The Summer That Never Was

Aug 30, 2015 · 118 comments
lshape (vancouver bc)
"I’m not old but I’m not young anymore, either, and if you’re a procrastinator and a ditherer like me you can manage to sustain until well into midlife the delusion that you might yet get around to doing all the things you meant to do"...This is exactly how I feel when I realize that I am never having sex again. And by 'never' I mean what you mean when you write 'I never went to Iceland.'

Thank you for expressing the tension between the search for the eternal and the embrace of the ephemeral.
Rae (New Jersey)
I didn't get to Iceland this summer either but I did make it to the top of a mesa in New Mexico for a few hours of limitless horizon. You are correct in thinking there is something out there for you.

Thank you for offering this to those who might need it. I've always had the end-of-summer feeling but ever since a terrible event occurred in my life on this weekend several years ago I can no longer remember how I felt before.
FG (Bostonia)
This essay reminds me of a discussion I heard about the "meaning" of Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken (which has generated books and scholarly careers). As other commenters suggest, the author, at times seems melodramatic, something Frost never indulged in. In fact, Nietzsche, in his provocative style, is close to the post-modern angst inherent in this piece, beginning with its title: The Summer That Never Was. Really, what does that mean? To inventory one's life experiences in the context of seasons is hubris, regardless of how sophisticated the analysis and language used to sum up the balance sheet. Nietzsche, despite his provocative and acerbic style, illuminates. We are the archetypal evaluators in nature. We cannot exist without comparing, differentiating, thus valuing. We create all values, indeed all morality. And because we know it to be true, we become alienated from nature, from each other, and from ourselves. If lucky, sometimes we realize that, in part due to our affluence, we have lived part of our lives vicariously or as if "measured out ...with coffee spoons."
The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

Carpe diem!
FRB (King George, VA)
I went to Ireland last April. Had a great time.
Stuart (<br/>)
I know someone who went to Iceland this summer. Why is everyone going to Iceland?

Very lovely summer lamentation. Thanks for writing this. Thanks for publishing it.
magala46 (yonkers, ny)
Thanks, Tim. Loved it.
Judith L Green (Ann Arbor, MI)
Find a way to change your view of winter in NY as "hateful" (with all the cultural riches around you? such as the dioramas--and more!--at the museum....and theater...and music...and New York's wonderful, wonderful diversity of people!) and you won't have to live for summers.
NigelLives (NYC)
You have a cabin?

Then no whining.
Deborah (Ann Arbor,MI)
This essay, coupled with news of Oliver Sacks' passing, makes me a little more blue than normal on summer's last week. That said, I think I should head to the pool. And really get back into my work tomorrow. Thank you Tim Kreider!
Christoph Weise (Umea, Sweden)
Forget summer, make plans to escape in the winter to a tropical location. Nothing beats the intense fragrances and vibrant colors in the tropics.
Anonymous Woman (NYC)
And you wrote this. I want to go to Iceland with you. If we don't get there thats ok too.
mj (michigan)
If it makes you feel better I didn't go to Iceland this summer either.
downbylaw (seattle)
Lovely essay. I think it was Diane Arbus who said that if you want to be more general, be more specific. By focusing on the end of summer you've done a wonderful job of that.
GWE (No)
I have a cure for all that ails you. Move to Florida
Robert Glassman (Ann Arbor, MI)
Naw. Move out west. New Mexico. The colors will make you live and die happy at an old age.
Deirdre (New York, NY)
Just wonderful!
George (Miami)
That was your summer, it was good.
Don't mistake melancholy for trepidation.
Pete (CA)
Tim, I think tipping the scale toward gratitude and acceptance might begin with the realization that merely having whole summers off is an exceedingly rare and precious privilege. Trips to Iceland are just icing on that cake.
Vinaigrette (Northern NJ)
What a perfectly gorgeous essay. It made me laugh, and cry.

Thank you.
drichardson (<br/>)
Emily Dickinson said it best:

AS imperceptibly as grief
The summer lapsed away,—
Too imperceptible, at last,
To seem like perfidy.

A quietness distilled,
As twilight long begun,
Or Nature, spending with herself
Sequestered afternoon.

