Summer, still

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 7:45pm

Four years ago on this date I took a photo of the maple at the edge of the yard, noting the amount of sky I could see though its branches in mid-August when two months earlier it had been dense and lush.

The rain that was never quite torrential here had ceased when I went out to compare this year's growth to that record. The grass was wet, the sky grayish-white, and I was surprised to see a pale disc of sun in the west, not so bright it cast sharp shadows but bright enough that it left a pool of dark beneath the maple, a contrast with the green of the freshly cut field beyond it.

The big maple seems to be as it should be, a bit more hearty this year, it, and the earth around it, having been well-fed by long spring rains. The summer has yet to subject us to the truly damaging storms that have been sliding across Southern New England, fulfilling flood and tornado warnings, downing branches and ripping away one notable rooftop. Lightning, that eerie behind-the-clouds specter, has danced around the night skies but the worst seems to slip around us, as though guided by the ocean, not wanting to be bothered with the land.

In mid-August the rangy black-eyed Susans start falling into the walk. I think I transplanted them from the field years ago, when I was moving ferns and mint and — foolishly — self-seeding olive trees. It is the yellow and brown —they are, in truth, brown-eyed Susans — flowers that remain. I think them tough, belonging to real summer, when it is hot and dry and all the easy blossoms of spring have long since withered and fallen.

The other day I overheard someone on the street remarking that they had never seen Block Island looking so, so green. I wanted to call after them “rain, it's just rain.” The rain we're often remarking upon the lack of come mid-August.

This morning I heard it falling straight onto the leaves of the trees outside my open windows, not wind-driven and pounding on the glass. It started slow, a drizzle of a shower, summer music I might not even have heard had the radio been playing.

But still it was morning, and it had begun; I followed the forecast of my choice, the one giving me the most time I had before I had to start my errands, squeezing into a day a week's worth, closer to two weeks’, given that last Tuesday had been drizzly as well, and I convinced myself all could wait.

Perhaps today people weren't watching the forecast, or they were taking the storm threats more seriously than I, or, most likely, I hit some magic window of opportunity and found parking spaces, plural, at both the Post Office and in front of the Island Free Library. The former I attributed to being after breakfast and before the matinee, which is silly given that these are good wander-about-the-shops days that fill town with people. The former baffles me, the library was certainly summer busy, but was not packed to over-flowing, and a few people, like me, were looking for actual books, not just a wifi connection.

The library, in retrospect, was most certainly a fluke, as it involved a hard left across traffic which is often difficult to execute in dead of winter traffic on Dodge Street.

The parking lot behind the bank and paper was where my luck ran out. I know how many times I have driven in to find a space when it did not appear there was one from the street so in I went, after patiently awaiting my turn at Bridge Gate and stalling northbound traffic on Corn Neck until someone southbound took pity on everyone behind me and let me take that left turn.

There were no spaces, there were no bits of empty pavement where I could create a space. While I was deciding what to do, cars kept coming in behind me, more than one slipping into the handicapped slot at the far end, only to back out — making me wonder would they have done so had there not been witnesses or do folks truly honor those signs, which does seem to be the case on the front street. The sign is not visible from a distance, but these cars were passing not only me, but one or two other indecisive drivers. Did those arrivals think we had all somehow missed that possibility?

It was a strange little moment in time, watching this discordant ballet, at one point finding myself actually rooting for someone who works in the building to “get that space!” (She did). Finally, I gave up, telling myself the line would be long in the bank, and started to slowly, ever so carefully, back out toward the street. I was almost there before I realized I had been so focused I had missed someone leaving. Score!!

And there wasn't even much of a line at the bank.

There seemed to be more vehicular traffic, which I would expect on a non-beach day, but there was little frenzy when I was out and about from middle-late morning to mid-afternoon. No one seemed to be in a particular hurry, there was no rush to get to the beach for a better space in the lot and better spot on the sand. There were a few cloudbursts but they were not long-lasting and there was no sense of a long, torturous day leading to a sodden night. It would pass, it would clear, tomorrow should be another washed-clean Block Island summer day.

Tonight, there are no stars visible in the sky but the lights of town are brightening. The song of the crickets is louder than the surf gently rolling up the beach.  Autumn is half-heartedly barking at something that might be out in the field. It is summer, still.