The Last Time

Today marks the autumnal equinox and we’ve had a glorious September. Every ushering in of the early fall finds me in a restive state. This year I feel downright restless. I have stayed close to home and spend peaceful hours outside with my old girl, my 16-year-old cat Lizzie, watching her sunbathe. When it’s quiet – no lawnmowers, no electronic sound, we listen to nature. And Mother Earth is loud! The cacophony of crickets and cicadas and their music is mighty. How humbling to know that creatures so small make great noise.

This late summer/early fall I hear them saying to me: “Last time! Last time!” Their refrain fills me with an itchy feeling — it’s time to move on, go put down roots in a quieter cleaner place. The “last time” feeling also makes me think of Lizzie; I wonder is this the last summer we have, the last time we will sit and do nothing in the sunshine. She has days when she mostly sleeps and is low-energy, and then there are days when I find her jumping up on high window sills to watch the birds or the world pass by. It pulls at my heart – we are so fragile and so resilient at the same time. A mass of contradictions.

The clear warm sunny days with turquoise skies also remind me of the last early fall that my mother was still well enough to do things. I traveled to see my parents and we decided to go raspberry picking at a local farm. It must have been a weekday because we were the only ones in the fields, and the rows were situated to provide a wide vista of rolling hills and low mountains. I stood up from picking and looked at the view: my mother and father intent on their task. I knew that that would be our last time. The last time of normal fun activity — our remaining times revolved around sick rooms and hospitals.

I was corresponding with my friend MK who traveled by car cross country to return to college in California. He took his time and had the “experience.” His photographs are a beautiful travelogue. I shared my wanderlust feeling with him, and my science friend wrote this: “I believe everything will work out fine. I trust the universe, and its mechanisms. Ever since my move to the US it has always been by my side, bringing me one success/accomplishment/acquaintance after the other, and you are one of them. The one thing I do to make sure this rhythm stays in motion is wake up and take a few seconds to be grateful: for my feet that get me out of bed, hands that prepare my food, eyes that see, family, roof that houses me, etc.”

Well put. Here’s to a benevolent universe and to last times — and first times.

Clare

Summertime & Driving Barefoot

Old Tracker July 2016

Old Tracker July 2016

There’s that end of summer feeling in the air. The sounds and colors have adjusted themselves, the birds are quieter, and the green of the trees is less intense — a little faded. I hear more crickets, cicadas and katydids than birdsong. I discovered a beautiful green grasshopper on my porch yesterday afternoon. Soon I’ll have a cricket in the house; they always manage to sneak in. I love this time; I appreciate more the preciousness of each sunny day and clear blue sky.

Black-eyed Susans 2016

You can sense the fleetingness of it — that it’s nearly over. It’s getting darker earlier. We had a glorious orange moon last week — a harbinger of autumn’s harvest moon. I know there is still summer left, and with a little luck we’ll enjoy an Indian summer well into September and October. The vibe has changed too.

You see more kids around, families are back from vacation, and the school supplies are bursting off the store shelves.

I relish the flowers of late summer: black-eyed Susans, dahlias, phlox, and asters. It’s been a banner summer for roses, which were earlier in the season, and lately for hibiscus the largest I have ever seen. They are the size of Frisbees! I’ve seen some wild flowers

Arctic Poppies

I haven’t seen in ages: lady slippers, blue bells, foxglove, oxeye daisies, honeysuckle.

I was talking to a friend of mine who lives in Greenland and she sent me a photo of Arctic Poppies — I didn’t know there was such a variety and they grow wild there.

As the cooler air approaches and sandals and flip flops are no longer practical I am really going to miss driving barefoot. This used to make my father crazy. My mother did it, and then with each female of the family acquiring her driver’s license the magnetic attraction of feeling the metal of the pedal was too great to resist.

Bluebells & rustic chapel 2016

I’ve noticed over the years that a few of my women friends do it too. Maybe everyone does it, I don’t know, but often they sheepishly admit to it. Why, I wonder. But once everyone cops to it, it’s like we all know the secret handshake — our little club.

Driving barefoot, and going barefoot is a part of summertime, the tactical sensual pleasure of feeling things under your feet — the gas or brake pedal, the clutch, cool grass, the sand.As children we went barefoot all the time, nothing bad ever happened. I guess we were lucky. It was nice being free of shoes, it was another layer of the structured part of the year that we could shed.

Sunrise on Lake Placid 2016

Sunrise on Lake Placid 2016

The end of summer makes me nostalgic for past summers, joyful, carefree times. As the season rolls up I would like to think that we can put a drop of summer in our pockets and carry it with us through the ensuing seasons.

Clare Irwin

P.S. Zinnias, and Nepeta (catmint) — banner year for them as well….