Saturday, August 29, 2009

Summer is over

The weather has shifted. Today the breeze has turned cool and refreshing. The house still radiates heat from the months of sunlight baking deeply into the stones. Open windows welcome the cool morning air rushing in, soothing, lightening. Airing out summer.

My house is mine again. I've swatted and brushed away the abundant growth of cob webs under the stairs, in the cracks of the doors, in front of the windows, against the heavy wooden beams. The only rain storm of the summer has rendered me back my green lawn -- traded in for dry yellow straw for much of these past couple of weeks.

For days now I've been slowly unpacking all that I put away for the summer renters. The foodstuff was first to come out from under the stairwell, then the clothes back on the hangers and in their drawers. I've removed my sourdough starter from the freezer and over the past week have been nourishing and refreshing it back to its former liveliness. Yet to be uncovered are all my photos of the kids, the personal and fragile things that were the first to be tucked away for safety and discretion's sake.

Our summer was spent far away, in a land of books and card games, woods and lakes, my family, the English language (or American if more precision is requested) bathing our ears in another world's ways. My childhood blended with that of my boys. My wish to touch, find yet again the sensation of endless time: days blending one into another, minimal to loose scheduling, books taking over my psyche to the point of reading all night, or carrying my book from my bed to the breakfast table, unable to put it down. Conversations that flow easily and stop or pause with no tension. Kids running freely, shoes left on the porch, toughened soles scrambling over rocks, down the paths, leaping into the cool water.

Summers include star-gazing. And what is this but a moment in silence, in awe at the size and glory of the universe above. Yet again a reminder of our smallness and the vastness above. In years past, I looked up from my canoe, leaning back on the bow, my paddle gently resting on my knees, in the middle of the lake, the only sound tiny waves gently lapping against the sides, while above me falling stars flash by. This year, it was atop a well in the middle of acres of vineyards, a dry, warm and mosquito free breeze gently enwrapping my stretched out body. I saw Queen Cassiopeia's W, and the big dipper, the North star and perhaps Pegasus as he rode across the clear summer sky.

With Monday will come school, three of my four teen boarders for this year, an interview to teach English, and a swirl of activities and errands to be placed into the busy weeks ahead. The rhythms and routines of the fall will impose themselves upon us, insisting upon care and attention. I'm holding back - just a bit -- till the last moment. I came back early to France, to give us time to adapt, re-acquaint ourselves with this world and its peoples, culture, ways, time. I have learned not to leave our return till the last minute. It is too jarring and painful to arrive and two days later struggle up from the depths of jet-lagged induced slumber to school and its insistent presence. How did my parents manage this? As a child we drove home after Labor Day. School commenced a mere day or two after our arrival in New York. Two days of travel, unpacking two cars, and the spare room filled to the rafters with the things we'd removed for the summer renters... and then off to work and school, our carefree days of summer a rich and yet intangible web of memories jangled by brick walls, tile floors and scratching of chalk on the chalkboard.


Gillian said...

When we view the stars, we look into the mirror of ourselves. In our ordinary reality, however, Autumn brings a reluctant revving into action - uniforms, books, class preparation and the stress of the workplaces call; early, dark, cold mornings rewarded in the evening by the fires glow and the promise of respite at the October mid term break.

Madeleine Vedel said...

mmm t'is ever so true. I look forward to the warm fire, but not so to the dark mornings, though there'll be plenty of hot chocolate and tea!