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  • Writer's pictureWILLIAM HAZEL

The Secret Weeks

September offers no immediacy. I am thankful for this truth.

This year brings three clear weeks between the end and perceived end of summer. The season recedes in the slow, natural progression of relations between the sun and horizon. The bottom of the sky lowering each night. The bright of Venus bringing touches of more light to the east each morning. Perhaps I should be saving my sentiments for the calendared perfections, but this time between is my favorite time.

The migrants are still working the feeders. Plenishing in their patience waiting for the north winds aloft to favor their southern routes. The Ruby Throats hover above the backyard table, swallowing the scent of our Sauvignon. The men in their red ascots, the women in glamour green, their jealous eyes greener. All their tiny faces so familiar from these months shared in banana leaf shadows. We seem to agree all of us are travelers, and these should be mindful weeks preparing for changing landscapes.

The tourists have now flown, and the beaches have become heaven. Coastal edge views uninterrupted by tents and brollies. The Virginia sun still burning noses and knees, the hot sand scratching between toes, exfoliating heals, the tide removing foot traces imprinted heavy. The Laughing Gulls mock with high pitched hilarity for all who have gone, now missing the most special time. Sandpipers clamming in their clamorous two steps, at last without need to escape the chase of children. The lower tones of the Ring Bills voice they will stay for the cold to come.

All in the meditation of waves. The shock of cold over every inch gives slowly to a salt bath tepid and soothing to each sense together. To relax the arms, still the legs, open the chest to be held in the slow repeating lulls of water more powerful than all. To be without breath beneath, the weight of air lifted, catching faint sounds of bottlenoses clicking. It is only in the secret weeks, with the water still warm and the crowds at ebb, that one can hear the dolphins and ponder deeper language.

Yet the beaches are empty, even locals have abandoned the silence. Abandoning silence, though, feels more the norm in these times of rush. The question keeps prodding as to why it feels unnormal, practically paradox, to make time for being in the time. Judging by the rapidity of my social scroll coloring from pink to orange, the next distraction seems precedent. Creating space for returning to present moments becomes more abstract. It isn’t merely a blue screen condition, as the markets and the restaurants and the workplace all shove summer aside without transition. A violent displacement. I am brow beaten to follow.

I must choose not to follow. The challenge isn’t in rebuttal, but in the acceptance of the short days between end and perceived end as a whole. I cannot transition overnight. Nor do I want to try. I give myself permission to enjoy the time of closure. To revisit, reclaim the experience of passage in September's genuine grace. Not segue, but slow shift through a time of blooming to a time of seed. I am allowed to wait. And I am allowed to feel whole in the entirety of the transitioning time.

I am grateful for feeling comfortable as a loner lingering in the few precious weeks, secret weeks, I’ll call them, of summer’s end. When the scent of ginger lilies boldens at dusk, attracting locals and migrants the same. When the sun lowers sooner, creating strong west breezes for cooling the scratch of another mosquito fleshing. The winds blow the pests clear, reminding that small pains are both constant and fleeting.

I will hold a wine still white, a tea still sweet, rub the mint between my forefinger and thumb, and dare smell my own insouciance. And succumb to the now of these most beautiful days. When everyone rushes away.

And I stay.

In the secret weeks.

1. Cover photo by Author.

© Copyright William Hazel, 2023

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