September, Useless Bay, 9:30 am mile swim
It feels like a stolen morning. Sunlight is casting a squint-bright glaze on the flat water of the bay, it’s high tide, and the summer-house crowds have gone back to their frantic mainland schedules of carpools, private schools, select soccer, and 50-hour a week jobs.
Poor bastards. Me, I’m writing on the beach today, sitting in my towel with a pleasantly soggy swim bum. The water was unusually clear, so I could watch the small perch darting around the sea grass, and globby moonsnails pulling themselves across the bottom as I coasted along the top of the bay.
Am I lucky? You bet. Privileged? Absolutely. Entitled? All I can say is I never expect days like today. Every bright and cloudless dawn is a gift in the Pacific Northwest, especially in September.
The American white pelicans, special visitors to Deer Lagoon these last three years, are beginning to gather for their trip south. The apples I “borrowed” off the trees of a burned-out abandoned house are already crisp-sweet. And there’s even a few maple leaves reddening.
But so far they are only hints of Fall, and I’m glad. Every season begins and ends, a birth and a death every three months. Summer’s end just seems like the stage-four, every-major-organ-has-a-tumor, two-weeks-to-live kind of death.
But a sudden death is always better than suffering.
In a few weeks there will be a morning that feels like someone slammed the door closed on the sun. That day I’ll pack a second swim cap, and wear my lambs wool slippers down to the beach.
But that isn’t today. If I close my eyes and just listen to the short waves washing quietly up on the sand, I can tell myself summer is still young. I have all the time in the world.
–TJ Wiley Forsyth