As much as I enjoy the crisp feel of the autumn air, the beauty in the changing colors of the leaves and the sound of Kenny Chesney singing “The Boys of Fall” on my MP3 player, I’m feeling a bit melancholy about our fleeting days of summer.
From beginning to end — a mere 13 weeks — the summer season seems hardly long enough to pack everything in.
That first weekend of summer began with a Daily Globe picnic at Chautauqua Park and a first birthday party for my beautiful one-year-old great-niece Elsie, and it seems every weekend since has been filled with one activity or another.
It must be a built-in trait of Minnesotans to cram as many outdoor activities as possible into a span of just a few months because, as we all know, the snow is going to start flying soon enough.
So, from birthday parties and trips to the lake to weekends at the office and lazy days with my nose in a good book, I whittled away yet another summer. I didn’t watch a single Twins game – and I didn’t get to Fairmont to watch my nephews play in Little League. It seems my summer was spent “preparing for Germany”, “being in Germany”, dealing with a quick recovery from Germany before “fair week”, followed by “post-fair week” and State Fair week. Boom. Just like that and it was over.
But, there are the memories … my first limit of northern pike; putting leeches on hooks for nephews too scared to do it themselves; bonfires; watching wild turkeys grow up on the farm; listening to pheasants cackle; four-wheeler rides; conversations with neighbor kids in my backyard; princess and dinosaur birthday parties; croquet.
I find the greatest memories come from the kids.
A couple of weeks ago, my great-nephew and I hopped on the four-wheeler and took off for the back pasture just as the sun had begun its descent and a light fog was settling over the Ocheyedan River.
I had just turned down the lane when the pungent odor of skunk hit us in the face. I sped up. Brody was chattering about the stink and then told me to slow down because he was cold. Yes, fall is in the air.
We drove a little farther.
Brody started chattering again. Apparently he just saw a kangaroo hopping through the soybean field.
“Are you sure it was a kangaroo?” I asked.
“Yes, it was a kangaroo!” he exclaimed in his confident, almost-4-year-old voice. “I saw it!”
“What did it look like?”
“Like a kangaroo! It was jumping!”
“Could it have been a deer?”
“No Julie … it was a kangaroo!”
It wouldn’t be the first kangaroo sighting in Back 40. Not too many years ago, probably about this same time of year, I tried to convince one of my nephews that the creature we were admiring — again in a soybean field — was a kangaroo. All we could see was the head and neck.
I almost had the boy convinced, too, if the deer hadn’t been spooked and started leaping over the bean rows.
I’m pretty sure I took a sock to the arm for stretching such a tale. This time around, with the next generation of the Buntjer family along for the ride, it wasn’t the boy that needed convincing, but his aunt. This time around, I didn’t get a sock to the arm. Instead, I got “the look.”
You just don’t argue with an almost-four-year-old.