The dusk drew earlier in,
The morning foreign shone,—
A courteous, yet harrowing grace,
As guest who would be gone.

And thus, without a wing,
Or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape
Into the beautiful.
John (London, UK)
I read the whole thing and thought: Who cares?
Hunter (Point Reyes Station CA)

Gosh, Tim, did you write this melancholy memory to a summer lost before or after reading Oliver Sacks' obit?

Can we expect a seasonal update after you resume teaching in the Fall, and start boarding up your psyche for another hateful winter in New York?

Have you considered indoor plants?
Blake (Carrollton, Georgia)
Tim, thank you for that beautiful essay
esthermiriam (DC)
I can respect those who feel, shall we say, annoyed by this piece while feeling it spoke deeply for me.

This year, for whatever reason, I was more irked by all those (who, having gone off to their Iceland or Martha's Vineyard or wherever) consider it important to ask about *my* summer.
Not a good way to be -- I know!
dittoheadadt (San Juan, PR)
Can Seasonal Affective Disorder commence in August?? In a place where we get sunshine and warmth 380 days of the year??
Chris Kox (San Francisco)
Bill Withers: "On the road to wonderful you've got to pass through OK. When you get there take a good look around because that might just be where the road stops." Or, some such.
bill m (washington)
Brilliant and well said. This piece touches upon something that resonates in many of us, and Kreider is a remarkable spokesman for our silent group.
Aaron Walton (Geelong, Australia)
Skimming through the comments, I get the impression that I'm the only reader who didn't respond to this essay. What's here other than a catalogue of the author's fairly banal shifts in mood and run-o-the-mill regrets? I can see this as a letter to a friend or lover, someone who knows Mr. Kreider well enough to get a kick out of his wanly self-deprecating humor, but as an essay in the Times? Nah.

And by the way, if it's your aim to see the aurora borealis, summer isn't the time to visit Iceland anyway. I mean, you might get lucky--if the solar wind is blowing strong enough, they can appear at any time of year--but the Northern (and Southern) Lights are a lot more reliable in winter. Why not book a flight for January, when all your students are home for the holidays? I bet the fares are lower then anyway.
sh (New England)
Oh dear, you are sorely mistaken. Flights around that time of year are expensive! As a grad student in upstat NY I was never able to fly home to Skandinavia for chtistmas, it was too expensive.
mcomfort (Mpls)
One question nags at me - why did your friend need two weeks to recover from a nearly-severed toe - and at *your* cabin, in near-invalid-state no less? It doesn't sound like a scheduled two-week visit, you write "She'd recovered enough to go home by the end of July..."

Couldn't she drive? How does a toe, missing or not, keep someone from driving? Did she have to hike out?
Jeffrey Hedenquist (Ottawa)
Yes, as others have noted, just do it, if I may be so bold. Now that you have your check, invest in yourself and your future; buy a ticket NOW for next July to Reykjavik, about $720. I suggest that you travel around the country at least for a week as well as staying in your friend's apartment. You will find the vistas surreal, no comparison with the dioramas at the AMNH, as good as they are. While you are at in Iceland, hop down to Munich on Icelandair for a long weekend, the ancestral home of the Kreider name. Have fun and no regrets (and please write a few vignettes for us to enjoy vicariously).
Patty (Midwest)
I had to cancel my yearly trip to NYC this week because I chose to do the things around the house I never get I painted my bedroom and threw a pity party for myself titled "what I could be doing in NY right now".....I failed to see that what I have been blessed with in life be it health, home, or a job I can take vacation from is what somebody else is wishing for.
chrismosca (Atlanta, GA)
Thank you for sharing. You are a gifted writer; and your words "made" my Sunday afternoon.
Henry Stites (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Just do it! Get in your car and go. Before you know it, you won't be able to go; because, you will be too old and whatever money you have saved will never make you young again.
AKS (Macon, GA)
This is an absolutely gorgeous piece of writing. Thank you. I think it esp. speaks to those of us living with diseases who know that our time on earth is limited. I regret tremendously not spending the money and going to Europe this summer. Lesson learned: Carpe Diem!
SJ (London)
If you're well enough come to Europe this autumn! Less tourists, cheaper airfare. Or even this winter. You can. Do it now if you feel up to it!
Liz Givens (Culver City)
beautifully expressed, i felt it all as i was reading it.... thank you
Janet (NC)
You still have time to go to the US Open. If I lived up there, I would!
Michael K (Tucson)
Thanks for the remarkable essay. I've saved it -- as I saved "Feast of Pain" from April 26 of last year, which I actually framed. Kreider is a brilliant essayist, capturing complexities and nuances with humor, while at the same time striking at the heart of the matter. Iceland? Maybe. Maybe not. Does it matter? But his houseguests are certainly interesting.
Paul (Phoenix, AZ)
You poor, poor sheltered thing. You are talented enough to write a column for the nation's newspaper of record but can't afford air fare to Iceland?

