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MARTHA SEZ: Where has the summer gone?

August 30, 2013
Lake Placid News

Lord Rameses of

Egypt sighed

Because a summer

evening passed;

And little Ariadne cried

That summer fancy

fell at last

To dust; and young

Verona died

When beauty's hour

was overcast.

Theirs was the bitterness

we know

Because the clouds of hawthorn keep

So short a state,

and kisses go

To tombs

unfathomably deep,

While Rameses and Romeo

And little Ariadne sleep.

-John Drinkwater

I love the poem quoted above, because that's how I always feel at this time of year. Where does the summer go?

Some children have already gone back to school - in August! Now, that is just wrong. Even the day after Labor Day is too soon for summer to be officially over.

It's the same thing every year. July goes quickly enough, but August? Forget it. One day it's August first, and the next it's clear and cool, drain the pool, back to school, and so on.

People get into arguments about this, as if anyone had any control over the weather. If I say "I hate to see summer end," someone else is bound to respond, "Oh, not me! I just can't wait for those cool, crisp days. Fall is my favorite time of year."

To the best of this person's seriously flawed recollection, the cerulean blue skies of Indian summer, combined with peak leaf season, last a long, long time. In reality, however, Indian summer is a brief and beautiful last fling, a last chance to get out and enjoy the woods and mountains before Old man Winter pitches camp and settles his stumps for a good five or six months of extreme and unusual Adirondack winter weather. Adirondack winter weather is always extreme and unusual, by its very nature.

As my friend Sandy from Hygiene, Colorado, once remarked, "You people back East drive around in the daytime with your headlights on all winter."

"You can always put more clothes on, but you can't keep taking clothes off." This bit of homey wisdom is the biggest argument in favor of winter.

Yes, I reply, but what's your point? In summer, you could live outside. The earth is hospitable. Certainly, you would incur several thousand bug bites from black flies, no-see-ems, mosquitoes and a host of other insect pests, both winged and creepy-crawly, but temperatures would be favorable to sustaining life as we know it. On the other hand, you stay outside long enough in winter, you die. There won't be any bugs biting, but there will be frostbite.

When we discuss our season preferences we can get quite huffy, so it's good to remember that it's all just talk. No one can even predict the weather here, much less make it do what we want it to.

This is the time of year when house cats - those who can get outside-go into high gear on vermin control, dragging in and stockpiling tiny carcasses for themselves and their loved ones. This is of course in addition to the live rodents they deliver and set free inside the domicile, in case we somehow run out of mice during a dry spell.

The other night when I was sleeping, Jupiter must have gone out and slaughtered a sparrow where it was roosting on a branch and then carried it inside for Orangey to pluck and debone. Jupe doesn't really care for fresh game the way Orangey does, and Orangey retired early from serious hunting, so the two have worked out an arrangement that suits them both.

I spent the morning sweeping up feathers and puffs of down, singing "Alouette, gentille alouette, je te plumerai." You wouldn't think the cats could distribute the plumage so evenly around the whole apartment.

I still can't get that song out of my head.

On a side note, I find it odd that when I sing it seems there is always someone pointing out to me that I am "in the wrong key." How do these people know? Maybe that is the key I meant to be in.

Fond as I am of Jupiter and Orangey, I can't help but think that they, and cats in general, are born psychopaths. Many normal humans like to hunt, for example, but you don't see them throwing wild turkeys and pheasants, or white-tailed deer, for that matter, around the house the way the kitties do, or placing them in your bed as a gift.

Well, I'd better get outside and enjoy what's left of the summer. Have a good week.



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