Canada geese are a-gathering already in flocks, though heaven knows most of them won’t be starting south any time soon. Do wild geese and turkeys seek the company of other adults once their season’s young are raised? Does the empty nest give them freedom to socialize with their own age group again, or is it simply preparation for the togetherness of those long flights to warmer climes?
Is it still summer now, as the end of August approaches? Mornings and evenings are crisp and cool, and every day, it seems, someone comes to say good-by, to urge us to have a “good winter,” and to assure us that they will see us again next summer. Some exclaim, “Oh, no!” when they hear the word “September” uttered, but the truth is that September can be summer-warm, just as June can be spring-cool or August fall-nippy. Not only do Michigan seasons interpenetrate (making it impossible to fix a particular, precise day when one ends and another begins), but they frequently vacillate, also, with uncertain inching or lurching back and forth.
We see the passage of time more clearly when we focus on the length of light each day (diminishing now) and mark the progress of the seasons by where the sun appears and disappears each day on our eastern and western horizons. And our community social calendars are clearcut, also. The 4th of July, fly-in at Woolsey Airport, Northport Dog Parade, wine festivals in various venues, and Peshawbestown Pow-wow — all are behind us for 2019. Leelanau Uncaged, Northport’s wonderful street fair of art, dance, food, crafts, and music — that still lies ahead, of course. And between events past and events to come is Labor Day weekend, the latterday traditional bookend of summer, signaling the end of what began with Memorial Day, whatever the weather or calendar try to persuade us to believe.
Summer for this Northport bookseller, my 26th bookstore summer, was a good one. For the first time, I decided to keep the bookstore “dark” on Sundays, even in July. It was hard at first not to keep second-guessing the decision, haunted as I was at first by visions of disappointed tourists outside the shop, but the other side of the coin was the wonderful holiday feeling of carefree summer Sundays. Even if the Artist and I spent a good part of the day doing laundry and mowing grass, it felt good to be off the clock. On Sundays, we were on vacation!
Another good decision from the standpoint of sanity was to limit my Thursday Evening Author events to five and to schedule them every other week. Compared to having TEA every week for 11 consecutive weeks, as I did in 2018 for my bookstore’s 25th anniversary year — a frantic pace! — this year, with an off-week between every two events, I was much better able to relax and enjoy more fully each author’s visit, from Kalamazoo poet Jennifer Clark to Leelanau essayist and seer Kathleen Stocking, on to fiction with Detroit writers Dorene O’Brien and Michael Zadoorian, and wrapping up with former journalist and university prof Charles Eisendrath.
And now, with only one week of August remaining, even my reading has taken on a more relaxed feel. Our little reading circle, convened lo these many years ago now to wrestle together through James Joyce’s Ulysses, will get together post-Labor Day to discuss Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Not altogether, I’m thinking as I read, a complete departure from Ulysses, both the unwinding of both stories limited to a single day, with characters’ stream-of-consciousness thoughts enriching the passing hours and swelling them to a fullness most of us experience in our own lives only infrequently.