Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer's Flight Path

It seems an annual ritual, much like the reporting of pitchers and catchers to spring training, or the sight of birds in a "v" formation heading south for the winter. I have now, on more than one occasion, heard myself mouth that entirely forgettable and utterly nonsensical phrase: "I can't believe how summer flew by this year.."

Most often my analysis is met with a knowing nod, a confirmation that somehow time has moved in a wholly unexpected manner, and the laws of nature are not as immutable as scholars have suggested. On occasion, I am given verbal assurances that this summer roared past with the speed of a seventeen year old driver.

Now I could understand this if I had recently moved to a locale where summer was actually nothing more than an abstract concept, where the only noticeable change in the seasons was that the thermal underwear went into hiding for a few weeks. But I have lived in the northeast of the US, in the same state, in the same county, and within the same 10 mile radius, for virtually my entire existence, now in its seventh decade. There are four distinct seasons here, and as far as I can tell, August still remains the month after July. How surprised could I actually be?

I have tried to reconstruct the events of the past several months in my mind. The real dilemma is that I seem to be staring at an almost blank canvas. Maybe the hands of the clock are moving so quickly because the space between the melting of the last snow and the impending fall foliage appears to have shrunken to the size of the head of a pin, unencumbered by memories of distinct events. I remember waking up one morning and looking out at the frozen ice on the Hudson River, and I know I am sitting here at this computer, but what happened to virtually everything in between?

I think, for us on the wrong side of the memory spectrum, time really does have a different feeling. I don't mean this in the sense that we recognize our mortality and that every tick of the clock (if any clocks still tick) brings us one instant closer to a very cold and dark winter, but rather in recognition of the fact that our minds have gotten too cluttered and we are now starting to discard rather than accumulate. And so, we have difficulty cramming in anything more into our overwhelmed craniums.

As I concentrate intently, images are starting to flash by.. I now recall a wedding I attended in late May,  the sounds of James Taylor on July 4th, a bluegrass festival where a woman hula hooped for hours on end, and that trip to Alaska featuring the truly unforgettable sight of my friend standing over a mountain of bear poop on the sixth fairway.

I will try my best to temper my reflective instinct to mouth the lament that summer has passed by in less time than it took for you to wander down to this sentence. I know that the laws of physics are not subject to random fluctuations. I know that 24 hours still contains 1440 minutes and that each day has been filled with endless opportunities to be amazed, distressed, overjoyed or saddened. I know that September's looming presence only means that all of these events have touched down upon me over the course of the past months..

No, summer has not flown by this year, or in any other. Maybe for the young, those who now find themselves moving inexorably closer to the first day of returning to another school year, this season always ends prematurely. However, that is a lament related  solely to impending realities.

But until the day when the earth stops revolving around the sun, until the moment when democrats and republicans form one unified party, until the polar ice caps begin to melt (oh wait, I better not use that as an example), until nature and everything we know to be true is no longer, until that instant I must come to the irrefutable conclusion that summer did not move with any more rapidity this season than in the ones before.

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