The telltale signs are here. Leaves are changing colours and beginning their descent to the cold, hard ground.
Every church, community group and small town within a 100-kilometre radius of here has announced its harvest supper.
The city’s teens have moved on from their hangout spots in the 7-Eleven and Tim Hortons parking lots (during school hours, at least) and reluctantly returned to their studies.
These last few days, my mind has been constantly playing back a snippet of sound, direct from oldies radio: Brian Wilson’s young falsetto voice, reminding us that it “won’t be long till summertime is through.”
At least we have the minute consolation of knowing it will be another couple of months before things turn really ugly around here.
So far, the worst part is waking up in the morning in a chilled state and realizing that the days of sleeping with minimal layers are behind us for another year.
Our small house has no air conditioning, but we’ve developed a rather effective cooling system using a network of fans and open windows.
Now we’ll have to see how well we do at keeping the house warm for the next eight months.
(The new high efficiency furnace our landlord recently installed — replacing the original, which was supposedly running at 4 per cent efficiency — should help.)
Each year I mourn the loss of summer, and certainly more so now than when I was a kid.
Back then, I was content to spend the entire season indoors, watching daytime TV and playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for as long as I was allowed.
Tellingly, during my childhood I wore long pants through most of the summer, so rarely did I venture from the cool A/C into the hot sun.
Fortunately, my mom — or after she returned to work, our sitters — tried to coax me out of these habits, first with the power of suggestion and later with strict time limits and organized activities.
Day camps, the city soccer league, trips to the pool — nothing seemed to work.
Nowadays, I try to make the most of each summer. Despite the fact that I now work full-time, I think I pack far more into the season than I did when I had two straight months to kill.
This summer, we swam at the Phyllis Dewar pool, ate at the Burger Cabin, rode our bikes through Wakamow Valley and around the city, drove to Gravelbourg for a day, visited friends on their farm near Strasbourg, spent an evening at Douglas Provincial Park with other friends, and saw Paul McCartney perform live at Taylor Field.
Two weeks ago, with summer already on the wane, we toured the South Country, driving in a loop that took us to the Willow Bunch Museum, Aust’s General Store in Big Beaver, Castle Butte, and finally to the Big Muddy Inn in Bengough, for a much-needed meal before our drive home.
When music experts discuss the song I mentioned above — All Summer Long, by the Beach Boys — they often regard its lyrics as metaphorical, as if the end of summer is meant to represent the passing of the teenage years.
Maybe that’s what Brian Wilson was referring to when he wrote those words.
Perhaps he was just sticking to the tried-and-true, fun-in-the-sun formula that helped his band score hit after hit back in the early ‘60s, before his creative genius truly began to shine.
Or maybe he just knew something that we often forget — make the best of what you have, while you have it.
Won’t be long till summertime is through ...
Follow Joel on Twitter @JVDV88.