A rainy Saturday morning during the last week of summer offers ample time to ponder.
September is one of the loveliest months of the year at our Fogland summer house by the sea, but it heralds a time of radical change.
Nineteenth-century New England poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich wrote:
“The summer comes and the summer goes; / Wild-flowers are fringing the dusty lanes, / The swallows go darting through fragrant rains, / Then, all of a sudden – it snows.”
The light is crystal clear most September mornings, instead of muted by August’s early morning haze and blankets of fog. The wind is still warm, but there is a nip in the air.
I walk the beach in late afternoon wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. There are occasional swimmers and sunbathers, but most folks are content to just sightsee or search for sea glass at low tide.
Sailboats and powerboats dot the Sakonnet, skimming the waters and dodging windsurfers, buoys and lobster pots. A fleet of fishing boats is anchored in the bay.
This is my husband’s favorite fishing season. There is a plentiful supply of scup waiting to bite on clam necks, sandworms and squid; and bluefish race up and down the coast, chasing schools of prey. No bait required – casting or trolling with a lure will hook this silvery fish that can range up to 40 inches in length and weigh up to 20 pounds.
Dashing wildly within the schools of prey, the bluefish bite, cripple and kill the small fish that do not get eaten. Charting the course from above, flocks of seagulls follow the trail and splurge on leftovers.
From my perch on a boulder, I watch the fishermen in their powerboats crank up their engines in hot pursuit of the blues; while on shore, the anglers run up and down the beach following the path of screeching gulls and jumping fish.
Back at the summer place, I no longer seek shelter from the hot sun under the shade of the maple tree. I sit in the sunshine until it becomes too cold and uncomfortable, then I reluctantly go inside.
I know that from now on the days are numbered.
“As summer wanes, we cherish every mild dreamy day,” wrote Gladys Taber, who chronicled her days from Still Cove on Cape Cod. “I love the soft blue haze, I know summer still walks the lanes, but the frosty slipper of autumn is just behind.”