Summer’s Almost Gone

It rained in L.A. today. At least enough to get your car dirty. Yes, the air is so bad that when we finally get precipitation all the pollution ends up on your car and you’ve got to get it washed, it’s the exact opposite of climates where it rains on a regular basis.

Not that I saw the rain. I’m not an early riser, but I saw the remnants when I woke up, the wet concrete, the blackened street.

And it’s gray. And cool. It hasn’t been in the seventies for weeks.

But it’s gonna be in the high eighties again soon, you see fall is the hottest time of the year in Southern California, but by then the days are getting shorter and the light…

I always wait for it in August, when the light changes. The sun has fallen in the sky and it’s not quite as bright, the light is kind of yellow, and you realize fall is coming.

Now fall in Los Angeles lasts a long time. One can even argue there is no winter, we never get snow. Oh, of course every decade or two there’s a dash in Topanga Canyon, at the far reaches of the Valley, but although we see the forties, it’s never in the thirties during the day. And therefore it’s like an extended beginning of school. When it’s still new, when you’re still decompressing, before it becomes a complete grind.

Then again, when I used to go to school, and I’m never going back, we never started before Labor Day. School in August? Unheard of. August was still SUMMER!

The summer ended with the Labor Day picnic at Jennings Beach, the Kentucky Fried Chicken and the corn on the cob and the doughnuts. And then you knew in a day or two, you’d be back in school. Although it wasn’t an abrupt transition, there was always a down week in which your mother took you shopping for clothes and you went to the discount outlet for supplies and then, you were in the thick of things.

But one thing about August…the water was warm! I remember going on an extended canoe trip on the Allagash. We started in June on Moosehead Lake, in Maine. And we jumped in the water…

One expects the ocean on the north shore of Massachusetts to be cold, but not a lake.

But when the trip was over at the end of July, the water in the lake was not quite tepid, but it was comfortable.

Before that canoe trip I went to summer camp. First day camp, and then three years of overnight camp. There were two sessions, each a month long, July and August, and the first year we went in July but then we learned all the good things happened in August, so we switched months. The Olympics were the highlight of the camp year. And the closing ceremony, with handmade boats on the lake. You didn’t want to miss those. But by the last week or two, it would be cold. You’d be huddled under your blanket…you know, when you go into the fetal position and scrunch the blanket around you.

For a while there it seems like summer will never end. And then one day while you’re just minding your own business, exalting in the sun and the heat, you realize it’s almost gone. Mother Nature has been grinding the gears of the seasons and it’s inevitable, days will get shorter and cold will come.

And at first this is a phenomenon. A new school year, looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations. The summer seems so long. But as you get older the calendar speeds up, to the point where when summer begins, you’re already contemplating its ending.

But these past two years have been so weird. It’s not like I’ve fully enjoyed the summer, grasped it, gone on vacation, and now it’s going to be fall already? September? Really?

And live in L.A. long enough and you yearn to return to the east. A week or two back there cures you of the desire, the day when your plans are canceled because of the rain seals the deal, but the rebirth in the spring is such a thing, and you take advantage of the summer, knowing it will be gone.

In the west we’ve got higher mountains. But on the east coast, all the snow can melt in a day. You can be skiing one day, and the next day it warms up and rains and the lifts close, it’s all over. In the east you’ve got to get your days in, you never know when the season might end. And so many days are crappy, with bad weather, ice, you’ve got to take advantage of the good ones. But in the west? The ski season is endless, Mammoth is usually open until July. And ice? It doesn’t really exist.

So out west…there aren’t these lines of demarcation that there are everywhere else. Everything is available all the time, assuming you’re willing to travel. Then again, westerners think nothing of driving for eight or ten hours, that’s anathema on the east coast.

So you wake up one day and you realize time is passing.

But it gets even worse, you’re being replaced along the way, they keep making new people. I watch these European TV shows with adults and they were born in the seventies, the eighties. Really? It’s like I’m already over the hill.

And I also realize so much of what was important to me is not only unimportant to younger generations, they’ll never even know about it. And it’s all about touchstones, points of familiarity, that’s why you can date someone decades younger, even marry them, but it’s never completely satiating. You start singing the theme to “Car 54” and they’re blank-faced. They know nothing about Toody and Muldoon.

And when the sun is shining brightly most of these thoughts do not go through my head. But when the world starts to die, when the light starts to fade and the grass and the trees begin to wither, I’m reminded, you’re only here for a brief period of time and then you’re gone, forgotten.

Oh, when you’re young you think you’re gonna leave your mark. And then you reach an age when you realize it’s all a joke, no one will be remembered, and even two thousand years is the blink of an eye in the universe, and it’s all about being happy while you’re here. And money can buy you love, but get old enough and physical items become irrelevant. Oh, you want food and a roof over your head, but when someone old buys a fancy car to show off, you laugh, because you realize they haven’t gotten the memo, they still think these things matter, that we’re paying attention, wondering where we are on the totem pole, but we’re not. We’re just people trying to hang on, looking for our way, for some good times, some laughs, it’s all about experiences, and many of those you don’t even have to pay for, they can be as simple as playing with a toddler or reading a book on a porch.

Not that I’d give any advice. No one ever listens. Or they buy what you’re saying not realizing every individual is different and you’ve got to find your own way, that’s the journey of life, that too many don’t take. You don’t want to get old and realize you did it their way, instead of your way.

But each generation has to find out for itself. Each generation thinks it’s indomitable, infallible, knows everything, until it suddenly realizes it does not. With age comes wisdom, you learn how much you don’t know, and you focus on locating yourself in the universe more than your place in the rat race.

But the big wheel keeps on turning, the Earth keeps spinning, the seasons plow on whether you’re paying attention or not.

But then one day you notice. And you want to put a drag on the system. But you can’t, all you can do is awake and observe. And it’s satisfying, but it’s also painful.

One Response to Summer’s Almost Gone


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  1. Pingback by Quote of the Day – Yahooey's Blog | 2021/10/06 at 15:01:42

    […] only unimportant to younger generations, they’ll never even know about it.” — Bob Lefsetz, “Summer’s Almost Gone,” The Lefsetz Letter […]

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  1. Pingback by Quote of the Day – Yahooey's Blog | 2021/10/06 at 15:01:42

    […] only unimportant to younger generations, they’ll never even know about it.” — Bob Lefsetz, “Summer’s Almost Gone,” The Lefsetz Letter […]

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