Frost touched northwestern Minnesota early Thursday morning. Just like that, summer ended. We now watch the forecast closely, tarps at hand to cover late-ripening tomato and pepper plants. Beets and carrots are pulled; soups simmer in stock pots and slow cookers. Yellow squash is blanched and frozen. Spent plants are gathered and thrown atop the compost heap. Soybean fields, vibrantly green weeks ago, turn brown as the growing season ends.
The delicate blues, pinks and lavenders of spring and summer have transitioned to the crimson reds, purples and deep yellows of early autumn. The sun rises notably later each morning. I run at the gym rather than risk a turned-ankle on the road in the half-dawn.
I mourn the passing of summer much as I mourn the passing of winter. Perhaps solitude knows no season. Soon weekend bike rides will transition to snowshoe treks across frozen fields. Soon I will find comfort in the stillness of long winter nights. But now is summer’s end, and I tell you, I will miss the sound of the closing screen door, wind blowing through open windows, birdsong at first light, bees circling blossoms. I will miss the excitement of first sights — first leaves, first flowers, first birds, first goslings, first afternoon thunderstorm, first warm summer night.
Autumn is upon us. I keep my camera with me to capture the changing season. I allow myself to mourn what I have loved as summer transforms into what it will become.
In his poem, “The Geese,” Wendell Berry observed —
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
With love, I abandon myself to what is now. With quiet heart, I give myself to life’s inevitable change.
Berry, Wendell. “The Geese.” Collected Poems of Wendell Berry 1957-1982, 155-156. New York: North Point Press, 1987.