There are some of us, far less provincial, who can't WAIT for summer to end. Yesterday in was 111 degrees; last week 117.

I see pictures of kids in cardigans returning to school, leaves starting to change on trees and in some places even early snow fall.

But for some of us summer does not end until Halloween, or, worse, two weeks before Thanksgiving, when we can be assured the temperature will no longer rise above 90 degrees.

Why put up with it? Because we do not have to go to a museum to see dioramas of what is; it is usually a stone's throw.

And you do not have to go to Utah or Nevada and stand there, alone, and see and smell and enjoy the silence. In north central Phoenix we have an 11,000 acre preserve forever closed to development and traffic, and as rugged and solitudinous as the remote wherever, but right in the heart of America's fifth largest city.

Y'all just have to stop thinking civilization stops at the Hudson River. Or life, for that matter.
Terry (America)
Most people in Iceland want to go to New York.
Andrew B Hurvitz (Van Nuys, CA)
This is a beautiful, poetic, sad rumination on something I've felt for many years as well, that August, in its promise of fun, travel, relaxation, also carries in it a foreboding return to school, work, darkness, winter and even death.

But more than summer's end, the instigator for these feelings is not the month or the calendar, but your internal empathy with life and emotion, so finely attuned and articulated in this essay.
risrael1a (Boston,Mass.)
After recovering from a bicycle accident some years ago -- I got hit by a car and literally was scraped off the street and rescued -- I have come to savor each day of each season. Lamenting the loss of a summer is the stuff of a melodrama on stage, not a piece for the opinion pages. I found this piece badly written, but, more importantly, missing out on those moments when one can move beyond circumstances to live a more fulfilling life. It's worse than whining, a word someone penned here other than me. It's pathos at its worst.
paul larosa (new york)
I couldn't imagine a more well written essay and the irony is that I dislike summer and can't wait for Fall. Still, so beautifully written....I too will look up your book. How is it that someone who can write so well is not well-known??
Christine McMorrow (Waltham, MA)
Tim, you know, life is what happens when you're making other plans. But as a writer, you know that.

I like the fact that you could finally see the good in your lost summer. And accept the fact that maybe Iceland wasn't in the cards this year, but you're hardly decrepit.

So let me tell you what part of your essay I enjoyed the most, these lines:

"And I’ll probably still be evading the same truth I’m evading now: that the life I ended up with, much as I complain about it, was pretty much the one I chose. And my dissatisfactions with it are really with my own character, with my hesitation and timidity."

That my friend, is wisdom. It can't be bought or acquired, and it is indeed the key to acceptance, as corny as that sounds. One of my dearest friends--my soulmate actually--used to say even in the days leading up to his passing, that "We always do what we want to do."

I think about that often, whenever I find myself beating myself up for frittering away the day, missing that TV series, not organizing the piles of papers that have been sitting here for weeks but that I expect to dispatch in days.

"We always do what we want to do" (unless there's an emergency like with your editor friend). And that pretty much sums up how lives get lived, with or without regret.
Mark Phelan (Chappaqua)
Gosh! If this opinion piece is any indication that book you just finished might drive me out on the ledge!

