I have always loved the buttery happy yellow of goldenrod. I love how it looks next to amethyst ironweed and creamy pink joe-pyeweed. I love how it looks on a crisp blue-sky day; I love how it brightens a rainy afternoon. And yet, it does have a sad side, too. Goldenrod blooms just as the pool closes, summer ends, and school begins. Daffodils' yellow is a pure, strong joy of winter's end - even though I love winter, in its own time. But goldenrod says farewell to a season which always seems a bit too brief and sweet for moving on without a look back.
School started here last week. I taught classes; the girls settled into new classrooms and a wonderful new afterschool program. My book went to press, and it is time for me to begin preparations for talks, conferences, and all the other events which hallmark the academic year. I should have said goodbye to summer last weekend, by all logic.
But the event which gave me greatest pause was not any of these new beginnings, but the end of the pool season. We swatted our way through the poolside Friday night movie. We all four stayed late at the pool on Saturday, Brian and I in the pool even after the girls had shivered their way into their towels. I dropped the girls off with a babysitter for Sunday's pool potluck, while Brian and I attended a lovely outdoor wedding (any wedding where the couple is given kayaks instead of dishes is my kind of wedding), and photographic evidence from my friend Laurette shows that Hazel did not miss me much.
And yesterday, the last day of the season, the girls and I went back for one more evening with at the Community Swim Club, the one place I can count as the safe, happy playground and cafe of our sidewalk-free suburban neighborhood. Last night, at least four friends of mine told me "I saw your girls last night, but I missed seeing you..." Nowhere else in our neighborhood can I so clearly count on this village of friends.
We walked home last night with a flashlight, through our little woodland path, towels brushing against the goldenrod on our way to our beds, and another school year.