Back at the beginning of September, my friend Marnie wrote a WCS post about finding an image that captures what the end of summer looks like to you. (Go read it HERE!) I’ve been thinking and looking for my image ever since. I’m not sure I didn’t start too late! For me, summer doesn’t end when the kids start back to school, because they start so early here in Utah (August 19 this year) and because it takes awhile, quite often, for summer to wind down. I don’t know, is it like that everywhere? Look up at the mountains and it’s fall, but here in the valley the grass is still green and the days still hot.
For me, it really feels like fall has started once I am tempted to wear a long-sleeved running shirt!
The end-of-summer image is almost one I haven’t even taken, but probably you can imagine: a bowl of peaches in morning sunlight. This is because, on the day that Kaleb started first grade and I realized what it truly means to have all of your kids at school all day(a certain sadness), I went running and then I made a peach smoothie with peaches from my niece’s in-law’s peach orchard. The most delicious, perfectly ripe peaches I’ve ever eaten. The peaches I buy every summer now, and every time I taste one I remember that smoothie and that feeling. That sadness/freedom mix that the end of summer brings.
It’s almost that image.
But the end-of-summer feeling is also so tied to being outside that it is an outdoor image. Not the mountains, where it already is fall, but my very own yard, where summer is lingering. Where, at the end of August and into the end of September (if we don’t get a cold snap), these flowers bloom:
I fight them all summer because they try so hard to overtake one of my iris patches. They are very nearly flower bullies. But then they bloom and I remember why I put up with them, these flowers I don’t have a name for. They are the last bit of bright, cool color I’ll find in my yard until spring brings the crocus back. They are like all the bright light of summer turned into petals.
A metaphor for the end of summer.
Today, when there are only a few true days of summer left, a look back at some of my favorite summer 2014 memories, the ones I either didn’t or couldn’t photograph:
Doing yoga on the beach with Haley. This was when we were in Cabo in June. The resort where we stayed had yoga every morning, but we only made it once. Right in front of the beach they have a patch of springy grass, and a pile of towels, and an energetic yoga instructor counting in English with her soft Spanish accent. Green grass, turquoise water, bright blue sky, waves crashing on the sand and that deep, relaxing stretch that only yoga brings. All with my favorite daughter! After, we stood and watched a school of manta rays flipping in the surf.
Hiking with Jake. It might be obvious (or not) that this hasn’t been the easiest teen/mom summer. There has been a lot of frustration and plenty of misunderstandings. In July I made him go hiking with me, partly because he was boasting about being faster than me! Faster maybe…but he’d apparently forgotten my endurance. So we started out on a steep trail with a friendly, competitive spirit. He coaxed me up the slippery spots. We talked and laughed. My endurance beat his speed. We took a wrong turn but navigated back so we weren’t lost for too long, and in the way that exercise has of wearing down all the negative feelings, for that morning we were our old, comfortable-with-each-other selves.
Shopping at Old Navy with Nathan. I tell you…I had a hard time getting motivated to go back-to-school clothes shopping this year. Kaleb wears a uniform and I had to buy him a whole new batch of shirts last spring when he hit a growth spurt, so he didn’t need anything much. Jake is always “ehhh” about shopping for clothes, so I usually just pick out some stuff I think he’ll like and he usually likes it. Nathan though—he’s particular. He likes to look nice and he has a specific “look” he is aiming for. He really, desperately needs some new jeans, but he is growing so fast that I asked him to please wait until it cooled off. I’ll take him to American Eagle in October. (He wears a 28/32 jean. Do you know how hard it is to find that size?) So we went to Old Navy to look for shirts. Just me and him. We talked, we laughed, we found some shirts he loved. He’s a good companion…easy to spend time with, even when haggling for more clothes. (And of course a belt!)
Running with Kaleb. This is probably silly. It’s a tiny moment. But I loved it. In August, Kaleb’s cub scout troop had a pack meeting at the park, with obstacle courses and outdoor games. One of the stations was just a simple race between two cones. I took off my shoes and I race him, barefoot in the grass. I ran as fast as I could (or, I guess, as fast as I could trust my ankle) and laughed while we ran. He was happy and I was happy and I’ll let you guess if he won fair and square or I let him win.
