It’s 5:01 pm on July 23. Thirty-two days ago was the summer solstice. It’s 64.9 F.
I’m standing on the back deck of our house at Rainbow Lake. I’m chilled. I have a thin blanket over my shoulders like a cheap superhero. It’s one of those free “blanket” covers they give you on long distance flights. (I didn’t take it without asking). There is a cool breeze coming off the lake. To my left, the leaves of the Aspen tree shake and flutter in the wind like each leaf is held to the branch by a gossamer thread, ready to break.
All around me I am seeing green. I can see tiny slices of the lake water through the trees. We’ve decided to not trim away the vegetation. It’s cuts down on the view but is better for the ecology of the shoreline.
It’s July 23.
Seventy-two hours ago I was slowly walking down 5th Ave. in New York City. The temperature was 95 F. and the humidity was at least 176%. I couldn’t breathe. I was just told I had a viral bronchitis thing going on. Wrong place to be with a chest issue. Ozone alerts were in the red.
My eye picks up something out of the ordinary in the mid-distance to the lake. Something a mere four meters from where I stood on the deck.
I’m looking at a dozen or so maple leaves that have turned red.
Is this really happening?
I just put the snow shovel on a nail in the garage only several weeks ago. I just swept away the spider webs from our kayaks and took them to the dock. And yet, I’m looking at a harbinger of autumn.
Don’t get me wrong. I love autumn. I love the scarlets, yellows and reds…and the cool, bug free weather. But…
It’s July 23.
I don’t even know where my swimming shorts are stored, but I never lost sight of my green fleece vest. I’m not wearing it now. It’s in the laundry after eleven months of constant wear. I thought it was time for a wash.
Is this maple tree a genetic mutation? Did lightning strike it while we were away? Is someone playing sick joke on me?
I’m leaving the deck now and going back to my Rand McNally Atlas. I’ll flip to Florida. I’ll put my finger on Fort Meyer. I’ll bet the maples haven’t begun to turn red there…yet.
After all, it’s July 23.