Look at life the way you will! Haven't you learned this after all these summers/
J.B. Schow (SLC, Utah)
Native utahn here who went East (NJ, DC) then boomeranged back -- and I haven't looked back. The West is hard to beat. Gotta think your last two paras have more than a few city slickers on the right coast now turning their gaze leftward. Nature does the mind-body-spirit (soul) good.
Marc (NYC)
Summer silly season fare...
Ruben Kincaid (Brooklyn)
Swimming naked in the Chesapeake and making martinis every day sounds like a perfect summer.
PS (Vancouver, Canada)
My nephew, 13 at that time and autistic, asked me one day, "why can't summers last forever?" I had no answer for him. I often, frequently, ask myself the same question. And I still don't have the answer.
kms (central california)
Try "the rotation of the earth on its tilted axis." Works for me and for, I dare say, many others.
Flagburner (Larkspur CA)
I can only hear the soggy misgivings of a man without even enough spine to say-" i didnt make it to iceland because i clearly did not want to go"- the things that stopped you were all very foolish and easily navigated around- if u want to be a great writer- the first law is
" tell yourself the truth " ...
Amy Bonanno (New York, NY)
this is why we always travel in early September - a kind of "summer extender".
Claire (Lyon, France)
Such a beautiful essay. Thank you. Your friend's picture of the northern lights broke your heart, and your essay made me cry. Perhaps it's just a case of grass being greener, I don't know. I do know this: please keep writing.
Anne (NH)
Beautifully written. Made me cry.
anylaurie16 (Burbank, Ca)
Great essay. I just bought your book on Amazon, and I paid full
price instead of getting it used. Please go to Iceland next year.
Sophia (chicago)
Wonderful piece! and it echoes what many of us are feeling here. Fall has come much too soon.

It's been a terrible summer - cold, rainy - featuring many disasters. The weather and the dearth of honeybees ruined the gardens. Some tomatoes did emerge, but the squirrels ran off with many and the voles ate the beets underground.

My friend's beloved pug died, my neighbor's cat died, my dear, beautiful cat died. We had terrible storms that savaged the trees. Our block was hit and hit again. 100 year old trees were shattered, several cut down. After the last storm the male cardinal flew frantically in the canopy, whistling softly.

A few summers I visited my dad in Colorado. Fires in California shrouded our moon - it was a strange, dark orange. This summer they rage on and on.

I keep waiting for people to wake up from their dreams.
Tom Perryman (Greenville, IN)
This person is so out of touch with most Americans. Gee, didn't get to go to Iceland, how can she stand it? Had to worry over her book, wow, what a challenge. Come visit my county and I will show you some people who don't have the education or the money for this self-centered wool gathering. They live in some broken down trailer with no job or skills. They are not dreaming of Iceland or even know where it is. They are hoping for something more than a job at the Dollar Store and enough money to turn the electric back on. Write about that.
CL (Boulder, CO)
Why does Tom think Tim is a woman?
AKS (Macon, GA)
I don't think that hostility is necessary. We all have unrealized dreams. I can't afford Iceland either, but I live with a terminal disease, so my goals are different. But I relate to the sadness and poignancy of this piece because of my own foreshortened life.
chyllynn (Alberta)
I did as I read it, and was surprised at the end when I read his name. maybe it is because women often forgo their dreams and do the care taking of others.
Michelle RN (Bloomfield MI)
Stick with that Hypnotherapist - you WILL find your Theta waves and get to your joy!
patrick (florida)
Wow... Thank you for reminding me that my lifelong quest for adventure, always choosing to go now instead of later, has been the right choice... at age 65 I often wonder if I should have kept the first house, job, and wife.... now I know I did good.... My advice to you? Just do it!
giulia873 (NY)
I see in this beautiful piece everything the previous commenters have seen, and something more mundane besides: the reality of the teaching life, where rest, relaxation, contemplation, and most pleasures are closed to you for 9-10 months without pause, because the work, even when it is rewarding, is all-consuming.
India (<br/>)
My late husband was a teacher, some years teaching during the day, 4 evenings a week, and on Sat as well - living on a teacher's salary is difficult. But there were the various vacations throughout the year, where he could rest and relax and enjoy our family and he did so. I wish my son had a teacher's life where there is a 2-3 month opportunity to rest and relax and just enjoy life and his children. Instead, even though he gets 4 weeks of vacation, he is only allowed to take one week at a time and it takes several days to just decompress. A teacher's life would look VERY good to him if it weren't for the low salary. Everything has its price.
Pete (CA)
You must be joking.

