A common theme among summer folks here in New Hampshire when they see each other at church, is "Where has the summer gone?" "It's flown so fast. July 4th seems like just yesterday, and now, suddenly, it's mid-August."
It's a season we don't want to end. We waited so long for it, through the never-ending winter. But now it is full August, and many of the things we'd intended to do, we haven't done. Family and other visitors have come and gone, and now it's just us. That sweet time of re-creation is almost gone. The boating, the swimming, the wading, the writing we haven't done as we'd thought we'd do. The various goals we'd had in our minds have not been achieved. It will be all over, and all too soon.
The sense of regret comes all too easily. The beginnings of that painful sense of loss. Of mountains to climb, of people to see, of important things to write, of daily, consciously drinking in the wonders of the lake, the hills, the cabin, the quiet.
But, as these days I have lived, pass by before my eyes, I realize there's something else that is the opposite of a season's fading, of expectations not fulfilled, of endings.
And that is, strangely and wonderfully, the realization of fulfillment, of depth, of color, and richness, and quality.
The long look down our pathway to the lake, I am aware of something wonderful that comes with August. It is a clearing of the air. It is the bluing of the sky and of the water, and the deep greening of the Freedom Hills across the lake.
As I sit here on the deck just now, I was approached tentatively, by my beautiful, grown-up, now married granddaughter - my erstwhile traveling companion on my last journey to Africa. "I know you're missing your canoe, and that you're not to paddle yet because of the little injury to your hand, but would you be willing to be a passenger in the canoe this afternoon, and let me be the paddler? I know it wouldn't be the same, but it's a way we could be together on the lake and river you love, and to enjoy the splendor of this day..."
So sweet. Such a kindly offer, that would be a treasured time for me, and maybe for her. "Of course," I said, "I would love such an excursion with you." So in an hour so so, we'll do it.
There it was, right before me, wonder of wonders - time together with one of the most precious people on earth to me. I can point out the mountain peaks, and on the river show her the sudden stands of brilliant, scarlet cardinal flowers that have just come out in several spots along the river bank.
We can talk out loud, of important things between us, a 90-year-old grandfather and a 25-year-old granddaughter.
And who knows what else? A hundred things of more than passing importance on this deep and stunningly beautiful August day.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES