summer’s last call
the lemonade is drained. the calendars, dragged to the table. it’s time for check, cross-check, triple cross-check. aligning the dates and the schools. aligning my life. getting over the hump called back to the classroom.
i thought it was over. thought the days of butterflies in late august were a thing of the past. thought i put them away the very last minute i worried about GPA and exams and who would be in my homeroom.
it comes back. in duplicate at my house. triplicate or beyond at others. with each kid, comes a whole herd of butterflies. theirs and mine.
this year i’ve got one worried if he’ll find his way through a campus that holds nearly a fourth of the alphabet, buildings A through F, far as we know. plus a few side shows.
the other one, the little one, is worried about putting pencil to fist and free-forming those very same letters. the B gets too wobbly, even for his taste. comes out looking like P with a goiter. a really big one, or one that’s too little, more like the lead took a detour.
the brand new packs of markers and notebooks are tossed in a bag in the pantry. soon as i dig through the pile of papers that came over the weekend, in fat envelopes that shouted OFFICIAL, that gave me the willies, they did, i’ll know how to plot my way through these woods. know what to buy. where to be. oh, and when. it helps, i have learned, to be there on time. oh, the rules.
the only way through the maze that is right here upon us, is with tri-colored markers, and calendars splayed all over the table. i feel like some general, lining up troops. only, mostly i feel lost in the desert.
i am not ready to go back to school. not ready to give up the long evenings, the lazy strolls under stars. not ready to hang up hanging up dripping wet suits, when the boys come in from the pool, smelling like chlorine, looking all wrinkled.
today, at our house, is summer’s last call. on the morrow, the alarms will be clanging, the buses will roll to the corner. high school will start, and right behind, all the rest of the schools.
summer, tomorrow, is over.
so today is the day we pack in every last bit of the summer. we slept later than late. we awoke knowing day after this, at this late morning hour, one of us would already be in world history, diving in to ancient civilization. or maybe just trying to find the lost classroom.
as i type, fresh hot scones are out on the table. the other grownup around here took the week off, a major concession to summer’s end, and the need for four hands to get us up over the hump. he’s got a day packed with fun, one last blast of all that makes june, july and a good chunk of august worth sticking around for.
and we’ll end, we’ll wind up the day and the summer’s vacation, as we always do, at a joint that sells burgers and oniony rings. a whole loaf of ’em.
makes your tummy squirm sometimes. but then at least one of the tummies ’round here is already doing that. might as well gulp down the onions to feed all the butterflies.
before i wave summer goodbye, before i turn the page on this long stretch of lazy old days, i might quell the flutters with the litany of all that’s been rich:
the melons so sweet i licked down my chin, the sound of the crickets that lulled me to sleep, the cicadas that came from some faraway planet. the night that i slept on the root in the woods, and counted the hours till morning. the pages of books that told me fine stories, took me to places i’d never imagined. the real-thing tomatoes that i cannot stop eating. just some salt and some pepper, i’m set for a meal. the delphinium i bought, once again seduced by that blue beyond blue, then watched it all shrivel away. the baby bird that took to the breeze. the camper i plucked from the woods. summer rains, soft and soaking, or, some afternoons, rambunctious and streaked full of lightning.
good thing, i think, that real summer is not over yet. just the part that feels the most like it. the part that ends with the school bell. which rings, now, in less than 24 hours.
what parts of summer will you carry into the school year? which moments are you not yet ready to whisper goodbye to? anyone else suffering back-to-school butterflies? do you have a sure cure? or at least a good dose of wisdom?