For the vast majority of us, "relaxation, contemplation, and most pleasures are closed" for THE ENTIRE YEAR "without pause, because the work, even when it is rewarding, is all-consuming."

Why can't those in teaching ever acknowledge that they are immensely privileged in having 3 months off every year?

Just enjoy it. I don't begrudge you for it--unless you try to convince yourself that you somehow earn it by working harder than me. That's ridiculous.
Zinaeda (Tucson, AZ)
Ok, the summer is over, but this should be the fall that you go to Iceland - just GO ALREADY!! And quit your whining! You still have a couple a weeks before you resume teaching, and you have the money now. Hey, one or two weeks in Iceland is better than none at all. I also have wanted to visit Iceland for many years, and I decided that this was the year. I could only afford eight days - but hey, I went. Quit your useless whining and just go!
Socrates (Verona, N.J.)
Tim...I am a procrastinator also, but enough is enough.

You need to stop accepting apparent excuses for not going to Iceland.

Iceland is really just right down the block in air travel terms.

I'm sure a small group of NYT commenters and others would be happy to pay your airfare via in exchange for your prose predicated on a 2016 summer in Iceland.

Life is short, almost as short as summer.

Have a good summer in Iceland next year and write to us.
shoofoolatte (Palm Beach Gardens FL)
I was annoyed with this article. Skimming through it, because Tim was just dragging and dragging, I wanted to tell him: For God's sake, Tim, please just do it! Go to Iceland, drive out West. Forget all that other little stuff and your justifications for not doing it, and do it!
Nan Socolow (West Palm Beach, FL)
Fine piece, Tim Kreider, "The Summer That Never Was"! Yes, indeed "events conspire against us" and "summer's lease hath all too short a date". End of summer melancholy - start of the Jewish New Year - celebration and atonement in September, for thousands of years. We are all so melancholy - half-melon, half- collie. Forget reminders of foregone pleasures and carpe diem, laugh and enjoy this very moment.
Counter Measures (Old Borough Park, NY)
Ironic! I'm middle age, and as much as I like summer and August, which is also my birthright, I love the hope and promise and atmosphere of the coming fall! No Florida for me! I would think it's the way one looks at it!!!
Lydia (San Diego)
Why can't writers start inserting late penalties into their contracts?
Marie (Lunenburg,Nova Scotia)
My subscription to the NYT is soon to expire and sadly I cannot afford to renew. I am delighted that this wonderful essay was one of the last things I will read here.
I am an NYT subscriber. If you are willing to contact the NYT and manage to persuade them to pass a contact email address for you to me, I would like to give you the gift of an NYT subscription for the next year.
KP (Nashville)
#[email protected], NS: No, no, don't let it go. Hook up with some one and let them share their NYT subscription with you!

Two years ago my wife and I were in your remarkable town. We'll always cherish the warmth and delight of the place. On, and did I mention the seascapes and tall ships? Thank you.

Steve (New York)
One feels like pulling out the tiny violins. This is someone whose occupation allows him the summer off, is paid well enough to have a cabin (I assume in addition to his regular home).
Perhaps instead of feeling sorry for himself he should think of those people would just like a descent paying job even if it doesn't given them a single day off during the summer or those who don't even have one dwelling, much less two.
And remember that as an adult that return to school end of summer feeling should be gone. Celebrate that you can do the same things in September and October as you wanted to do in August (even go to Iceland).
Bruce (Spokane Washington)
Yes! Shame on him for indulging himself in these feelings while there is inequality in the world.

