This is my favorite time of year (I don’t like hot weather). Temperatures and dew points drop. The crispness of the fall air and the palette of the leaves seem to perfectly frame so many wonderful locations. There is also an energy for both work and play after the dog days of August, and increasingly September, that makes activities almost effortless.
Yet, it can also be melancholy. This is when many cottages and boats are put away for the season. It is the inexorable arrival of the expiration date that has been stamped on every summer venue.
With experience on the Maine coast, a New Hampshire lake and the Vineyard, it is interesting to note that despite the difference in the tone of the properties, the “end of the season” feeling is remarkably similar.
|...to things we will miss during winter.|
Perhaps even more so than with birthdays, there is some taking of stock. How many summer ambitions were realized? How many goals were planned but put off, until time slipped away? There is even the uncomfortable realization that many of the best moments of the season came out of sheer luck – a great day trip, for example, that happened only because several random factors lined up.
And for many who are older during the time of closing, the stakes are higher. There is the often unspoken “Will I still be here in the spring to open?” Or will close friends? Regardless of our age, we run through, almost zoetropically, moments of past summers and friends who shared them, and then race forward into the unknown. How will we be different next time we are here?
|Here my great-grandfather on the right at his cottage on the Connecticut shore.|
|Some things go in; some stay out.|
|Sheets go, quilts remain.|
This is also the time to plan for next summer. Painters, brush-clearers, and carpenters are lined up for spring. (An early commitment insures that the work will be done; demand will soar as next summer looms)
|Making Arrangements for the Winter and Next Spring|
|Sometimes a small rock is quickly grabbed as a remembrance.|
Then there is the actual act of driving away. This can take several attempts, for there is always “one last look at the view” before you all actually head out, combined with making sure every window is really shut (although catching the ferry does not afford one such capriciousness, as reservations are a sacred contract). Every milestone on the trip is painted with the same macabre “last of the season” brush.
|From our archives: A Vineyard beach...|
This is also true for the sailing season, providing of course, that the boat is not going south for the winter.
At the boat yard not only was this the very last day of launch service, but we were the very last launch pick-up.
|We reminisced while putting things away. Tasks were done, first quickly and then increasingly slowly.|
...and then a few minutes after that.
It was getting dark. Newport and the Newport Bridge were lighting up. It could not be put off any longer. There were trains back to NYC to be caught.
He generously gave us a “victory lap”.
So another season concluded for all of us. But the sad feelings always fade away as plans for the next season start to take shape on the ride to the train.
On one hand, I sometimes feel as if we live our entire lives every day. On the other, we have the opportunity to get wiser and live better. Each tick of the metronome - each hour, day, season, year, and yes, generation - reminds us of the sublime substance of time.