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Jim Bishop | Sparkling summer ignites love affair with autumn

A touch of melancholia came over me as I looked up and noted the tinge of color displayed among the top branches of the sugar maple tree in our front yard.

It seems a bit early for Mother Nature to be applying her multi-colored palette to the foliage, even though the first day of autumn was Sept. 22. I wonder whether this might serve as an early warning signal of some interesting weather shifts might be in store for Valley denizens.

After all, I suspect that most of us have been spoiled by what has to be one of the more unusual summers that I can recall of our long (38 years) sojourn in this resplendent corner of God’s half acre. It’s amazing how few days we had with temperatures creeping over 90 degrees with accompanying high relative humidity, not even during August.

A similar feeling hit me as I reluctantly exited the Westover Pool complex the last Sunday in August, the final day of the season for the outdoor facilities. This year, I wasn’t tempted to buy an individual season pass until mid-July because of the uncommonly cool weather up to that point.

Now, I must adjust my exercise regimen, returning to walking regularly along the wide streets of our development, supplemented by the indoor track at EMU. I never did care for jogging, but walking is a pleasure – until colder weather arrives and I must talk myself out the door.

I’m feeling almost guilty in reflecting with much satisfaction on the summer that was.

Our “garden” – for some 32 years covering a sizable portion of our back yard and then plowed under and seeded to grass – consisted this summer of six Better Boy tomato plants. The fruit grew large but insisted on remaining green until mid-August. The resultant harvest, while not bountiful, has provided numerous memorable gastronomical delights as a succulent side to freshly-picked Silver Queen sweet corn and lemonade.

It doesn’t get much better than this in the ingestion department – except for getting my licks on a Kline’s ice cream cone while cruising and playing the radio – some 50’s tunes, naturally – with the top down on the Miata. I fear it’s too late for me to grow up now.

I took more vacation days this summer than in any previous year in my long tenure at the same workplace – ten incredible days of being blown away by the drop-dead dazzling scenery of our 49th state, Alaska, in June, followed by our annual family pilgrimage to Ocean City, N.J., in mid-July. The perfect weather followed us to the Jersey Shore, where each day was a carbon copy of the previous one – comfortable temperatures, clear blue skies and inviting surf.

In the past, the ocean water warming to a decent temperature usually resulted in an invasion of stinging jellyfish and gobs of seaweed that wrapped around your legs like wet toilet paper. Not so this summer. What did we do to deserve this tranquil treat?

These pleasurable experiences provided a wake-up call: The clock is ticking, I finally realized, and before all the grains of sand hit the bottom of the hourglass I want to do more than make tracks on the New Jersey beach. Other sights and sounds, many in unexplored regions of the U.S., beckon this burgeoning traveler.

Meanwhile, other signs of the time flash reminders of the changing seasons – the foliage on the peony bushes turning silvery, the lower leaves on our rainbow-spangled rows of zinnias developing what appears to be a bad rash, shutting off our home air-conditioning system in favor of throwing open the windows to welcome the cool night breezes.

Before we know it, the leaves on our mature maples will spread a colorful wall-to-wall carpet on our yard, the convertible top will drop less often on the Miata and heavenly shades of night will be falling as I motor home from work.

And, not to suggest that we’re rushing the season, but I’ll not be surprised to see the first signs of the holiday season in stores – Christmas greeting cards on display before Halloween arrives – the end of Daylight Savings Time and perhaps even a few wayward snowflakes before the first killing frost.

But, these changes must come, and I must rise up and meet them, if not with grand anticipation then at least with a sense of gratitude fueled by glorious memories of one of the best summers of my life.


– Column by Jim Bishop

augusta free press news
augusta free press news