Summer slips away

Russell Wangersky
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I’m not ready yet. (And if you don’t live here, you won’t understand — and by here I mean the Avalon, and perhaps the rest of the island.)

There was heavy dew on the car this morning, and driving up over the spine of the peninsula under the Ring Road, there was suddenly the smell of wood smoke.

The ads started in the first week of August, but they were a bad and forgettable dream, until this week, when even the radio shows joined in the talk of back-to-school, and I’m not ready yet.

For some things, maybe I am: for wood in the fireplace and ripe raspberries, the blueberries gone riot and the starting edge of blackberries, but I’m not ready for the fact that the wild roses, the low, roadside simple pink roses, now have an occasional patterning of red leaves and rosehips.

It only seems like a week or so ago when the landscape was a chromic organization of duns and sedges and browns — green grass is far too recent a thing to be heading headlong already towards autumn.

Perhaps it was the hot July followed so quickly by grey and windy August.

I feel shortchanged, ripped off, played again for a fool by this province’s weather.

“You got one hot one, aren’t you satisfied?”

I would rather have had some of July’s hot days scattered through August here and there, with at least the suggestion of something to hope for. Instead, the second post-tropical storm to find its way to us dragged its skirts behind itself and stogged up almost all of August.

Maybe autumn will be long and consistent, soaked occasionally by heavy post-tropical rains strung between long stretches of evenings with pale sunsets angling only towards October to frost.

It will still be the full-on fade: in the morning, the autumn blue jays are already calling raucous around the place like they’ve taken control. The liquid-sounding robins have left the bridge, and their bright-blue replacements are happy to put the place up for a bird-feeder peanut or two.

And I’m suspicious.

I haven’t fully shaken off last winter yet, not even with the even, flat and heavy bake of July.

It sweated, whetted the appetite, that’s all, and I want the slow pace of long days to last.

I don’t want to be on the berry grounds and see the partridgeberries already fully red and shining; don’t want to see the chuckley pears virtually finished and all of the greens of leaves yellowing into their old age, that pre-changing flat

matte green that makes you think everything has gotten tired of summer’s work.

I haven’t swum enough in warm rivers, haven’t had the canoe out to quietly carve lakes, haven’t seen enough mornings where you can sit outside with your coffee and feel the first sun of the morning already warm on your skin.

There aren’t enough summer days here to spend any of them in front of a computer or staring at the gyprock walls; not enough to recharge the batteries; scarcely, I suspect, enough hours of true sunlight to give you the amount of vitamin D you need to get by.

I want to make a complaint. We’ve been sold a bill of goods here, offered a half a summer instead of the deal we paid for, and paid handsomely for, through April and May and even June.

Just wait, it’s going to get better.

How often have I heard that little ditty?

And it’s not.

A couple of short weeks from now, and there’s always the chance you’ll wake up early to a bright white scrim of frost across your windshield, to the sound of dried leaves underfoot, to the bitter realization that winter’s only a slush away — already.

I know it’s only August, but my optimism’s crushed.

But who do you talk to? I’m not ready yet, and I’m going to need a little help with this.

I’m not ready.

Russell Wangersky is The Telegram’s news editor. He can be reached by email at

Geographic location: Ring Road

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Recent comments

  • Nichol
    August 27, 2014 - 09:00

    I commiserate with Mr. Wangersky, although, I was never ready for winter in St. John' could you be? Having lived and worked in that City for about seven years (a while back), my memories ring true to the old adage, 'six months of winter, and six months of bad weather'. It's not really quite that bad, but close. Where else can you have such varied experiences as the proverbial three different weather cycles in one single 24 hour period?......a blizzard, followed by cold rain, then freezing rain on top of it all! What diversity to look forward to each morning....that first look out the window to see if your car was even visible, followed by the long dig- out, all the while listening for any news of road conditions. Then came the wonderful journey of the day, the drive (or attempted drive) to work. If successful, you were faced with a pretty short day, and depending on timing of the next weather cycle, you might get home in time to grab a bite before bedtime. Yes, truly, after the 'races', it was gone....a foregone conclusion. The snow clearing and public transportation were deplorable back then too. Not much has changed, except today there is just a lot more of deplorable to suffer. My hat is off to those hardy souls who now prepare for winter in 'town'. You could never really be ready for all that!

  • James
    August 26, 2014 - 11:05

    embrace every season with equal zest