Under summer’s spell
I’m on vacation in northern Michigan now, and I had intended to take a pass on writing for MediaReset.com this month, too.
But my mother and my wife changed my mind.
My mom brought to our vacation spot a copy of an editorial I wrote about 30 years ago while working at The Monroe (MI) Evening News — the paper our family owned at the time.
Mom pulls this piece out every August and makes me — and anyone else nearby — read it again.
This year, my wife was one of those. She read it and said, “You ought to publish this in your blog this month.”
So that’s what I’m doing.
Consider this a month off from reading about the challenges and opportunities of the traditional media. Instead, think of this quick read as a prose poem celebrating the joys of summer (it’s summer in North America right now).
So here goes:
Under summer’s spell
There was a time when summer was magical. If you are old, you remember it. If you are young, you are reveling in it even now.
This magic happens for those between the ages of, say, 6 and 12. Those in the school years, that is — the years before work or college or the onset of worldly responsibilities and cares.
This magic begins on the last day of school. The bells fade into silence, the bus rumbles away down the road for the last time. The ratcheting machinery of time chunks and clunks fitfully for another day or two and then falls still.
At that moment, the future is bliss. Days stretch away uncountable into the vast reaches of summer. Placid, brilliant days of heat and sun and grass and buzzing bugs. Days of promise — of swimming, and playgrounds, and fishing, and fireflies and noisy fun with friends.
In that timeless span, children count days as the Navajo once did — as a cycle endlessly repeated. It is the same loop over and over, not moving forward down some relentless calendar, but just always now.
Until the county fair approaches. It looms ahead, but how far? Eagerness tricks children into counting the days until at last the time is here.
And then, almost immediately, it’s gone. But mysteriously, unbidden, the steady beats of time continue. The slow surge of summer, once seamless, now comes in units of daylight and night, like spans of pavement on the highway. And these seams thump by with gathering speed.
Summer is ending. In mid-August, it can no longer be denied. The shop windows show school clothes and notebooks, and they cannot be ignored.
Mostly the little girls admire them and think of seeing friends. But mostly the little boys try to look away and hope it will never be necessary to sit at a desk again.
And in the air, at night, there is a telltale tinge of chill. It whispers, “Fall!” Each night it whispers louder. Late-summer heat waves tease, but they can’t stop summer’s wane.
All of this is happening now, this week. And children begin to ask: How many weeks till school? And soon the question is, How many days till school? And then school is here.
For better, for worse, summer has begun its ebb into fall. For children, it is the end of a spell, a gradual awakening. And, after a few short years, adulthood begins to creep in, and that summer magic comes no more.
– 30 –
In September, it’s back to the hard challenges and decisions of our business. But right now, I’m on vacation. I hope you are, too.