Wednesday, September 30, 2009

These autumn days

High school band practice
reaches my house from the field
It's football season

- - -

Al fresco dining
no longer an option on
this cold autumn day

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall's first day

First day of autumn
Acorns crushed on the road like
Peanuts on the bar floor

It felt more like summer today than fall -- 80 degrees, bright sun, humid. My arms and face got a little rosy as I ran three miles up on Garret Mountain. Could have more of the same tomorrow, but then it looks like autumn will arrive over the weekend with rain and temperatures in the 60s.

After the weekend, we're into the last stretch of baseball's regular season, which can be a relief (the day-to-day grind at work), a pain (the postseason is four stressful weeks) or heartbreaking (when the Mets still have a chance, only to fall short). With injuries wiping out the Mets' season before the 4th of July, at least there won't be heartbreak. Now I'm just waiting for the end so we don't have to watch the losses mount and can forget about them for a few months, until it's time to get our hopes up again for 2010.

It was a great summer. We had barbecues, late nights on the porch and visits from friends. We played Rock Band with the windows open and breezes coming in and only needed the air conditioning for one brutal week in August. I painted the exterior of the house with help from a family friend and have only a few more details to finish before the job is complete -- details so minor that I haven't rushed and it's been about a month since I picked up a paint brush. I may go out there one of these next two days to take care of a couple of them.

And it was a great summer for traveling. To Boston, the Cape and Maine in May; Cleveland in mid-July; back to Maine for rafting at the end of July; then Boston again for my college roommate's wedding at the end of August (a weekend I really should write about before I forget the details; perhaps I'll tackle that one of these next couple of days).

There are times -- sometimes daily, at the least a couple times a week -- when I'll find myself unhappy that I work nights and weekends and don't have the luxury of regular dinners with my wife or dates with friends. I miss out on a lot of things, have to skip get-togethers and weekends away. But then I feel fortunate to have a job, let alone one that can be fun and pays well enough to let us have this house and take these trips. And I still got to do much of what I wanted this summer, even if I didn't do it as often as I wanted. So maybe I didn't dig a single toe into the sand this year or even slip on a bathing suit one time (despite buying two new ones during our rainy visit to Freeport in May), but I'm not as drawn to the crowded, hot beaches as I used to be. I'm sure I would still enjoy a body surfing session, but Casey's not a beach person and living an hour away makes it more of an excursion than the 15-minute drive from my parents'. An afternoon at my uncle's pool would've been nice, but it just didn't work out this year.

So here's to a dip in the pool in Scottsdale in March and perhaps riding a few waves in Long Branch in August, next year. But first, the fall. A great season, after all.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rainy day remembering

For the first time that I can remember -- and I admit that I don't remember each and every one in the past eight years -- Sept. 11 is cold, gray and rainy. That morning eight years ago, as I've written before, was clear and crisp, a brilliant blue-sky day marking the handoff of summer to fall, the sun still warm enough to be felt on bare arms but the air a touch cooler, so that wearing jeans feels just right. Many of the anniversaries since have amazingly featured the same weather, including the day in 2006 where the sky seemed to be the same deep blue and the air the same degree of Fahrenheit.

Not today, though. In fact, until I came downstairs this morning and logged onto Facebook and saw a few status updates, I'd forgotten what today's date was. Even though I saw the Tribute in Light from Hoboken last night, a long, deep sleep (and some pretty out-there dreams) had temporarily wiped my mind clear of the passage of time. And what a long time eight years is. It's the difference between middle school and senior year of college (or being a high-school freshman and a first-year employee). It's also the time passed from birth to third grade, the age of the students that Amanda, the sister of my friend Nate, is teaching in Hoboken. At dinner last night, before we turned our attention to Titans-Steelers, she was telling us of today's birthday party in the classroom. I asked how old the kids were, and when she said 8, I replied, "So the one with the birthday tomorrow was born on Sept. 11, 2001." She replied, "Yep. They were all born in 2001, so they don't know what it was like back then."

Eight years down the road, and Ground Zero continues to be a construction site like so many others in New York -- an open pit. I haven't been there since last summer, but there's a little bit of progress to be seen, in the form of the first steel beams for the new tower. But as we get further away from that date, the lack of a rebirth and a memorial becomes more noticeable. The Pentagon and Western Pennsylvania have their memorials, and though they were constructed on the lawn of a federal compound and in a rolling field and therefore didn't have the multiple layers of permits, approvals and government oversight to maneuver through, you'd think that by now we'd at least have a target date for the World Trade Center's rebirth.

Someday I hope to look out over Lower Manhattan from the office or the High Line or Hoboken and not have to imagine the magnificent view of the Twin Towers rising above the cluster of buildings at the tip of Manhattan. The Freedom Tower or whatever ends up being there will stand tall, providing a suitable substitute to allow my mind's eye to picture the two square towers standing side-by-side as I remember them.