Summer’s end

I am keenly aware tonight that summer (in the academic sense) is at an end.

And I am not melancholy, although this poem, one of my favorites by Houseman, certainly is:

XXXIX (from Last Poems by A.E. Houseman)

When summer’s end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.
The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.
From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.
And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.
The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.
They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.
So here’s an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer’s parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.


My poor parched back yard.

As I write this evening near 8 o’clock, the cicadas are buzzing, their cries filling the cool evening air.  Looking west from the window of my study, over the roof of SLU High, I see a few clouds backlit by the dying sun, and a baby blue sky as the backdrop.

I’ve spent the last three hours outdoors, washing Ingrid the Volvo and sprucing up the leather seats after scrubbing the floormats and vacuuming the car, barbecuing charred meats (actually, burgers cooked medium with Montreal steak seasoning, sauce, and Cheddar cheese), reading a book about Her Majesty the Queen of England, teasing Samson, and generally enjoying the delight of a cool summer evening.

Samson begs at the table.

My morning did not start well, as I had to call in ill to church, thanks to a wonky gastric system.  By noon I was feeling better, so I ate some toast, then headed to the office.  I got through about 60 emails, dusted my desk, prepped a syllabus for my 11 a.m. class tomorrow, filed a number of things, worked through a pile of music, and proofed the print calendar that goes to press tomorrow.  And then I drove up Big Bend to my manicure place.

Also today I’ve pressed my new shirt for tomorrow (one to be joined by a new tie and pocket silk), finished more laundry, cleaned house a bit, and watered flower beds.

Self-portrait after dinner.

Summer’s end is a portentious time, one filled with hope and possibility and expectation.  I certainly expect that this will be a fine year at Webster University.  I think that my colleagues and I are ready for some challenge that lies ahead of us.  And I’m looking forward to meeting a new class of freshmen tomorrow, and to starting three new voice students very soon.

Shrouding all I did and do today is that sense that ‘school starts tomorrow.’  When I was a kid, this day, and especially this evening, was filled with anticipation.  All these years later, it still is.  And I am glad this is so.

Here’s another poem for the end of summer.

Ingrid the Volvo is washed and shined.
Burgers for dinner, along with purple potatoes and some lime pickles. Grapes were the dessert.
My Samson.
And Samson begs some more.

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