“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon: to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” Henry James
I came across this quote recently and am ready to change my opinion about Henry James. Not that I don’t already admire him for the characters he created, but I never thought of him as a summer afternoon kind of guy. Fairly or not, I think of him as a character in one of his novels – living a life bound by rules and tradition (though his writing certainly shows that he understood and sympathized with rule-breakers).
Look at him. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to imagine anyone setting out to enjoy a summer afternoon looking like that. Though I guess that’s due mostly due to the changes that have occurred in dress codes since Mr. James’s day. I suppose if he were alive today, he’d don flipflops, shorts and a tee shirt. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Why these thoughts now? It’s Labor Day Weekend, the official end of summer, a summer that seems to have flown by. We’ve had more than our share of perfect days – warm, but not hot; low humidity – the kind of days you wish would last forever. At least that’s the case here in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania. I know many parts of the country have had devastating weather events during the past few months. I hope the end of summer brings an end to the chaos for them – that it gives them perfect conditions to start rebuilding.
I view this weekend with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’m sad to see the season of lazy days end; on the other, I’m excited by the prospect of change that a new season brings. To me, September has always seemed like the beginning of a new year, much more so than January. I think that’s because it marks the beginning of a new school year and, as such, a chance to start anew. Back in my school days, I began each new year with resolutions for a perfect year – perfect attendance, perfect grades, a perfect me. I was eager to see who my teacher would be, to meet any new kids who’d moved to the area since the old school year. That’s changed, of course, but not too much. In September, I resume activities that I’ve taken a hiatus from for the summer, and I look forward to that in much the same way I once looked forward to the new school year. In other words, I’m eager to discover what the new season will bring.
So, to all of the readers of Birth of a Novel, I wish a happy Labor Day Weekend, one filled with … whatever you want it to be. And, once this weekend is over, I wish to you, a new season filled with many discoveries – happy ones, of course.