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August 3rd, 2009
10:14 pm
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August
This weekend, I noticed that the heat wave broke. Earlier, we had had the luxury of not noticing, indoors in front of our two-week-old air conditioner -- but while helping firestrike move, in the heat of the day, in the middle of the Central Valley, the conclusion was inescapable. It was hot, but not ridiculous.

Elsewhere, friends are complaining about three-digit temperatures, or heat waves in cities that have never heard of "air conditioning"; clearly, summer has not yet left us. But here, the heat has receded. It has come and gone all season -- mostly stayed -- and now, as we trek into a new month, our blunting of heat's edge has taken on a sort of melancholy permanency. It doesn't help that, barely two days into August, our local pagan circle has already celebrated the first of its harvest rituals.

Summer is my favorite season. It is a season of fire -- and wherever life's path may take me, I am a dragon, and fire is my element. Summer is a season of action, of travel, of adventure; it stirs a wanderlust, fueling the flames of the soul. Even when it overwhelms my body (with temperatures in the range of, as the local patois puts it, "stupid hot"), it keeps my mind in motion; I am at my most productive, most fulfilled, most driven when my body's rhythms must keep pace with early mornings and endless afternoons. Around the Solstice, with twilight lasting past 9 p.m., with the sun greeting me no matter how late I leave the office, life feels natural -- I am finally fully in the flow of time.

Summer is also my season of birth, and July always brings with it a stretch of reflection on time's passage. I've been increasingly unsettled this year, and as the heat wave has fallen away and the end of the season looms, it has become obvious why: this moment in time, as summer falls away, is reflective of not just the season's passage but that of my own life.

We are born in winter, grow up in spring -- timidly pushing our way through snows and rains to blossom in the glow of lengthening days -- and come into full flower in glorious summer. There is endless time, days of unquenchable energy, to fuel any desire we dare to explore. Nothing is outside our reach. The heat of our lives is intense; passion drives us, and we dance, whirling in its grasp, barely thinking to breathe as we hurtle ourselves through the season.

Then something reminds us to pause, to look up. Perhaps it's the incrementally lengthening nights, the easing of the relentless heat, a few more dried-up streams as the last of the snow melts off of the mountains. The world is still alive, vibrant, endless, but we have a bit more comfort with which to pause and reflect, and it's not quite so simple to charge across the landscape in endless motion.

In midsummer, you are aware of these things as distant sensations, tickling at the edges of your consciousness. You've lost 15 minutes of sunlight per day; what of it? There is still so much summer left!

And then summer starts tumbling toward its end. Those 15 minutes turn into 45. The heat tempers. You're still in a season of motion, but there is no way to ignore the change in the air. Anything is still possible, but there is a growing sense that time is short, that soon you will be moving into a new phase, and that you could slip over that threshold at any time and not even realize it until hindsight kicks in. Perhaps you already have? A low-grade panic begins to whisper into your ear; is there anything you still wished to accomplish with this season that has not yet been addressed?

Part of you says, that's silly. You can range around the hills, sometimes, straight through to October; the rainy season is still months off. Part of you welcomes the change; as your world cools, some journeys become easier.

And part of you is screaming, clawing desperately for purchase as possibilities landslide away down the center of the hourglass.

I still have plenty of heat left -- both in the seasonal sense and the lifetime sense. But sooner or later, the dog days will shade into the long Indian summer.

I wish I could say that I was prepared for the change. But time will drift on regardless.

Current Mood: melancholymelancholy
Current Music: Lisa Loeb, "Snow Day"
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(13 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:jolantru
Date:August 4th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC)
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This is beautiful.
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From:soreth
Date:August 4th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
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We close our eyes - and the world has turned around again
We close our eyes and dream...
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From:baxil
Date:August 4th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
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Heh. I don't know if you knew it when you wrote your comment, but that song and I have a history. It's the bestworst sort of bittersweet, and it does capture the mood of my post so well.
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From:soreth
Date:August 5th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
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I know... that's why I said it, it seemed to fit so well.
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From:dancinglights
Date:August 4th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
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this is gorgeous. thank you for sharing.
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From:copperwolf
Date:August 4th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. I've always felt that spring is a season of action, while summer is calmer, more relaxed -- still for growing, but slower paced. And then fall is restless again; but maybe that fits with your "low-grade panic." I found it energizing. Winter is for stabilization and rest.

Spring and fall are my favorite seasons. It probably matters that where I grew up, springtime is a much more comfortable temperature to be outdoors than summer.

Edited at 2009-08-04 05:23 pm (UTC)
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From:baxil
Date:August 4th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
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Geography and personal cosmology have a great deal to do with this. As I said, I'm a fire spirit at heart, and I'm lucky enough to live in a climate where summer is not relentlessly miserable. On top of that, California has a Mediterranean climate and I have Mediterranean (Greek) blood; in some ways I'm genetically programmed to see spring and fall as incomplete extensions of summer rather than seasons in their own right.
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From:paka
Date:August 4th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome to it.

To me, summer is death. Out in the wilderness, your body can overheat and water is scarce. Between the lessened twilight and the way everyone has holed up to save energy food is scarcer. In winter, the snow can be a predator's ally; there's nothing like that in summer. Add to that a very real history of living in Georgia, and summer is just brutal. I can hardly wait for autumn to be here once more.
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From:baxil
Date:August 4th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
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Like I said above, geography and personal cosmology have a lot to do with it. Living in places where the summertime heat pushes the limits of human comfort and/or tolerance is going to have a profound impact on your view of the seasons.

One of the things that makes humanity so vibrant is that it can encompass and embrace extremes like this. I'm glad there are people who get a lot more out of winter than I do.
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From:elynne
Date:August 5th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
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I wonder sometimes if affinity for seasons has to do with the season in which a person is born.

I was born in autumn, and that's my season. Up here, there is an actual season of autumn, that I never had in all my time in California. It's green, brown, gold, grey, wet, windy, and utterly beautiful. It's the time when mulch is made; you can see it happening, dead leaves piling up in wet layers and lovingly nurtured by worms, the spectacularly fertile blanket that ensures another year of life. The clouds rolling past, ushering in weather (instead of the clear blue absence of weather that characterizes summer), are exciting and energizing to me. Heat saps my energy; rain renews it. I endure summer with the tantalizing promise of autumn blowing a little closer every sunset.
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From:roaminrob
Date:August 5th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
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I was born in December.

I can endure only a little Winter before I crave Summer again.
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From:elynne
Date:August 5th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
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heh, there we go, then. ;)
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From:roaminrob
Date:August 5th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
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I don't know if I would say I was a fire spirit, or not -- but I do crave heat and warmth, and, within certain bounds, the hotter it is, the more energy I have. The cold saps my energy, makes me want to sleep the days away until it's warm again.

As for how I feel about Summer's end -- well, that has long depended on how I spent my Summer. If I spent it idly, or if I spent it doing the same things that I did all Winter, then Summer's end is hard for me. Not that it's ever easy, but at least I can look back at my Summer and recall all of the things I did with it, and I can feel like there wasn't a moment wasted. And, if I wasted no moments ... then what is there to be sorry about?

For me, that works metaphorically and literally.
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