the target audience of the back-to-school sale. As a school-age child a lifetime ago, those inserts in the Sunday newspaper were the bane of my existence. Every store under the sun has some type of gimmick tied into separating you - the parent - from your money with as much ease and enthusiasm as the school bus separates your child from you on Opening Day. And yet, we the parents seem nonplussed by the frontal assault on our wallets. To a certain degree - perhaps more than we would care to admit - we look forward to the school year, to structure being returned to the fore for Junior and Little Miss Can't Be Wrong. I have no recollection of ever surfing up and down the aisles of an office supply store singing - and as long as my kids can not unearth video to the contrary - I shall always deny done so....although I can think of one father who embraced the moment with unbridled enthusiasm.

This has been an exceptionally trying summer for Margaret and for her entire family. While this is usually the time of year she savors the most - squeezing every bit of every moment out of it- this year it has been a season of profound sadness. While battling hard, and now having I hope more good days than bad, this summer has been defined by the death of Suzy B., Margaret's mom and her best friend. There have been happy events throughout the summer - Megan & Adam's wedding in late June and our Western adventure last month jump immediately to the forefront of my mind - but the dominant theme of this season has been sorrow. And once cast in that manner, it shall never be recast.

And I know better than to ask other than to myself, "where has this summer gone?" because I know that for Margaret and for Joe and for Frank and the rest of the family the answer is, "straight to Hell." And I know without needing to discuss the subject with her that Margaret is doing this summer something she has never done in all the years I have known her, which is looking forward to the summer's end.

Usually it is the vitality of warm weather and nourishing sunshine to which she looks forward. Not this year. This year it is the bracing of cool autumn winds and the colors that ride along with them in which she has placed what is left of her faith. And we aim towards September with more than a small amount of trepidation for I know not how much more water Margaret can absorb pouring over her bow but I suspect it is not very much. Not very much more at all.

Wayfarers or not, this summer's out of reach. And maybe that is not such a bad thing. At least not this year.


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