Averyt: Swan Song of Summer

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It’s September, and for Commentator Anne Averyt that means
the start of the school year, even though it’s been a long time since
she last lined up for classes.

(AVERYT) The freight train of
fall is barreling down the tracks right now. The scent of September is
heavy in the air.

Somehow I never
seem to outgrow the school calendar. Summer officially starts for me in
mid-June when schools shut their doors – even though half a century has
passed since I walked out of Rowland Elementary and into the summer air
of suburban Philadelphia.

In the same way, the rite of summer’s
passing is marked by the end of August’s aria and the crooning of
September’s song.

The cadence of the school calendar seems
to set the pace for our entire lives. No matter what the Gregorian
calendar says, summer only stretches from mid-June to early September.
The holidays we look forward to are the memories of childhood freedom –
Thanksgiving , Christmas , Presidents Day, spring break. Time past
carries us into time present, or as TS Elliot said, " Footfalls echo in
memory – time future is contained in time past" . At least that’s how it
feels to me.

I still think of fall as it smelled to a teenager
running the school hockey fields. I still hear the roar of the partisan
hometown fans at the Friday afternoon football game and I still cruise
in memory with my friends, riding through town, horns blaring, declaring

Right now in my back yard, the white wild roses are
blooming again, singing their swan song of summer. In my front yard the
fall hydrangeas are growing fat, infusing the air with a sweet scent as I
approach the door. I know autumn’s come. For the school kids, fall
carries the promise of a new year, while for me in the autumn of my
years it is a wistful harbinger of snows soon to flurry and the approach
of long months of house arrest, nestled in front of the wood stove of

It is, as Carly Simon sang, all about anticipation –
about looking forward, about the crisp air of change. But I’ve already shifted my mental focus to things like
cleaning up the garden and cleaning out the attic. My car trunk is
stuffed with old necessities earmarked for the autumn church yard sale.

life moves forward along with the seasons. Although my children no
longer wait at the corner for the school bus and I no longer run the
hockey field, the school bell still rings out in early September
reminding me – it’s time to get dressed and ready for a new year.

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