It’s almost here, darkness at noon.

That pastel canard that was fed to you as a child, the tarradiddle that was romanticized over and over in poetry and romantic literature and new season sitcoms is once again being foisted upon us.

Summer doesn’t always fade away slowly in the fading light of evening, accompanied by violins and oboes, and the leaves don’t slowly turn to what the designers at Ralph Lauren call “earth shades.” That’s Disney.

No, it’s more brutal than that. Yes, we have a few sweet leaf spotting moments before the rakes are pulled out, but often it seems to come like the chop of Lizzie Borden’s hatchet, and then just as you’re falling in love with your sweetie on the sand at Old Orchard, the lights go out, and it’s total darkness at noon.

Well, maybe not noon, but soon, just as you’re enjoying a turkey club at Shelby’s in Oakland, sipping pea soup at Erics’ up on College Avenue or having a pre-supper beer at the bar at the Liberal Cup in Hallowell, and when it comes, it comes like a car crash. That scream you heard last night wasn’t a homicide in Sidney. It was the collective shriek of millions of fireflies and crickets dying at the hands of a premature early frost.

One moment you’re at your lake house, or out on the golf course. It’s your average Maine summer, hot and humid, with the air full of mosquitoes, some of which we are now told are as deadly as winged piraña.

Out on the lawn, you’re watching your $25,000 over-bred labradoodle rolling in grass that’s full of deadly tics that have been given your address, and are slowly migrating up from the hurricane wrecked South.

It’s a fine warm day in late September. You find yourself hungry for a three-dip cone of chocolate yogurt. You hop in the car and race to the local ice cream shop, only to find a sign in the window that reads, “Thank you. See you in April.” April in Maine? Get real.

Perhaps your attention is elsewhere, perhaps on the chicanery afoot in Washington, or the Ukraine where Trump’s Sherlock, Rudy Giuliani, is running around in an Uber car looking for Biden clues.

The drama here at home is that summer has just ended. How do I know? Because everything around you, the watermelon, iced tea, delicious cool salads and girls in white linen, have abruptly vanished and been replaced, from Starbucks to Dunkin’, to Panera, with the stuff of an early autumn.

Observe. Your daily beverages, and, I suspect, the toilet paper in public toilets, are infused with pumpkin spice. Yes, pumpkin spice everything: pumpkin spice cereals, lattes, colognes, air fresheners for your bathroom and car, lipsticks, underwear, pillows and slippers, mascaras, and all sorts of candies.

The music on Spotify and iTunes that for older ears once spun Sinatra’s “Summer Wind,” Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Summertime,” suddenly change. Even old faves like Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and my personal favorite, Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out for Summer,” mysteriously give way to Wyclef Jean’s “Gone ‘Till November,” and the most chilling of all, Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

Well, wake up babies, like it or not. September has ended, and summer’s bounty is scattered in the streets, the gutters, and all over your lawn in the mountains of un-raked oak, aspen, birch and maple leaves. Summer has packed up and left town, and it didn’t fade away, did it?

But here’s the truth. It doesn’t matter. It’s gone and October is here. Summer was the girl with dark hair who danced with all the boys; October is the redhead whose eyes across the room never left your face.

It’s the sweetest month of autumn, and if you’re lucky and the sun stays in place long enough, you’ll see why. The great Johnny Mercer said it best in his “I Hate to See October go.”

“Oh, how I hate to see October go
I should be over it now, I know
It doesn’t matter much how old I grow
I hate to see October go.”

 

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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