Summer’s End

A squirrel scurried beneath the branches of the oak tree, foraging for the last acorn. The squirrels seemed unusually active this fall, portending, according to the wisdom of a local farmer, a cold winter.

Next to the tennis court the patch of sunflowers stood forlorn, their color faded, petals flaking off in the breeze. It seemed only days ago that I had planted the seeds, anticipating the time when tiny shoots seeking summer’s radiance would break through the ground. Swiftly the green stalks had ascended towards the sky until, reaching a peak of 12 feet, buds burst into existence, yellow flowers crowning the horizon. And, as the sun moved in its eternal orbit, these flowers of the sun followed the path— towards the east in the morning, overhead at midday, then gradually proceeding westward. Now, the flowers that had reached for the sun prostrated themselves, almost touching the earth, their stalks brown as the dirt, the once magnificent blossoms shriveled and pale.

I still walked the paths of Point O’ Pines horse farm, accompanied by a tractor gathering hay into bales after a final harvest. However, now my walk began earlier, aware that the sun would set in late afternoon. Safe at home I watched the sky turn pink, then a glowing purple hue, and soon darkness enveloped the world. I had already carried my Mad River Canoe from the beach up to the barn, in hibernation for another season. T-shirts were traded in for a heavy fleece and I noticed that Elgar, the massive Friesian horse, and Pokémon, the diminutive pony, also exchanged short summer hair for protective fur.

Summer’s end. A sad transition into fall. Summer’s end always evokes melancholy in the Adirondacks. To buoy my spirits, I remembered that unless one season ends another cannot begin. Eventually spring would return, heralding a new cycle, another summer. Once again days would end at 9 PM, horses would shed their fur, the acorns would cling to the branches and I would drift with the current in a 16-foot canoe. But for now–––.

Then, I noticed the tree. A maple. Leaves of fiery red, reflecting the afternoon sun with a radiance that lifted my spirits. That maple was a beacon, a beautiful farewell wave as it danced in the October winds, a reminder of the sheer brilliance of life even as the seasons evolves into darker days.

Remember the glorious colors, always present for those who are aware. The splendid colors of autumn. Remember the brightness as summer ends.

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