For weeks now, we’ve been bundling Bingo into a coat before we head out the door, and our trips to the park have become filled with detours to find the crunchiest leaves. This morning we turned on the furnace. I’m finally willing to call it: summer is over.
I know, I know, summer has been over for awhile. More than awhile, even. But I’ve been ignoring all the signs, scoffing as the stores change their decor from “summer fun”, to “back to school”, to “Halloween”. (I’m still scoffing at the stores who’ve started with the red and green.) I’ve been clinging to every last remnant of summer, shards of sunlight, the music of the ice cream truck, trips to the wading pool, fresh fruit at the farmer’s market.
This love affair with summer is new. I mean, summer and I have always been on good terms (who doesn’t enjoy short sleeves?), but I was largely unconcerned with the changing of seasons. So it turns, etc. But then Bingo came along, and suddenly everything changed.
Summer doesn’t just mean an increased air conditioning bill anymore. It means hours spent outside, finding the right mix of sun and shade, beating the heat by stepping into the ice cold water of a wading pool staffed by bored teenagers, shaking sand from every piece of your clothing, getting your hands sticky on ice cream that melts faster than you can eat it, always smelling sunscreen on your skin, and waking up and going to sleep while it’s still light out, even while pushing bedtime with another trip to the park.
Summer with Bingo means remembering how summer felt as a kid, when the entire season was a vacation. Listening to kids playing in the park, I can close my eyes and remember exactly what it was like to be right there: caught up in an adventure, a war, or a secret that only a select band of under-supervised kids was privy to. I didn’t realize that I had forgotten that feeling. Now that I remember, it’s hard to let it go. Because I know that there are only so many summers when I’ll be invited to join in Bingo’s adventures. Though she’s unlikely to have the freedom to roam that I had as a kid, there will be a day when school ends and she sets out into the sun without me. So I’ll savour every summer day that comes to me, and every moment of childhood that I’m invited to share.
Here’s on to autumn, with its own magic– and the opportunity to steal Halloween candy from a kid too young to notice.