The last of the summer wine.
The last days of summer.
The last rose of summer.
All of these phrases are woven into our collective vocabulary. And why is that? Because there is something bittersweet about the end of summer, which generally in the South begins in late September and lasts until the first nips of frost tinge the land sometimes in early October, other years as late as Thanksgiving.
Yes. We are at that strange juncture of the end of summer and the cusp of autumn.
As John Keats wrote in“To Autumn,” it is indeed a time of mist of mellow fruitfulness and the bees do make their last flights of fancy and the crops, plump and abundant, are plucked from the fields to our tables.
And while we may not dedicate our autumns to harvesting anymore, there are other cultural touchstones to this time of year that signal the shift into fall.
School is in session, traffic increases and the scent of honeysuckles, jasmine and chlorine are replaced by the nostalgic smell of pencil shavings and the plastic scent of Halloween masks.
The shadows from the trees began to lean and the day dies a long stretched out elegy.
And the old friend sentimentality often reappears in a sense of longing.
Maybe for you sentimentality ushers in a longing for the last days of summer, chasing fireflies barefoot on a thick lawn. Maybe a longing for a onetime summer love. Or maybe a longing for the days of young, when the excitement of a new school year, new friends, a new chance at this life was on the horizon. (Even I, who was far from a dedicated scholar, can’t help but the feel the occasional tug for my alma mater Berry College this time of year.)
It can be a dangerous thing to linger in the past, but it can be just as dangerous as not to recall it at all. Before we all donned titles and had mortgages or car payments, we were once youth and, before that, children.
If you feel the urge to be nostalgic this season go ahead. Take a moment. Reflect. Who were you? Who are you today? What makes you long for something? And, most importantly, who are you becoming?