This is the hybrid time. Changes of seasons always carry what is passing and what is emerging, but that edge between summer and fall is the one that makes me feel out of sorts.
As I write, three weeks of August have passed. One of my activities this week has been a trip to Wilson’s Orchard (not my first of the season!). While apple picking inspires images of colorful, crisp leaves and cool evenings, I was skimming the trees in ninety-degree heat. I felt more like taking off my sweat-soaked shirt than putting on a jacket to keep me warm. I was on the hunt for the first truly magnificent apple of the year — Ginger Gold — even though I had already consumed a good number of early-season Pristines from Wilson’s. By the time most people’s minds turn to a nice fall afternoon in the orchard in mid-September, Wilson’s open season is half over.
Classes start next week as I write, for our local university and community college as well as for our community’s public schools. I’ve spent much of this weekend polishing up my syllabus and trying to figure out how to post it to the new online course management system (aargh!). But as teachers and students return to their “fall” classrooms, the cacophony of cicada buzz and the mustiness of humidity will still be there to greet us as we leave the halls of learning.
There are hints and edges of yellow and red on trees and bushes here and there, and many of our garden flowers are looking a bit exhausted and sallow, but the land is still heavy with moisture and green. The corn and soybeans along the county roads are yet in their full glory of growth, but the local news is reporting harvest predictions. Labor Day is approaching — there’s still time for some cookouts and a few swims in the Rez — but the light is waning earlier, and there is school on Monday.
Although I enjoy winter, I am happy to see it give way to the burst of spring. And, in the end, spring is for me really the prelude to summer. In my adult life, I of course still work full-time during the summer. Our children are college-age, so they are not very dependent on family activities for summer fun. But the rhythms of work and life still slow down for me in the hot months, and of course the long light suggests there’s plenty of time to enjoy these days of fair weather.
What I really still carry with me during the summer is a vestigial childhood attitude of endless freedom spreading before me, even though my life and awareness are not really construed that way. Even though autumn is — and always has been — my favorite season, it’s hard to let go of the heat and light of the possibilities that summer offers. I am looking forward to the fire of leaf color, the snap of a north wind and the smokiness of early dusk. Yet I cannot help regretting the passage of the season when the earth is at its fullest and when responsibilities at least seem to be at their ebb.
So here we are in this hybrid time, this “twilight zone” when summer’s presence is still palpable and autumn’s insistence is undeniable. I’ll probably always find this time a bit disconcerting, but the better angels of my nature (and of nature itself) tell me that this is also a time to live in the now. The “hybrid time” is really a time of its very own, not a limbo of a waning past and waxing future. It is now, late August and early September, full of its own signs and wonders. It is a time of its own temperatures, colors and happenings. That’s where and when I need to be, as I need to remember is the case on every day throughout the year.
Thomas Dean is enjoying both watermelon and apples at the same time and trying not to worry too much about it. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 205.