Summer Scum, and Summers Go


Summer Scum, and Summers Go

“The Outsidah”
Ipswich Chronicle 9/20/12

Summer Scum, and Summers Go
Doug Brendel

An acquaintance of mine, not long ago, was howling — well, to be honest, you can’t quite tell on Facebook whether someone is howling, growling, wailing, whining, screaming, roaring, or simply muttering; but it seemed to me she was unhappy.
It was the thick of summer — at least it seemed this way to me: soupy humidity sliming my skin, sunshine sizzling on your eyeballs, even the mosquitoes moaning in the heat.
But my friend was bemoaning the end of summer.
The shadows, she claimed, were lengthening sooner, and depressing her. The days, she observed, were getting shorter, and she was feeling that stomach-clutching sadness that grabs you when you realize something bad and inevitable is closing in on you.
On the other hand, this was August. Puh-leeze! Yes, technically, I guess, the days start getting shorter in the third week of June, but come on. A neighbor’s plastic lawn chairs were melting. My asphalt driveway was gooey, gliding like a glacier, in slow motion, toward the sultry street.
What I mean is, it was hot.
And then, by a twist of fate, I observed the closing days of summer with a brief trip to the hottest city in America: Phoenix, Arizona. This is not the right time of year to visit the Great Sonoran Desert, the vast sandbox which Phoenix is plopped down in the middle of. But business required that I be there, so my wife pushed me out of my house, pried my fingers from the door frame, stuffed a sock in my mouth to muffle my screams, strapped me into a seatbelt and shoulder harness, force-fed me a handful of Ambien, took me to Logan, and put me on an airplane. When I stumbled off the jetway and into the familiar expanses of Sky Harbor International Airport — this was my hometown airport for more than two decades — my internal thermometer started clicking insanely, like a Geiger counter. Strangely, the people of Phoenix were all cheery, bright-eyed, rejoicing. Why? Because the temperature had just the day before finally dropped below 100 Fahrenheit. I almost shivered at the news.
Soon, however, I was free to flee, back to dear, chilly New England. Today, I have returned to the safety of my quirky old house, where you can see through the floorboards into my beloved dirt-floor basement, where it’s a constant 69 degrees. I can breathe again. Hope is in sight. This Saturday, September 22, is the official first day of autumn.
Good people of Ipswich, verily I say unto thee, as summer slips away: This is no time for weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is cause for celebration. Fall is why we live in New England. Trees flaring, gorgeous. Pumpkins plumping proudly in the patch. A certain crispness in the air, nicely aligned with a certain crispness in the townies. We set our face like a flint toward the onset of winter. We brace for the frigid, bone-snapping winds, the great globs of slush in the gutter, the moaning of the eaves under punishing mammoth mountains of snow. Salt and sand grinding under your soles into the obstinate ice. Bare trees skinny and spindly, shivering in their sleep.
See what we have to look forward to?
I love this time of year.
Summer 2012, R.I.P. And good riddance.
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