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Wednesday, August 16, 2017


What happened to summer? Suddenly Memorial Day and the 4th of July seem so far away. Signs of summer’s passing are all around us.

Summer passed so quickly. Maybe it is the short summers on the northern plains that makes time seem to fly. Or, maybe the busyness in which we immerse ourselves that distracts us. So much to do; so little time. Rush, rush, rush.

There is a perennial contradiction. It is easy to love summer for its warmth and breezes but hate it for its heat and humidity. This, too, becomes a distraction from the passing of time. In the blink of an eye we soon trade the heat for the cold.

Summer is here and then quickly gone. Gardens, flush with offerings of fruit and vegetables, begin to look weary. They bore the summer’s heat to bring us good things -- lettuce, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, beets and everyone’s favorite -- zucchini. It seems just the other week we were scurrying to cover seedlings to guard against frost. Now we scurry to guard against insects, rabbit and deer.

Kids’ summer swimming lessons give way to late summer water play. Ignoring blue lips and goose bumps berry-brown kids splash the day away plying their new-found skills.

Where does the time go? Soon the kids will awaken to a new school year bringing a collective sigh from haggard parents. Time rolls on as surely as the sun rises.

Summer’s end is in sight. Farmers know it. Most hay is cut, bailed and collected. Signs of harvest appear. Those who sow early, reap early. Swathers and combines make their first tentative passes. Acres of wheat bow before the combines. Canola lies curing in long sun-drenched rows. Sunflowers turn their yellow faces to the rising sun tracking its inevitable course across the sky.

Where has the time gone? Young birds, nest-bound only a few weeks ago, awkwardly transit the twilight zone between fledgling and adulthood. One moment they stretch youthful wings in stuttering flight. The next moment they wait expectantly, like any adolescent, badgering their parents for food.

Even the insects sense the passing of summer. Young crickets rehearse their chirpy songs on warm evenings preparing for the cooler autumn days ahead. Ants work unobtrusively without ceasing at their God-given tasks.

Summer passes quickly, but not quickly enough for the neighbor’s dog. Patiently he endures one hot summer day after another. With tail and tongue drooping, he surrenders to the heat flopping down on a patch of cool damp earth hoping for relief.

You know summer’s end is near when you find buffalo berries and chokecherries ripe on the bush. Only yesterday the fragrance of blossoms drifted on the spring air. Today, nestled plump and ripe amidst the leaves, they all but cry out “Pick me.” Thoughts of summer will return when spreading chokecherry jelly on toast in January.

Vacations, so long in the planning, fly by to join a host of other memories. Fun times, long anticipated, pass quickly only to make room for the next calendar event.

When the sloughs dry up and ducklings and goslings mature and fend for themselves; when the walleye in the lakes seek deeper, cooler water; when the sun rises a little later and sets a little sooner one wonders where has the summer gone.

The wise psalmist prays, “Teach us to number our days.” We are allotted only so many days in a lifetime and will travel down life’s road only once. Why not take time to savor the moments before they slip away forever?


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Now and then it is wise to take a break. Few activities are more gratifying, or taxing, than putting pen to paper to record one’s thoughts and sharing them with others. Many readers of “The Passing Scene” have become good companions as they regularly open their newspaper or e-mail anticipating a glint of insight or flash of excitement. For such followers I am forever grateful.

That said, do not be concerned when you miss your weekly dose of “The Passing Scene” for a few weeks. This is only temporary. Trust me. It will be back in late September.


Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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