My boys are at the park playing baseball, the sky holding off twilight. I haven’t felt the sun on my face yet today, so I go for a walk. It’s cool at 6:30 p.m. on September 22. I pause after a block, on the corner by the brick church, and turn to face the sun.
I decide to walk to the bluffs, to the ocean view that is my birthright, my solace, my children’s best inheritance. I look down from these cliffs on my most familiar stretch of Pacific, standing at the same spot as when I was 16 and searching for my place in the universe, the same spot as my first kiss.
I can tell summer is over by the color fading from the beach. The lifeguard stations are blanched, returning to their pale blue-gray after their gussied-up summer fling. It had to end; the clock struck fall yesterday.
I miss them already, how they added magic to summer afternoons of a neighborhood transplanted to sea level, the exuberant backdrop to boogie boarding and beach baseball and children daring the waves to splash them from behind.
But it’s summer’s job to fade. Fall must come.
I can tell summer is over by the school marquis advertising parent meetings. By the village streets crowded with carpools, the sidewalks bloated with kids and backpacks, scooters and skateboards. By the smoothie shop’s long line at 3:05. p.m. By the teenagers blanketing the Village Green.
And I can tell summer’s over by the sign on our front lawn, announcing “For Sale.” By the question across our children’s faces, unvocalized, “Why?” By their trust in our answer, “Because it’s time.” By the full moon hanging heavy in the sky as I turn toward home. By the fullness of my heart, full of apologies and hope and uncertainty. And full of gratitude: for my children, for my husband, for you; for this day, this evening, the full moon; for the sounds of my grandmother’s voice on the phone and the sweet singing reverberating on bathtub tiles as I walk through the front door, and for what the new season may offer.