The fall night insects have been singing for three weeks now. The sun is dropping lower as it makes its journey across the sky, and my tomatoes are not getting their full ripening blast of summer sunshine. Dry leaves are dropping from the trees in advance of the real autumn leaf drop, and the air has that tang of fall with its cooler nights. Labor Day Weekend and the Goshen Fair always start the fall season with gusto.
But I am just not ready yet to let summer go. Color is still in the blooms at the Topsmead cottage gardens. The bees are buzzing happily in the butterfly garden. The sun still warms folks as they enjoy their picnics on blankets spread out at the top of Underhill. Docent tours are still being offered the second and fourth Sundays of September.
Just as Miss Edith was a faithful reader of the Wall Street Journal, I am a faithful reader of “The Morning,” my daily email from the New York Times. This morning, I read words that were music to my ears: “Why must there be such an austere demarcation between before Labor Day and after, between summer and not-summer, between enjoying our lives and enduring them?” My sentiments exactly!
When not-summer arrived, yes, Miss Edith was at the ready to help out with Topsmead’s harvest season. According to Bob Orintas, her chauffeur’s son, she would occasionally drive the hay wagon if needed. (With her keen sense of investment, she had expanded Topsmead to over 500 acres from her father’s original 17-acre gift, making it a self-sustaining working farm.) And yes, my teaching and volunteer commitments ramp up after Labor Day as well, even though I am officially retired from full-time teaching.
But surely, we can ease into the time demands of not-summer. The journalist in my NYT “The Morning” email issued a challenge that I will repeat here: “I challenge you, this year, to own every last day until the equinox (September 23 at 2:49 am Eastern in the Northern Hemisphere).” At that time, night and day will be about equal in length, after which we will have increasingly less daylight to get our chores done. Knowing that shorter days are coming is enough to put anyone in a tizzy.
But accepting the challenge will give us the weeks leading up to the equinox to integrate our more relaxed summer attitudes into our more frenzied fall selves. Then we will be ready to take on our not-summer lives with grace and ease. Surely, Miss Edith would approve.