Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 25, 2013

Garret Leiva: Then end is near, of summer that is

Local columnist

---- — You can feel it in the air — the Don Henley days are near.

As August dwindles, my mental cassette-tape deck — no digital downloads for this wrinkled gray matter — loops the song “The Boys of Summer.”

Henley’s pop music ode to lost youth, love and summer bums me out. It’s not the dated ‘80s synthesizer sound, but the lyrics:

“Nobody on the road

Nobody on the beach

I feel it in the air

The summers out reach”

Given the road and beach traffic coming this Labor Day weekend, there are still plenty of somebodies in northern Michigan.

And, yes, the humidity says summer air — if not central air conditioning.

It’s still the season of short sleeves and melting Superman ice cream.

However, like an aging rock star, summer’s best days are behind. The festivals and family vacations are over; reduced to souvenir T-shirts, ticket stubs and never-to-be-printed photos.

At this point, forget back-to-school shopping, it’s time to stock up on tacky Christmas lawn ornaments.

While it’s not entirely “empty lake, empty street, the sun goes down alone,” summer regret is near.

Before long the ‘ings — swimming, fishing, tanning, corn-on-the-cobbing — will turn into past-tense summer. You can wear flip-flops in September, but it feels out of step with yellow school buses and maple leaves turning red.

Late August is often CliffNotes summer. I put off three months of sun, surf and sand, and now I’m cramming before fall. I try to get a tan, take in a baseball game, tube down the river and build a bonfire — all before breakfast.

Author Wallace Stegner referred to summer as “days dripping away like honey off a spoon.”

However, late August is chug-a-lug insta-summer; no honey, just a hint of bittersweet regret.

If I were grading my summer effort, I’d give it a B-minus. It wasn’t a do-over failure or Frankie and Annette “Beach Blanket Bingo” material. We did the Cherry Bowl Drive-In, but no chocolate shakes at Don’s Drive-In.

We played tourist in zip codes close to home. Our short summer road trips cut down the Slug Bug, I-Spy and out-of-state license plate games.

I didn’t even see a single Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.

I don’t begrudge autumn; after all, it’s my favorite time of year. However, there is something about summer that makes you step lighter — perhaps it’s the lack of wool socks and thermal underwear.

Not to rush the seasons, but soon enough it will be snow blowers and boots out in the driveway.

Then again, I just may be whistling Don Henley here.