Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Goodbye Season

I love summer and I love fall. Summer evenings on my porch, listening to the cicadian symphony accompanied by the occasional timpani yowl of a neighborhood cat, watching the dusk turn gently to night , I can feel time stopping to listen and watch along with me. Autumn mornings stir my blood. Walking quickly to the bus stop through the crispy cool air, breathing hard to watch the small clouds of steam, and avoiding dewy grass, I am almost fooled into thinking my bus will be yellow and not green when it finally pulls up.

But like many of us, I don’t tolerate sudden change easily. For me, last week’s cold snap wasn’t a harbinger of more, but different, enjoyable weather. It reminded me that summer is coming to a close and I need to prepare for that, mentally, physically, spiritually. It was a forced period of transition and I balked. Those in-between days are my “goodbye season.” It didn’t last long, but I realized I wasn’t quite ready for summer to be over, even though I have many wonderful things in the fall to look forward to.

I’m not ready to abandon my garden. Folks in my neighborhood already think I’ve abandoned it, but now that the beds are ready and I have some weekend time, I want to plant sweet alyssum and snap dragons and lambs’ ear and cone flowers. It’s too late for that, yet I always thought I’d have plenty of time whenever I walked past the bare plots.

I’m not ready to say goodbye to my summer wardrobe. I don’t want to swap out my tank tops and flip flops for stockings and pumps. I don’t want to pull out all my jeans and fold up my shorts, or dig through drawers, ignoring cotton shortie pajamas and silky nighties, looking for flannel pants and thermal tops.

I’m not ready to winterize my house by putting the crocheted afghans and Mexican striped throws on the couch and tucking away the tiny pillows. Or making a choice between flannel sheets and soft cotton ones. Replacing the colorful summer quilt with the heavy down comforter. I can’t bear to tell my plants they can no longer spend their days outside on the porch, sunbathing. They must now come inside and fight for window spots, dropping leaves in protest at being cooped up, and leaving water rings of disapproval on wooden table tops.

I balk at taking leave of dining and drinking al fresco, easily my most favorite summer activity. I can’t bear to turn away from salads, popsicles, outdoor grilled catfish and red peppers, fresh vegetables from my neighbor’s garden, lazy beers on Venus’ deck, iced mochas on Muddy’s patio, brunch mimosas under Classic Cup umbrellas.

I don’t know how I’ll pack up my summer reading. All those adrenaline-pumping thrillers, friendship-filled chick lit novels, baseball, NASCAR, and Olympic expose’s, the whimsical and escapist fantasy and science fiction, the chill-inducing horror (only read during the hottest days).

I want my ballet, Shakespeare and baseball in the park. I want to hear the pulsing beat of the blues at a street festival, watch the buskers on the Plaza sidewalks, cheer the reckless drivers at the demolition derby, judge corn and pigs, and battle the exhilarating fear at the top of the ferris wheel at the county fair.

How could I say goodbye to all that? But I will. If not graciously, then sulkily, but only for a moment. Until I warmly greet all the bounty and beauty that is autumn.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Literary Lions Lost

It was a hard weekend in the book world. Two of its most respected and revered authors turned the last page.

Award-winning crime novelist, George Mcdonald, passed away Sunday. Mcdonald is the creator of the Edgar worthy Fletch novels which also made the successful leap to the movie screen. Mcdonald honed his appreciation for cynical and witty characters and outrageous situations at the Boston Globe as a reporter and editor. He took these experiences and crafted one of the first comic-mysteries with Fletch, an educated beach bum with a snappy comeback and reckless nature. These books are still popular with readers who are fans of the sardonic tarnished detective-knight who carefully guards the small piece of gold buried in his heart.

A master of experimental fiction, David Foster Wallace, committed suicide Friday night. Wallace accumulated a cult following for his darkly comic and innovative novels and short stories. His first novel, Broom of the System, grew out of his senior thesis. Wallace is best known for his expansive, thought-provoking and occasionally frustrating novel, Infinite Jest.

Oh, sure, there'll always be another wise-acre detective and some fresh kid pushing the boundaries of fiction, but it won't be the same without Mcdonald and Wallace, whose influence will live on.