Also, I would like to apologize to you (and God and everybody) for celebrating my 51st birthday this summer by going out with my husband to a moderately-priced Mexican restaurant for dinner: so many people don't have husbands, or don't live to be 51, or can't afford to waste $35 on a single meal. I feel terrible now (mostly for not feeling terrible before). Thank you for opening my eyes to the cruelty --- well, callous indifference, anyway --- of my own heart.

maryann (detroit)
Thanks, I needed this. I have lived among Academics for many years and each May 1st my resentment was palpable. That and a long winter break. This is just that kind of precious piece that sends me running to Mother Jones. As for brutal NYC winters, ha! He should try the midwest.
joan (middletown,ct)
I am about to turn 80. The story of your summer sounds like the story of my life. Your piece is beautifully written, and expresses your feelings in such a real manner. Thank you for that. I hope to read more of your work soon.
Russ Carmel (Manhattan)
If you haven't explored the links in the Oliver Sacks obitiuary, you'll see this essay connect to Sacks writing and gain insight into life. Precious.
0914 (Central Asia)
It can be lovely, horrible, pleasant, happy, sad, disappointed, indifferent, sorrowful, lonely, or whatever. You feel all the different emotions in numerous events that you have chosen to be. I sometimes wonder if I can dive into my head to reshape my memories, brainwashing myself so that only the nice feelings and memories float in me.
But I wouldn't do it. However sorrowful or bad the memories could be, they are part of my life, coming from things and ones that I hold dearly.
My summers were meaningful in their own ways. I might be, and am actually sad over some things, but never want to erase them.
Pal Joey (TAMPA, FL)

I grew up in L.A. where the summer sun was relentless and the summer smog was the color of pus from a weeping sore. Far from bringing on meloncholy or sadness, Autumn brought relief: less sun, fewer “smog alerts” and a palpable excitement that the holidays were upon us. Merry Christmas!
Trudy (Pasadena, CA)
I am in L.A., and I am thrilled that summer is almost over. I hope we get a real autumn and winter this time. We don't have that smog anymore, but the sun and heat is still relentless.
Charles (New York, NY)
Beautifully said. True.
Paula C. (Montana)
Lovely piece, love your writing. More NYT, more!
John D. (Out West)
Look on the bright side. Summers start earlier & last longer these days, and (for example) the traditionally wintry Interior West had its winter reduced to about six weeks in 2014-15, so you have many more opportunities to travel in less limiting weather than ever before. (Just don't come out this way in July and August if you don't like heat-stroke temps and thick smoke in the air you breathe.)
fromjersey (new jersey)
Wonderful piece. Your wistfulness resonates deeply. You had a good summer and clearly you are a dear friend. Next summer I hope you travel. Maybe winter in NY won't be as bad as you anticipate, or will perhaps drive you to actually book a flight and plan a trip. (and I think thats a message to myself!)
Mary Lynch (Tennessee)
What an evocative, beautifully descriptive essay. Mr. Kreider has captured perfectly for me what late summer feels like. I'm so glad to know someone feel this way, too. I've always been ashamed to admit my resistance to productivity, the desire to while away hours doing something, anything else other than what 'should' be done. Summer is the perfect metaphor. Thank you for putting this into such beautiful words!
Lorraine M (Buffalo, NY)
This is the human condition, especially as we approach the autumn of our lives. You write about it beautifully, Mr. Kreider.
View from the hill (Vermont)
On the macro scale, try the end of summer when you're in your 70s. On the micro scale, try the end of summer here in the soon-to-be Frozen North -- autumn leaves are pretty but bring on dread.
Boont (Boonville, CA)
Consider California. Maybe about 50 miles north of San Francisco. Teachers are in need again. Some place like Santa Rosa would be nice. Tahoe, San Francisco, wine country, ocean, all within easy reach. Who needs Iceland with all that? I'm on a ranch in Northern California listening to crickets, what are you doing?
Melissa Friedman (Texas)
Seems like you enjoyed a mighty fine summer, if you ask me!
Sheri (New Mexico)
Tim - if I may address you by your first name...go west...go west ... go west...or go to the seashore or spend some time in meditation. They're all potentially the same. You are longing for the right thing but you hesitate. It's not that scary. Get on a plane, get to Albuquerque, for instance, at night, wake up the next morning and look out onto the open space from your hotel room and be enchanted. Get into your rental car and drive west toward Gallup or north toward Santa Fe and then on to Taos and will see that time can stand still and so can you. Go to the vortices in Arizona and stand, arms outstretched to the horizons. Time will stop and so will you. It's not that hard and once you've felt it, it will become part of you. It doesn't matter if you get to Iceland or not but it does matter whether you get to that place INSIDE where you really reside. I know....I'm older than you and went through the same feelings years ago. I went to New Mexico. I'm still here. I don't miss New York! But I believed I had to wait to retire to do it. I probably could have done it sooner. I think waiting is not that prudent. Do what your heart longs for while you are here in this world and in this person. It's much simpler than you may think.
Debra (Formerly From Nyc)
Santa Fe is heavenly....I've visited there twice.
upstater (NY)
@Sheri: Just got back from New Mexico....Santa Fe, actually. Many of my expat New York friends are living life just fine in Fanta Se, as they call it. I love visiting there, the light, the food, the many Hispanic and Indian friends who extend the hospitality of their country to us....and it is THEIR country. It is a truly unique state, and state of mind. But then I return to the beautiful Hudson Valley where just about every evening I see magnificent sunsets, over the Catskills, the equal to those I see over the Sangre de Cristo mountains. I mean REALLY! The Hudson River school of Painters knew where to paint. Both places are soul satisfying, but I miss each of them when I'm at the other........
miriam (Astoria, Queens)
I am retired and enrolled in Medicare, and yesterday afternoon I remembered Robert Frost's poem "The Oven Bird." For the first time in my life, the two diminished things in the poem hit me with equal force.

