On each Fourth of July evening for my entire childhood, while me and my cousins ran with sparklers, caught fire flies in a jar, and roasted marshmallows in the embers of the charcoal fire, my father would boldly proclaim in all of his Irish charm, “Fourth of July the summer is over!” This announcement would momentarily stop us in our tracks before we called back, oh no, it’s just beginning! And we would carry on relishing in the excitement of the many summer enjoyments ahead. We were sure there would be more beach days, weekend barbecues, summer guests and late-night storytelling to come. And there was.
For some reason my father’s announcement always startled me. I still remember how it sent a chill down my spine. What did he mean? What omen did the message carry, if any? My father was a knowledgeable man, a man of deep thought and maybe most importantly to my feeling of shocked wonder, a man who focused on and understood the passing of time. There had to be more to it than Irish folklore or a teasing, torment to our fun for him to make such a declaration. It haunted me.
Decades later, after the 2019 Fourth of July, as I sit on my deck sipping my very early morning coffee overlooking the property, I notice the first bloom is off the flowers in the many beds, tiny yellow leaves float down on the manicured lawn and the cicadas chirp their long song to the heat of the morning, it comes to me! There is a seasonal transition taking place! Although there will be a second late summer bloom in the flower beds and many more trips to the beach, family barbecues, and weekend visitors, summer is not over, but she is surely winding down.
As I sit and sip, I begin to ponder how this transition applies to life, my life, and the secret message unfolds. The wonders and the excitement of the beginning of a season and the promise it holds, its first bloom; and then almost unnoticeably, a quiet transition begins to take place, if it is recognized, that signals a turning point, an ending of sought that offers the opportunity for a marvelous second bloom within the same season.
In the slight breeze that begins to blow, I hear my father’s voice whisper softly in my ear, “Fourth of July, the summer is over.”