At first you don’t notice it, it’s so subtle. Then one night you suddenly realize, wow, it’s ten o’clock and it’s dark already. You feel a little depressed then, especially if you, like me, hate to let go of summer. I may not enjoy the heat and humidity that comes with Michigan in June, July, and August, but I love the extra daylight, the flowers and the greens and the fields full of crops growing profusely. I love the June bugs that buzz against the screens in June and the fireflies that dance around on July nights. You can almost predict when they’ll first appear and when they’ll leave, and when the last of the fireflies drift away into the muggy nights, I feel a little sad. I have always hated to say good-bye to summer.
It’s not surprising I included that very line in one of the first short stories I wrote, titled aptly enough, Goodbye to Summer. In that story, young widow and single mom Kate Mitchell meets forest ranger Mike O’Brien and of course falls madly in love. To this day it remains one of my favorites, and I’ll always treasure the words of the editor I worked with at the time, “It’s a lovely story.” Words to warm an author’s heart. It was a true summer story with a beach and boats sailing on a lake and a picnic with dogs playing about on the sand. I put a lot of what I feel for this season into Goodbye to Summer. I’m happy to say the story, although first published over 30 years ago, is now available again as part of the An Uncommon Prince and Other Short Stories on Amazon, and that Kate and Mike can live on for as long as Kindle survives. But of course, they’ll always live on in my heart.
This is the last weekend of July, and while August still lies ahead in all its muggy, hot glory, with the declining hours of light you can feel the slow slide into autumn. I love that season, too, but summer will always remain the best time of the year for me. In Michigan we are fortunate to have more farm stands and farmer’s markets that you can count, all offering whatever is ripening that month; strawberries in June, blueberries in July, peaches in August, sweet corn, and always zucchini, zucchini, and more zucchini. For anyone who has every grown them, you know how they proliferate overnight and how you often find a monster one hiding beneath the vines. It’s all been a part of the summers I have always known and what makes it hard to say good-bye.
There is still time left, to watch summer sunsets and listen to the noisy cicadas and chirping crickets, but the days are definitely growing shorter. Enjoy them while they last.