All summer, I have felt poised on the cusp of a memory I can’t quite place. I have found bits and pieces of it, here and there, over the weeks: in the turning of the valleys from grey-blue to green, all in a rush of sunlight; in long drives on familiar roads, special roads, with special destinations; in the eyes of women I’m still surprised to know and be known by; in the deep and resting stillness of the mountains (always the mountains). But these are only pieces.
It’s turning cool, now, in the evenings. Sometimes I’m glad of it–the breeze in my window at night smells like home, and the humidity of the summer fades. There is such a laughing energy in the crisp air that makes me want to run and run and never stop, until my feet turn to wings and I leap from mountaintop to mountaintop. Sometimes, though, I just want the heat of midsummer back. I miss how good and alive it feels to dance in a studio that’s not air-conditioned, where the sticky July air turns my movements into grace and sweat and a litheness I don’t always have. I miss feeling like the days will last forever.
I’ve thought a lot, this summer, about memories. The dance studio at night, roll-up door open to the outdoors and puffs of cottonwood fluff sifting into the corners. The first time the overture plays and I feel the same heady rush and desire I felt at just-fourteen, in the wings on opening night before our first run of Mary Poppins, when I first knew that dance was magic. The bit from Giselle with the ballottés, which always makes me smile. Driving through Shelburne in the afternoon when everything is golden. Sitting cross-legged in the grass, knees touching, tired, joyful, full of feelings I didn’t know how to say. The gratitude, the disbelief at how I belong. There are a lot of memories.
I love the summer. I love the fall too, with every bit of my autumnal heart. But these days of in-between, when summer begins to fail but before the burnished light of autumn has come full in to replace it, are hard. It is hard to watch the virid cloak over the mountains turn dusty.
I wonder, sometimes, if I’ll ever get used to the changing seasons. The turn from summer to autumn always feels like such an ending, even though I know that autumn itself will be more beautiful than I can imagine, here at the end of summer’s heavy, pulsing life. Even though I know that after fall comes winter, and after that, spring again, and summer, and on. Does the seasons’ shift ever feel normal? Will I ever learn to see summer winding down without scrambling to pull it all back into my arms?
Time passes so quickly. I am leaving the space of summer, rushed into the rites of the season’s passage, but the ritual is not yet complete and I am not yet let forth on the other side of it, in the blaze of autumn. I stand disoriented and grasping, for these few in-between weeks. It is a liminal space, a hazy middle-ground as foggy as the ridgeline I drive after dark, all these glimmering constellations strung out around the curving moon, hidden behind the mist.