Here, in the Bay Area, the weeks following Labor Day offer our best chance for summer weather, promising hotter days, brighter skies. Other beaches, other cities, other streets, experience traditional summer months head-on, feel summer heat as desperate and sharp, taste its steady beat, hear it as sturm und drang, but here we walk in summer's tinseled shadow, grateful for those moments in August when sun escapes the fog.
When September arrives, however, the skies open back to blue, fogs flee, and temperatures bloom. Summer arrives with welcome heat but also with the delicacy of autumnal light. The slanting sun lengthens shadows to purple and litters the sea with glistening gold. I am glad for the sunlit shade.
The land leaves its own shadow on still pond waters as the heat encourages the bloom of algae as green as the last of summer grasses running up to the water's edge. The algae grows with the speed of yeast. As new blooms pushing old into the blue center of the water, the pond shrinks under the weight of its new land shadow. Suddenly it appears as if the field has suddenly grown larger. The algae eaters are happy; the migrating birds are happy, but if you or I were to step on this patch of shadowy field, we would sink into water settled over knee-deep mud.
Better to walk where grasses are drying yellow gold and the shadows of pine trees creeping flat on solid ground. If I lay my body against that black shadow trunk and stretch my arms into the lace tangle of the shadow shade, I can feel embraced by the venerable pine soaring above me. I just lie there, happy to be sandwiched between the real and the imagined, the summer heat and soon-to-come shorter days of winter, crisp sea winds and overheated dusty air rising from the crushed grass below my thighs. I watch the geese flying in wide vees above, listen to the caw-caw-cawing of the big beaked crows.
I close my eyes and imagine that there can be no greater happiness than being here on the shore, lying in new sun. When I rise to walk, I laugh at the geese arranged on the green grass in lines that seem like shadows of the tufted tall palms on the blue sky beyond.
I love this land of truth and shadow. Sky becomes sea, sea becomes land, past becomes future, and the future decays to mulch. I may be a shadow of my former self but that shadow is itself an echo of me unborn. Time mixes up as summer disappears and reappears again, a shadowed heat, rich with the aroma of salt and drying grass.
It's all okay. I say it again and again. It's all okay. Repetition makes it so.