Monday, September 29, 2008

Death of an American summer

My beautiful city
Every year, when summer gives way to fall, I am assailed by feelings of regret and sadness. It's as if I am losing something precious, losing it forever, and that from here to the rest of my little piece of eternity, all I will have are memories of this lost treasure. Because each summer is a treasure. Each sunny day, where life is easy and relaxed and happy is a precious gift. And when the gift is gone, well...Joni Mitchell said it best: "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"

Willamette River
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the fall equinox is behind us, and the days are shortening at a rapid pace. In Portland, this weekend, we got a wonderful two days of sun and mild temperatures, and even though it is officially autumn, the evenings were like those of the high summer that are alive with people sitting at the sidewalk cafes, talking late into the night, drinking beer, laughing, enjoying life.

View from the Springwater Corridor
I went for a bike ride on Sunday, pedaling first through the surface streets of Southeast Portland, then on the east bank of the Willamette River along the Springwater Corridor. I crossed to the west side over Hawthorne Bridge, took a spin through Waterfront Park, then turned east at the Steel Bridge and headed for home in the Hawthorne district.

Enjoying the good weather at Waterfront Park
As I rode along, I saw my fellow Oregonians out enjoying the good weather. My solipsistic nature no doubt causes me to project my own feelings onto the people around me, but it seemed that as I saw the families riding their bicycles, the readers laying on blankets in the park, the couples strolling along the river, admiring the view, I had the sense that the regret I was feeling was shared by my fellow citizens. Summer is gone, and the dark days of winter are looming.

We're Oregonians, after all, and once you've experienced an Oregon rainy season, you know that weekends like this last one will fade to dreamy memories long about January or February.

But, my regret (and again projecting onto the people around me, their regret) is not solely due to the summer's annual death, but to the death of our American summer. With the pending financial crisis that looms, with banks closing, with a gas panic occurring even now, this very moment, in the southeastern United States, with a Russian bear claw resting on our Tblisi jugular vein, a lack of trust in the American financial system, and a fierce cultural divide within our country, dark days are ahead. And everyone seems to know it.

Adieu, vous bon temps.
So, yes, brothers and sisters, let's raise our glasses today, and let's laugh while we can, for as long as we can. The darkness and gloom of winter are on the way. The winter of our American prosperity, the winter of our hope.

1 comment:

Ridwan said...

Great post brother. I enjoyed PDX in the summer but being an African the coming of winter was a sad affair.

When the rains set in my heart would break. But I miss the change of seasons now. And I miss the scenes of PDX that you describe with such feeling.

Let's hope for a winter of renewal brother ... all around too.

Please pass my Eid greetings to Maty. I expect it will be tomorrow (Tuesday) but if not, then definitely on Wednesday.

Eid Mubarak to you and Maty. And peace to our human family.

Onward! Dade,