December never looks like the end of anything to me. Summer does. Not only for all of the stuff that gets emphatically put on hold -- school, serious movies, professional accountability -- but also because summer is the season we are terminally in the habit of measuring by how close it is to being over -- or maybe this is only another sneaky symptom of growing old. Gosh, these days race by. Even with all of the extra hours of sunlight, and the places and people and fun, fun, fun we cram into them, I catch myself sometimes becoming nostalgic about things before they've even happened.
Then all of a sudden, September: everyone reporting back to their respective narrative arcs, with stories to sell, and reinventions, the parts that do not get laughs, or turn heads, or grow legends often every bit as transformational in the end, even if it is we who must remember them to ourselves. The pocketful of keepsakes -- the pebble, the feather, the nut -- we somewhere misplaced, the forest, the lakeside, the river we forgot to catch on film. The lady in the muumuu, something called piccalilli on the shelves at a roadside store. The crawdad just sleeping -- not pinching or waving its terrifying claws, -- the minnows careening between our legs. The swimming lesson that didn't result in our drowning or becoming an Olympian. The dead sparrow we buried behind the hedges. Relatives we've never met, or will never see again. A sunset lingering so long we can hardly put our finger on its beginning, and never quite believe the voices calling us in when it is done.
All the time in the world, but no time to lose.
Here are ten stories of summer.