Overlap season

28 08 2012

Although it’s still August, the heralds of Autumn in Central New York have been making themselves known for weeks now.  Geese are calling out as they practice their formations overhead.  A red maple leaf lies brightly on a green lawn.  The pool at the end of our street is closed for the season.  Gannon’s–the local homemade ice-cream shop that ought to qualify as one of the wonders of the world–retired its summer best-seller almost three weeks ago now, replaced by one of the best seasonal reminders ever: their pumpkin spice ice-cream, which tastes exactly like what happened when you were a kid, and your mom made pumpkin pie following the recipe on the Libby’s pumpkin can, and you begged for whipped cream in a huge pile on top of your slice, and then you mashed the pie and cream all together with your fork: a miracle, shipped forward in time and preserved in a styrofoam cup.

At the same time, though, our tomato plants are just starting their colorful yields–a few varieties only just starting to color at all, with not a single fruit yet ripe enough for picking.  The sunflowers Caleb and I planted in June are just now sporting crowns, but no blossoms yet. The pumpkin-graveyard beside the front stairs has produced an enormous vine swollen with gigantic orange blossoms, but no sign, not the smallest green knot, of actual pumpkins.  The cooler nights have started, but we’re still having days in the 90s, the house a roar of fans, and last week were swimming at the lake-beach in layers of sunblock.  So it’s still, also Summer, even as the green honey-locust tree in our neighbors yard starts trimming its impatient edges with bright, buttery yellow.

At our house, it’s a weird transition season too: Caleb is starting school up north (if you want to help me maintain my sense of dignity and respect when talking about his mother, please don’t ask why he’ll be doing that instead of taking advantage of the amazing resources at the school his father teaches at, which he could be steeping in excellence with other precocious little minds for free), which means we’ll only be seeing him on weekends and holidays through the school year, but his school has sent a copy of their introductory Kindergarten letter to our house too, and it’s tacked up in the kitchen in a prominent place to help us stay on top of where he’s at and what he’s up to as best we can.  Matt’s back at MPH this week for meetings and class-prep and getting his classroom together–both of them have their first day of class on the 5th.  So it ought to feel like summer’s over.  But me, I’m hanging out here, cleaning up the house, puttering on projects, doing some editing work, being too hot and too large and hushed by the fans and all of their roaring, wishing for ice-cream (it’s a long walk to Gannon’s when one has to make the whole trek waddling like a penguin, you see, and Matt took the car to run errands on his way home) so for me, it’s totally still summer, even though we’ve already done our first round of apple-picking at Abbott farms, and I my first round of internet-inspired apple baking–because that happened before the “end-of-summer-grilling” party we spontaneously put together Sunday.

So I feel a bit left behind, abandoned in Summerland while everybody else rushes off into Fall (Facebook is awash with photographs of everybody’s children heading back to school; apparently it happens really (relatively) late up here, although I don’t remember the juxtaposition being so abrupt and strange when we were young), and it’s not sad so much as strange.  Autumn is my favorite season, but I’m in no real hurry–there’s no doubt, living here, that the cool will come (with cold fast on its heels) or that the leaves will fall and fill the air with their crisp, smoky flavor.  More relevantly, I suppose, I’m in no real hurry because I’m sitting (basking, baking, with the afternoon sun hot in the West-facing living room window) under a summer watermelon that promises to become some wholly other creature come Autumn, and when she gets here, she’ll be changing everything.

We’re making progress on the nursery, slowly transforming our space into a different sort of space, although that’s a funny overlap too.  We’ve been practicing, so our language is already there–Caleb says to his friend Julianna, as he shows her upstairs, “don’t go in there, that’s the baby’s room,” even though there isn’t any baby to take possession of said room.  (This was followed by “and you’ll break something; I know it,” to which I felt required to pipe up from down the hall with “Caleb!  That’s not very nice!”  There isn’t even anything breakable in there, and considering his track record lately of acting on defiant impulse despite–and often directly after–being asked not to do something risky or to wait a moment for help, I think he’s much more likely to be breaking things than she is.)  For now, I’m still the baby’s room, and I’ve dragged the bassinet into our bedroom, since she’ll be sleeping there first, so we’ve got some time.  But in our heads, she has a room, and things in it that belong to her (even a few yard sale books, which Caleb keeps nicking off her shelf and running off with.  I’ve told him when she’s here, we’re going to have a book swap, and if he wants any of the ones I’ve bought for her, he’s going to have to trade some of his board books or other literary treasures for them.  This seems fair to me, as they’ll both end up reading all of them anyway, and she won’t care yet at all, so he can have free choice–as long as her shelf still has the visual weight of books for her to learn are part of what life’s like as she starts to take in input).

The calendar says I still have 3 1/2 weeks to go, folk wisdom says it’s more likely to be 5, and all of the scary factoids from childbirth class loom over my head trying to convince me to interpret every little pang or wiggle as a sign that it’s NOW ALREADY–which it isn’t.  But our childbirth instructor, when class started a month ago, said “Wow, you might not make it to the end of class!” when we told her the due date (unlikely, since the end of class is tomorrow), and the internet says “hey, any time past last week is fair game,” so even the waiting has a peculiar sense of overlap to it.  It could have been this month, it’s predicted to be next month, and 2 weeks late would make it October, so all attempts at planning specifics about anything have been replaced lately with a shrug.  You expect a few-week window, not a few-month one,  but she’ll be here when she’s here, maybe a Summer baby like I was (technically, for that, she has until the 21st of September), maybe an Autumn like her brother,  but either way, she’ll be modeling the ghost-hat Jeremiah bought her by Halloween–which seems the farthest idea possible from around-the-corner, as the angle deepens and this room is flooded with warm light and the yelling of kids on the street through the open windows, but in the capitalist quest for the infinite holiday overlap, the stores have been selling decorations for almost a month already (back to school banners were obstructing the aisles in May…).

There’s still summer chard in today’s CSA batch, though, so at least there’s a little point of clarity to work with–and I’m off to work it into dinner.




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