Sitting on the side of Tioga Road in Yosemite with Kendell. After we hiked Lembert Dome, we started driving for a bit, but pretty soon we both realized how thirsty we were. So we pulled over at a tiny little gravel patch and then pulled the bowl of watermelon out of the cooler in the back of the van. We sat in the van and ate the watermelon and it was the coolest, most refreshing thing ever. He was happy, I was happy, and we had cold melon. So sweet.
Doing water aerobics with my mom. Again at Cabo. Same resort, same soft-voiced instructor. When we finished working out, she had the whole group make a circle in the middle of the pool. We held each other’s wrists, and then every other person lifted up their feet and started floating, and the others started walking in a circle, so the floating people spun in a widening gyre. First my mom floated, and as I held her wrist I could feel how delicate it is, and the strain in her shoulders, the age in her bones, which should terrify me but it didn’t. It just felt like her, right now, in my hands. Then I floated and she held part of me up (a stranger was holding my other hand), helping me balance, and I just loved her so much right in that moment.
Swimming in Chileno Bay with Suzette. Can you stand one more Cabo story? Most of the beaches there aren’t safe for swimming, so one day we drove to Chileno Bay. Haley and I swam out to the roped-off edge of the bay and then back, and then Suzette and I hung out together in the water. She’d had a hard time getting past where the waves crashed, and had a scary moment when they tumbled her around. But with the help of her daughter Madi (who came racing into the water with a lifeguard kick, because she is an actual lifeguard) and a trio of kind Mexican men, she made it into the deep water. So we floated out there in the salty water, which was so cold, but the day was so hot it didn’t matter. We laughed at her near-drowning because it really wasn’t that she almost drowned. We laughed at our beautiful daughters and our mother sunning herself on the sand and our soft, wrinkled, middle-aged selves. It was perfect.
Driving with Becky. At this year’s Ragnar, I was sort of lame. I fell asleep in the van at the second major exchange (when it was starting to get dark), and then I was completely out of it. I’d wake up just the smallest bit when our team’s runners were coming in and out of the van, but I was mostly dead-cold asleep. (This felt lame because I did virtually zero cheering for my teammates, during the roughest legs. On the other hand, it didn’t even feel like a choice. I was just…asleep.) This meant, though, that after my night leg (which happened “late” enough that it was really a very-early morning leg, in the light!), I wasn’t so thoroughly exhausted. In Ragnars past, I’ve had that out-cold moment after my second run, so I’ve never been awake for the drive to the last major exchange. But this year, I was! Everyone else was asleep except for me and Becky (who was driving). We talked a little bit, and I admired the scenery, and I was at that point of tiredness when you’re full of energy and happiness, and the sun was up with that early-morning color of summer light, and I was just so happy to be there with my sweet, fantastic sister.
Running in Yosemite with just myself. We had two mornings in Yosemite, the one when we hiked and then the next day. I was so determined to get up early on the second morning and go running on the bike trails in Yosemite Valley. But I came down with an ugly cold (it hit me when we had three miles of hiking left) and that morning? There was no early waking up. I had an actual fever. So no running, either. But, I did have my running moment the day before. This happened in the Little Yosemite Valley, which is a mostly-flat section of the trail. I stopped to take some pictures of the river, and when I turned around, I couldn’t see Kendell, Jeff, or Lenna. I couldn’t see anyone, in fact. So I stood in the quiet, savoring the very-rare experience of a moment of solitude in Yosemite. Then I adjusted all my straps—and I ran. It was only for roughly four and a half minutes, and it was the awkward run you can only do when you’ve got a pack on your back and a big camera on your chest and you’re running in hiking boots. But, running nonetheless. In Yosemite, by myself. It was blissful.
What image sums up the end of summer for you? What were your favorite summer moments?