Summer's last dance
Summer's last dance
THOMASTON – The basketball sat forlornly under the pricker bushes, its last roll providing a shady final destination. The ping pong table in the garage bore the evidence of final use as a picnic table, fresh Gator Aide drops sparkling in the sun’s rays. The yard was empty, the slightly restless green canopy of leaves whispering to no one.
The trio headed down the road, my son Jonathan and his friends Anthony and Issac, talking the talk of 13-year-olds. They meandered, kick a rock or two, fishing pole in tow, and quickly disappeared into the early afternoon as they headed for the river. I watched them walk out of sight from the front door, taking summer with them.
There was much of Norman Rockwell here – a small town late summer day, three young guys and a fishing pole. Rockwell’s illustrations spoke of a simpler time, one that was supposed to be of yesterday. But, this was a scene for all-time.
There was relentless wistfulness to it all. School ready to roll, another summer gone the way of the dinosaur. Maybe dad was feeling it more than the kids, the idea of time passing, another summer of youth gone and irretrievable.
I wanted freeze frame in a world too often on fast forward. I took a walk out the back door and into the yard. There was deafening silence in the neighborhood, the buzz of a distance lawn mower, the only sound.
Yet, I heard the whispering leaves and summer was strong and warm again. There was Jonathan beating a plastic golf ball around the yard. I heard the thump of a tennis ball off of the front steps as he fired strikes at the cement and fielded the rebound.
The back yard was transformed one last time into the Fenway Park of the whiffle ball world. And there was Jonathan pounding a bomb off the roof during the annual family yard-beer party several weeks ago (all the beers your father used to drink while working in the yard).
The ping pong paddles lay lifeless on the table but screamed `pick me up’. Suddenly in the mind’s eye they were Jonathan’s weapons of destruction both for and against one more time and there he was chasing one more errant shot down the driveway.
I sat on the aging bench near the brook under the huge evergreen tree and there was more. Jonathan tooling around Myrtle Beach in his golf cart. Jonathan at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Jonathan walking Omaha Beach in Normandy and inspecting a Nazi bunker.
Jonathan at the top of Notre Dame Cathedral and rocking out at the play, `Let It Be’ in London. Jonathan trying to make sense of Stonehenge and taking in the ancient city of Bath.
The rest of the summer flashed by. Body surfing and endless baseball games in Waterbury, Southington, Seymour, Naugatuck and seemingly everywhere else. Some Bible School for the soul and some scorekeeping at the Little League field.
Early mornings together watching Sports Center over coffee and apple juice. Basketball camp at Loomis Chaffe and a trip to Fenway for the Yankees and Red Sox. Most recently watching Westport write their own Little League story for the ages. Morning time on the couch watching Sports Center.
I wondered where it all went, the endless days with all their wonder and excitement now gone, a tidy bunch of memories. I sat for a while longer in the stillness of a final summer afternoon, taking in the sunny silence, looking at the now, thinking about the then.
I got up and walked around the rest of the house, stretching out the day, the moment, trying to make it last while knowing that the minutes kept ticking by taking the summer with it.
One of the great characteristics of youth is its resiliency. School starts, fall sports with it. The interests change along with the schedule. There is an admirable tendency to look forward to the next big thing and leave the past behind safely in the memory box. The future is fun and that’s the way it should be when you are 13.
It is harder the older you get as time doesn’t meander by it races by with Indianapolis 500 speed.
I headed towards the back door, knowing once I walked through and screen door closed behind me, summer was gone. One more time I took a look around. One last glance of summer.
It all stood still beckoning against the calendar but the emptiness spoke volumes.
There was a bittersweet almost melancholy in the sunlight. Yet it shared time with a found smile. If I couldn’t stop time I had enjoyed this summer time. We made memories, the kind to hold on to.
I held the moment and then walked inside to tomorrow. It was over.