Summer Wanes


Late August. The sun hastens its downward slide, and the shadows grow longer. The flower buds stand crisped on dry stalks. Here and there, children wear backpacks.

School begins next week, and the wild hurly-burly of autumn follows soon after.

Summer plans ebbed and flowed this year. We followed our own rhythms rather than highly structured travel, such as we do on even-numbered years. We watched the sky, bounced in the sea, pounded up and down the secret stairs through the woods, barbecued, made S’mores, visited an aquarium, witnessed the sunrise over the Mojave Desert, crafted, and generally took it easy.

And now, the summer holiday draws to a close. As Ralph McCloskey said in his delightful book “Time of Wonder” we feel:

“A little bit sad about the place you are leaving, a little glad about the place you are going.”

Farewell to the bleached hues, the shimmering horizons, the bulbous tomatoes, the fat corn. Farewell summer!


Golden Hour

The light is changing. Can you tell? The sun's reign in the summer sky slides ever so slowly downward.

It leaves us with deepening hues late in the day.
The light of August, feral yet fey, flickers in the hour before sunset.

The metallic high summer bowl of a sky tips over. The slant of the shadows grows. Even the white oleander captures a tawny hue.
The woods grow darker, their canopy grasping for fading light.

The bougainvillea shimmers.

The late summer luster beckons. We remember that evening walks will soon become morning walks. Not much longer now.

Stroll into the golden hour, where dreams hang within reach.

Full Leisurely We Glide

Sultry afternoons. The air hangs like a heavy syrup, a slow-dripping sap, from which we feel we won't escape. The long days, the heat, the humidity, all these things suspend us in the time-stretched haze we call summer.

Bluebird skies and lemony blooms draw my eyes skyward as I walk. I make my way through the honeyed atmosphere more slowly, out of necessity and also out of respect for this season. I do not adore it as so many do, and yet these moments hold me in their sway.

Arriving at a favorite overlook, I find familiar flora transformed by the heat and the light.

Turning a corner, this sight ensnared me for several minutes. The color and the light and the shade. Only summer holds sway here.

I wend my way along toward home again, and the flowers seem to smile and say, We hold winter's rain and spring's promise in every spectrum, and you are welcome here as well.


In defiance of the heat and humidity, we headed up the coast to Long Beach to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific. As its name suggests, the aquarium contains numerous exhibits primarily dedicated to different regions and ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean. It also features an aviary for the rainbow-hued, nectar-eating parrots known as lorikeets. We did not see them on this trip. But we did enjoy the Amber Forest exhibit, seen above, which shimmers with long, rippling stems of kelp.

There were many species of seahorses on display as well.

Peek-a-boo! Do you see the eel?

I became obsessed with the haunting moon jellies.  

And look at this striking Japanese Sea Nettle, with its long, pale arc of stinging tentacles! 

And here is an extraordinary Pacific Sea Nettle.

Here is a Blacktip Reef Shark, one of the denizens of the Shark Lagoon Exhibit: 

And to change things up a bit, here are some steelhead trout, from the Southern California Steelhead Story exhibit. According to the aquarium brochure, fewer than 500 steelhead remain in the wild. Once, masses of them traveled up the rivers of Southern California to spawn and then head back to the sea. 

Here are more of the jellies of varying ages and sizes, because I could not get enough of them!

And here is one small part of the glorious Tropical Pacific Gallery, which I should have taken more pictures of, but frankly we were so absorbed in the brilliant colors of the fish and coral that we forgot.

This aquarium is located near beautiful parks and shops and even a lighthouse and the Queen Mary. In fact, there was so much to see and do in and near the aquarium, we must return soon.

This was the perfect cure for the summer heat and torpor, a place to escape, to learn, and to float for a little while in bliss.


Summer Daze

Above normal sea temperatures here have meant little cooling at night.  Next month’s utility bill won’t be pretty.  So I’ve sought out anything to cool down.  Above, looking from Shelter Island, you can see the San Diego Bay meet the Pacific Ocean.  The peninsula we call Point Loma rises to the right.  On that morning, I fled over there to feel some cool Pacific fog and just gazed at the sea.

Summer tries my patience.  I want to enjoy it more, but the heat saps me of energy and sometimes makes me sick.  I reschedule walks to try and catch cooler moments.  

When that fails, there are thankfully Popsicles!Good thing, too.  They help ease the summer pain.  

And when veggies are at their summer peak, you can’t go wrong with a good salad.Romaine lettuce, halved grape tomatoes, chopped red bell pepper, basil, and a cut up Babybel cheese really fit the bill on a hot day.

Hope you’re all staying cool!