This summer I missed the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Concert in Sunnyside. There's always next year - or is there? (The musician honored in the event didn't have much time either.)
ddg425 (New Mexico)
"...this also allows you to consider your actual life, instead of comparing it to the imaginary one you plotted out at age 12, or back in May."

Edwin (Oakland Gardens, NY)
“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” – Yoko Ono
Mom (Colorado)
This lovely piece helped me understand my own melancholy this summer. With children now on their own at college, I'm floored that my purpose of raising them is just about complete. The many opportunities to be a better parent as they grew from infants to adults are gone. Now it's just me, left to make meaning out of this next phase of life. Thank you, Mr. Kreider, for your reminder to take nothing in this life for granted, and to pay attention, always.
Heather Quinn (NYC)
Sounds about right to me. Being older than you, let me share two things: first, part of this is a very deep, almost-hidden, response to waning days and winter's coming darkness; second, try to do things anyway, even if the timing and other things are wrong.

About the tilting planet, shadows, shorter days, and winter's darkness: humans evolved near the equator, and only encountered big swings in seasonal light as they migrated. And people don't migrate when they're happy at home. Shadows and darkness are signals of still-reverberating ancient traumas. This. This. This... is why humans have winter celebrations of light and new birth and feasting and joy. Fire in hearth. TV. Dinners. Running and cycling. Museum shows. Movies and plays and dance, at theaters, with friends. Antidotes.

Next year, Iceland, no matter what. There on the edge of the ancient known world, where it's dark and cold much of the year, lit with auroras, glowing lava, moon and start, heated by molten rock, and buoyed by cooperation, fairness, civilization, laws, music and storytelling, is a challenge to all the ancient trauma humanity has known, and a way to move past it, by celebrating joy in the face of serious everyday difficulties.
Mary Lynch (Tennessee)
I love your last paragraph especially - what a great compliment to this essay!
Edmund (New York, NY)
Wow. Beautiful writing. And it captures that end of summer feeling just perfectly. Kudos!
Nancy G. (Massachusetts)
From another teacher getting ready to return to work, I really enjoyed this terrific piece of writing. It absolutely captures so many complicated things at the same time. Thank you for saying what I feel in a way I never could.
Beth (Los Angeles)
What a beautifully written piece. This especially struck me: "...boarding up my psyche for another hateful winter in New York." I feel your pain, as I used to do exactly that when I lived in the Northeast.
Here's a thought: Go West, not-young-not-old man! I did, in middle age, and although my life is passing by much more quickly now that the winter months don't last seemingly forever, the trade-off is well worth it!
Keep up the wonderful work, regardless.
DrewKnight (Waterville Valley, NH)
Thank you for perfectly capturing everything I've been feeling for the last week or two of the summer that work wouldn't let up. I had no time for a vacation, and lately I've been watching my teens watch the last grains drop through the narrowing in the hourglass of their summers, too. I think what makes me saddest is that we spent too little time together. I feel like I have the life I have chosen, and wonder if I chose poorly.
P Desenex (Tokyo)
Good on you for seeing the Perseids. That should have been at least as effective as stopping your car in the middle of Nevada and looking off to the horizon in every direction.
Cher Lewis (Pietrasanta, italy)
Beautiful. Insightful.
Bob (Boston)
we can never fulfill the dreams and the world that we are supposed to experience in summer, and yet, year after year, there is the longing to do just that.

