With July down we are over the hump. Dawn tarries and dusk hastens. Corn has grown tall and sports gleaming rows of tassels. Gardens are putting out tomatoes. After an excess of blessed rain the nights ring with choruses of frog songs from the wilderness of the Rocky Bottom orchard and the plum trees on the diversion ditch bank.
Summer will rule a while longer. August can be hot as the infernal pit. But August summer speaks with the resignation of surrender to an inevitable fate. We hear this in the jar fly’s done and the cricket’s cry. The wind-nodding ironweed garlands summer’s recessional in royal purple.
People from as divergent places as Ohio and Lewis County have already found squirrels cutting on hickory-nuts—a first fruits sampling of a major harvest, a true shadow of autumn.
In the flying of another year we see the flight of our own time. The gift of life imposes on us a duty we cannot shirk: to march in an inexorable parade, pushed along on each doddering step with the press of eons behind us, the backend of eternity chasing us into an unfathomable future like slaves flogged into looming night.
The breadth and depth of time are incomprehensible. We have no reference other than our puny memory or the observation we make of close ones who have lived long by finite standards, a century being nothing in the context of the infinite. Yet we parade in a world of natural marvels, fascinating sights and happenings of which we cannot experience enough to satiate our desire for them. We ride the inescapable flow with a sense of urgency in which seizing days is not enough. It is moments we crave. I overheard a fishing companion speak to someone of the need to “Get out and enjoy this while we can.” Truth from a good and uncomplicated heart. Faith whispers assurances to us that we have forever, but we have so little of that forever to indulge in childish delights.
Every day is an opportunity to make a personal history worth remembering to limitless ages. We are all actors in history even though books and schoolrooms may not have cause to note our acts. We become part of the places—the woods and streams, the meadows and pools—where we pass our days. We may disappear physically but our imprint will always linger on the trails and in the shades that have been our frequent and beloved haunts.
This life in the fields and forests of this visible world—a world that both scientists and divines agree will pass away—is a primer for the perfection that will appear after its passage. It is now that we must bid for a good place in that new Earth and there is no promise of opportunity to plan and make arrangements against a day certain.
The woods and streams are often solitary and reflective climes. The rush of wind and the lull of tree songs speaks of wonders beyond the ken of books and ordinary observance, of hands and a mind too marvelous for contemplation. Wild regions inspire moods both dark and light and we risk the hazards of darkness in order to discover the light. As has been said of the quest for fish and game, we often go to the woods and return with something we did not seek and attain it by circumstances we did not foresee.
It is blasphemy to revel only in the shallow here and now and to trust wholly on our own perception of personal goodness. Only by God’s grace are we worthy of anything better than what we can gain by sweat and toil, by strife and grief—all things we must too soon lose. Time extends its hard hand and shakes a basket before us demanding the coin we owe for what it has given us to love and hold for an ephemeral space, and that coin is grief and loss.
So if the day is good, grab it and make it better. Do not relax your grip until you’ve made the best you can of it. Those good days will come soon when the land throws off its dull green cloak and dons a garment surpassing Joseph’s before undressing to share its radiant visage.
Hasten on summer! Come autumn and what follows. We need the cyclic renewal of life that comes from death and sleep as an earnest of the great resurrection and restitution for which all creation pines!