A bittersweet goodbye to the unforgettable summer of '05

September 22, 2005|By Jamie Stiehm

Summer's lease has all too short a date, said Shakespeare, and ain't that the truth. Today is the first day of fall, contrary to those who thought it began on the first day of school.

The cicadas are still singing, but they won't be for long. The days are getting shorter; the nights are falling faster. And the garden knows it, too: The last batch of zinnias has shown its colors, and the yellow black-eyed Susans have only their black eyes left. Only the cosmos are still going strong in September.

Time to forget about tennis and think about soccer.

But this summer brought more than ordinary changes of season. Hurricane Katrina nearly knocked New Orleans out in late August. In its wake, a bewildered and anguished city seemed to sum up the Southern metaphor: Gone with the wind(and water, I might add).

Washington's political landscape was changed by Katrina. The balance of power has somehow shifted, and nobody knows yet what the new one will be. But it's safe to say that the president might have lingered a little too long on his summer vacation.

Cognitive dissonance was going on for the rest of the country, too, as we watched a beguiling, beautiful city drown because of an utterly predictable tragedy. Nobody will forget this summer in a hurry.

Maybe it's because I was born in July that I love summer and hate to see it go. When its light fades into night, it seems like a small death. Goodbye to corn, blueberries, sprigs of mint from the earth. But soon the thirst for lemonade will fade and apple cider sticks will be more like it.

When the crisp chill of fall scents the air, you wonder what else born of summer might suddenly die. Will a May-to-September romance make it through the other seasons, or is it like an annual flower - meant to last just a short life?

Coming from California, I was once under the impression that life was one long summer. And it didn't seem so special. Now that I've lived in Washington and Baltimore for a dozen years, I know each season has a mood and a reason that set off the others in a design that feels complete.

So I'm sure I'll get into a swing - an autumn rhythm - soon enough. And Baltimore looks lovely in October, even if you start closing the windows one by one.

But give me summer any day.

Jamie Stiehm is a reporter for The Sun.

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