Last of the Summer Whine 

STAR Tannery, Virginia - In my book, August is almost as dismal and depressing as February. I know summer isn't over until Sept. 21, but my summer is over once I no longer have a vacation to anticipate and after I've had a tomato sandwich for lunch for 30 straight days.

This sounds ungrateful of course. There is all that fresh produce from the garden; all that sunshine and warmth - all that warmth.

Enough with the warmth.

At the beginning of summer, we were a beehive of planned activities. There were picnics and barbeques planned, a vacation in the works, a stack of books for shady afternoons and slow, informal dinners of fresh vegetables to look forward to. My sons were coming and going, swimming or playing tennis, going on camping trips and hikes. We never knew who or how many would show up for dinner.

In August, though, it's an effort just to drag dinner out to the patio, let alone pack a hamper to take somewhere. My vacation tan has pretty much faded and I've resigned myself to the fact that my book stack may have been a little ambitious for the time I had.

Those leisurely dinners have been cancelled due to the overwhelming amount of produce belching from our little garden. After canning 50 jars of tomatoes, a bowl of pasta in a light tomato basil sauce accompanied by a fruity, light zinfandel loses its charm. We go straight for a few belts of wine then fall into bed.

And little by little my sons' pool of friends has begun to whittle down as each one leaves for college. The tearful goodbyes (at least on my part) are now a regular part of our week.

My own son will...No. That has nothing to do with any of this.

The laundry, a never-ending battle around here, hangs limp on the line, soaking up the humidity. I can usually have two or three loads washed, hung out on the line, dried and put away by 3 o'clock. But these days I spend the day checking to see if they're dry until the daily evening thunderstorm comes along and I haul them all in to dry in the damp, humid basement. Still, every morning, hope springs eternal and I trot them out and hang them up. I've been drying the same load of laundry since July 24.

The six dogs, once exuberant to be outside exploring all day, now hesitate by the back door, deciding between relieving themselves in the heat and taking a nap in the air conditioning. They usually choose to hold it until the last possible moment, at which point they run outside to do their business, keeping an eye on the door lest I leave them out there.

If I do, the next time I look out they have formed themselves in front of the door into an anxious arc of slobbering, panting, shedding machines. You would think they'd search out a cool, shady spot. Instead they stare me down to remind me that, "It's nice and shady in the air conditioned living room, Lady."

I'll rally in September. I always do. When the Shenandoah Valley ignites with color and every weekend holds the promise of festivals and antiquing, I will press my personal reset button and make a new plan for myself.

But in August, that seems like a long way off and first I have to get through the weekend my son...No. That has nothing to do with any of this.

I try my old mood lifting standbys, but even they fail to pull me out of the late summer funk. I just want Sinatra to shut up about The Summer Wind and even a day hunkered down in front of Turner Classic Movies for a day of Cary Grant depresses me, only because after watching Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief there is no way to look in a mirror and feel good about yourself.

Even the birds, whose song was so noisy my husband wanted to throw shoes into the trees every morning to shut them up, are now grudgingly silent. The honeymoon that began for them this past spring is over and they have nothing else to say to each other. The kids are all grown, flying and ready to leave the nest.

And so is mine in a week and a half. But, really, that has nothing to do with any of this.

Copyright (c) 2007, SteelWill, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Spot On is a trademark of SteelWill, Inc.

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