I suggest that you listen to Jonathan Richman's song, That Summer Feeling, it so perfectly encapsulates that longing we all have for summer and what we have lost, even if we don't quite understand it.
David Landers (Vancouver, BC)
Wow...perfect summary of what I too felt this summer. An ailing elderly dog in Vancouver changed all of my plans for summer travel, including finally being with my new husband in Toronto. At first, there was resentment mixed with real fear about losing the dog. Those were replaced with acceptance of and appreciation for bringing the dog back to health in my solo summer. Thanks for the good piece!
David Gregory (Deep Red South)
Life gets so complicated that time just seems to get away and we feel it more intensely as we approach middle age, realizing the window for doing certain things is limited and approaching an end.

I look at what I would like to do and stack that against obligations, resources, potential plot complications and the inevitable march of time. In middle age, one can see the end of chances to do things we once took for granted in our 20's & 30's.

Somewhere we cross a line where time is no longer unlimited and feel it's pressure. It was always there and we never know exactly where it is, but you are aware once it happens.
Marion (Munich)
I love this! My Feelings expressed in words!
Ana Jara de Carvalho (Brussels)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. This was exactly what I was needed: knowing that I am not the only one feeling this way at the end of the (my) Summer.
LovesDogs (Freehold, NJ)
Thanks for that. Beautifully written.
Luluinthesky (Cranford, NJ)
Yup. Tim Kreider is a writer's writer. Beautiful thoughts, beautifully expressed.
Dave Scott (Ohio)
Few associations come more naturally, if sadly, than the link between the end of summer and mortality. That link becomes far more palpable at the point when a man can count the number of remaining summers he's likely to see on his fingers and toes (and maybe a dog's nose or two).
concerned (nj)
I will take the meetaphor even further... I mourn the passing of each flower... the dogwood, the forsythia, the peony, the lily... i wait alll year to see those beautiful flowers but they last only a short time only to wait once more. but unlike our lives, they raise their beautiful buds every summer like clock work.
Victoria Brush (Brooklyn)
I love this essay - so beautifully written. I also get melancholy at the end of summer. I've worked most of this summer, but the sense that "playing hooky" is acceptable is always a comfort. Once Labor Day comes and goes, those impulsive days off are not as easy. I was born in September, so September has always felt like my New Year in many different ways, and I do love autumn, but I completely relate to the sense that it's summer when magic happens and if there's something I didn't get to this summer, then I have to wait until next summer.
Anne-Marie Hislop (Chicago)
Interesting how the old start-of-school feelings hang on. I loved going back to school in the fall; loved new notebooks, pencils, and shoes. Fall is my favorite time of year. While I am seeing the outdoor pool days dwindle towards 'closed,' and that feels like a coming loss I cannot stop (really it a loss I cannot stop), I know I will enjoy the very clear, colorful, crisp days of October. I look forward to the increasing pace of life as we march towards "the holidays" at the end of the year. There's no hope for January in Chicago, but I'll deal with that when we get there.

I know what you mean about the 'never will be.' Having recently retired, my fantasies about some great job or some wonderful new career (I've had about 3) are now short-circuited by the realization that 'THAT's not going to happen.' Still, surprisingly to me, I find myself aware of being grateful for the life I have had and for the opportunities ahead (even if some of them never actually happen).
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