Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Last Week of July

I started writing a post about opening the boxes of new school books which have been arriving all week, but honestly, it wasn't going anywhere.

I'm supposed to be working on a new young adult fiction manuscript, and I've been so hung up on character/place names that I haven't even begun the outline that I wanted to have finished by yesterday.

I owe a friend an email from sometime back at the beginning of the summer, and I owe a relative a letter from so far back I'm embarrassed to mention it.

The two decent blog post ideas I've got jotted down on that slip of paper I've mentioned before both will require some research, and I haven't had either the time or the inclination to do any of it.

What is it about the last week of July that can be so enervating?

It's not just the heat; it has actually been somewhat cooler here than it usually is in the summer, and while I was bracing myself for triple-digit temperatures the weather seems to have decided, with great whimsy, to drench our state this summer instead, keeping temperatures from getting much above the mid-90s (though the humidity is another story all together). It's not just the inevitable letdown that occurs when the main social events you had planned for the summer, the visits from out-of-town relatives and so on, have come and gone and you see the rest of the before-school free time shrinking to a handful of days; afternoons, really, because the mornings are getting busier and busier as I plan and prepare for the advent of a new school year.

I think it has something to do with the fact that during the last week in July you realize, all at once, that the inevitable signs of the approach of fall have begun to materialize.

The shadows in the late afternoon lengthen, and the sunlight goes from brilliant to golden, crawling listlessly up the living-room wall. Despite the unusual amount of rain we've had, there are vague, premature hints of color here and there among what was a uniform green wave of foliage. Catalogs begin to arrive in the mail showcasing fall fashion looks; the back-to-school sales are in full swing, with the end-of-summer clearance waiting in the wings. And one bold retailer sends out a "Christmas in July" e-mail sale notice that seems almost frightening.

It's not really over, of course. August is a reprieve, a temporary stay of execution for those dying leaves and fading flowers. Late August, when we begin school, will still have the flavor of summer about it, especially in such a warm climate as we enjoy here; I probably won't herald the real advent of fall until sometime in early October, when it might actually feel cool in the early mornings or late evenings on occasion. The crisp cool breezes of November will swirl in triumphantly, shaking away the leaves that have tried to hold on to the memory of warmth and light, like an aging beauty who still clings to the fashions of twenty or thirty years ago.

But in the meantime, before August's green-gold fades to the warm rich ambers and burgundies and browns to come, I'm going to try to capture some last traces of the enchantment of summer, dissipating so quickly at the end of July that it's hard to remember that nearly a whole month remains before it will slip away.


Joyful Catholics said...

Beautiful and colorful post! I'm an Autumn person, so I always look forward to Sept and Oct. I love crisp cool mornings and light jacket days, or a big toasty over-sized sweatshirt over my favorite pair of jeans. As the smell from a neighbor's fireplace (we don't have one unfortunately) wafts through the golden, red and maroon leaves delighting my olfactory senses, I pick up a glass of wine and reach for a book, or the remote to watch a classic and "class act" Jimmy Stewart movie on TCM. That's a most fun day for me.


Red Cardigan said...

Welcome, Susie!

I tend to love a lot about autumn, too--or I did, back when I lived in a state that actually *had* autumn. Here in Texas the dying daylight is our biggest clue that summer is nearly over, and I sometimes realize with chagrin that though the calender says "October" I'm still wearing sandals.

But since our winters end up feeling like the Midwestern autumns I remember I guess I shouldn't complain! :)