Nostalgia often hits us head on and rather than wash over us it penetrates us like a phantom, forcing its way into our souls. I think for many, the end of summer brings this notion stronger than any other time of the year. Though holidays and other special occasions and other seasons rend memories, summer, particularly the end of it, seems to hit us with force rather than ease over us like an ebbing wave. I know for me it does this.
Perhaps it’s because so many milestones are met at this time of year. Summers passed mark our first day of kindergarten, our first day of middle school, first day of high school, the end of summer flings, the last dip in the local lake (sans clothes?), the last of the green tomatoes fried by our grandmothers not to be seen again for an entire year, the annual buying of school supplies and clothes…Then the first day of kindergarten for our own children, their first summer crush, their first summer job, the annual buying of the school supplies, the last of the week day sleep over parties that keep you awake until the wee hours even if you have to go to work the next morning to earn the money to buy the school supplies.
Summer is a more than a season; it’s a cycle. It sees the beginnings and endings of so many things from our own youth to the raising of our own children to seeing our grandchildren preparing for their first day at preschool or their first day of kindergarten. Summer is comprised of ghosts carrying the nostalgia of days gone by which engulf us; rather than wash over us gently they pierce us…
As I watch the end of another summer approach, I’m visited by these ghosts each time I stop at the local farm stand and buy one more green tomato wondering if it’s the last and remembering the first one my grandmother ever fried for me. They haunt me when I walk through the local department store and watch eyes young and filled with wonder perusing the school supply aisle for the coolest pencils and hippest notebooks. And they hit me head on as I watch my nieces and nephews and grandchildren have that last swim, eat that last charred hot dog before the grill goes in the garage for the winter, run through the sprinklers one more time before the hose is rolled and put away so it doesn’t freeze when Old Man Winter comes through with Jack Frost in tow.
Soon summer will wan into fall and the ghosts will vaporize replaced by the onset of the inevitable onslaught of the holiday rush, harried and stressful. And as we sit with warm beverages in hand wondering if we’ve carved enough pumpkins, baked enough pies, and strung enough twinkle lights, a faint apparition will tickle the edges of our peripheral vision. And we’ll long to feel the ghosts of summers passed forcing their way into our spirits.
(recycled from its original guest posting in 2014 as Ghosts of Summers Passed)