The blogosphere is full of elegiac posts about the end of summer today. Here, it's as if September 1 flipped a switch and it's crisp and blustery and there are local apples at the co-op. Yesterday, I biked to work in street clothes for the first time since May. There's one brief wooded stretch over the creek on my ride home that smells just like the end of every summer of my childhood, loamy and secret like the overgrown passage next to our neighbor's garage before the leaves started to fall. Like a fort in the forest when you have already had to start back to school and your jeans are too new and your shoes are too stiff.
We went to the State Fair, another harbinger of summer's end for anyone who grew up around here, over the weekend. We wound our way through the animal barns, checking out the frilled and extravagant chickens, the roosters with their alarmingly genital headgear, the velvet-eared goats, the recumbent, redolent swine. We ate french fries. The Brit could only stand about an hour of the talent show--that was the entire pre-teen division--and I can't say I totally blame him, though I would have stayed to the bitter end just to be illuminated by the fireworks. It's hard to watch painted and primped little girls screaming their heads off about love and disillusionment and ambition and shaking their butts in pursuit of a stage career. These kids are my worst nightmare as a voice teacher. You want to encourage kids who are talented and who love to perform, but the training for girls so easily turns them into perma-smiling pageant plastics with sexy outfits and phony ponies in their hair. Fortunately the judges gave the first prize to a kid who wrote and performed his own piano sonata. That gives me hope.
I plundered old alumni rags this weekend for more book recommendations, looking specifically for the submissions by the hilarious, cranky old professor who taught my Milton class. Now every day I feel showered by gifts when campus mail is delivered. I have Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson, An Equal Music by Vikram Seth, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (whose name, incidentally, I love), and Memento Mori by Muriel Spark, which is a 1960 paperback edition with a fabulous cover that I will scan directly. I also have The Legend of John Hornby, which was central to another book I just read, Elizabeth Hay's Late Nights on Air. A stack of books feels like back-to-school. It's also part of an item on my List for this year, a non-specific item about using libraries more and reading new books. I have always read a lot but had been in a rut for awhile, not actively seeking different things to read. That's changing now that it's time to get cozy.
An unrelated item: we finally started smoking the crack that is Mad Men and this is making it harder to go out and get some exercise in the evening.
And I'm eating what might be the last good caprese of the year. In autumn, even salad can be melancholy.