No Matter How Fierce

By all informed assumptions, and my own admittedly grand expectations, today’s high sunny weather and soaring temperatures, coupled with a day off from work and a pool that Andy had the foresight to keep heated, should have been a gorgeous repeat of this past summer’s best days. And while it was a beauty I forgot the wise words of a woman who knows all too well that, “You can never do the same thing twice, no matter how fierce.”

The air is hot and the sun is high in the sky. The sky – not piercing blue, but blue enough – has only the slightest wisps of clouds in it. A breeze rustles the tall plumes of the maiden grass and the spent seed-headed stalks of the cup plant. There is a monarch butterfly momentarily trapped beneath the bright awning, but soon it escapes. The sweet perfume of an Autumn clematis carries around the corner of the house, and I pull the soaring umbrels of a seven sons’ flower closer to my nose, breathing in the not-so-subtle fragrance. “Autumn Joy” sedum provides a last bit of color, and the roses are still hanging on, Knock-outs indeed. For all of this, something is missing, because something is over.

Along with all the beauty that remains, there are signs of the impending winter. The lack of rain has many of the plants and shrubs wilting – the same look after a killing frost, and just as unexpectedly sad. Though the temperatures are in the 80’s, it is apparent that it’s not summer anymore. The grasses have gone to seed – the Northern sea oats, once so fresh and green have ripened into shades of rust and tan. All of the ferns have withered and shriveled in the dry heat, brittle and brown like gnarled old hands clutching rosary beads, and the peonies went all powdery and faded weeks ago.

The garden – like the backyard – is a different place to be. Even reclining on a lawn chair and reading in the heat of the sun is different now, and I shouldn’t have been surprised. It’s the same feeling I get whenever I go back to some place that has held special meaning for me. The site of a cherished friend’s wedding, the hotel lobby that formed a meeting hub for a fantastic vacation, the street where I once held hands with my boyfriend – if ever I revisit them, there is an emptiness there, a disappointing hollowness, and they only end up being a shell of what they once were.

On bad days, it feels like life is nothing more than a sad recreation of everything good that came before, and a rather sorry one at that. Today was not that bad of a day, but when I put something like Summer to bed, I don’t want to be awakened in the middle of the night for a glass of water.

Tomorrow, I am off to Boston…

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