Weekend essay: Seasons change …

Weekend essay: Seasons change …

The sun sets ever earlier these days; at this point in August, it’s about 8:24 p.m. The day that once lingered well past 9 p.m. cannot stay out to play as long as it did a mere month ago.

That sunrise whose first hints not long ago cued the chorus of songbirds shortly after 5 a.m.? It has taken to sleeping in as the summer closes in on being two-thirds spent.

Mr. Sun has become Mr. Weary. Ah, seasons change. But those aren’t the only changes in the air.

“Car!” I heard the rear “spotter” of a high school cross-country team recently as the harriers were getting in some post-dinner road work. “Hill miles” logged now will pay wonderful dividends come fall.

Then, from two different directions, the drum cadences of a pair of high school marching bands settling into camp echoed off the hills and through the dales. They might sound discordant now but they will be driving those marchers’ precision in short order.

On the air – as in on the radio and television – the coming Christmas, still more than four months off, has been previewed far too early for most.

The Hallmark Channel concluded a run of holiday flicks at the end of July. It was a promotion to remind viewers that, this year, it will begin its real Christmas programming a few days before Halloween.

And on the radio, one oldies station took to playing a few Christmas tunes each hour recently. It appeared to coincide with its parent corporation’s announcement of its coming all-things-holidays cell phone app.

(Yeah, I gave it a spin for the snirts-and-giggles quotient, pretending I was a kid again with a transistor radio to my ear.)

While the “ding-dong-dings” of the chorus in Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas” indeed are catchy and Christmastide truly can be, as Andy Williams professes, “the most wonderful time of the year,” even this lover of all things Yule-ish was struck by the seasonal incongruity.

The holidays will come soon enough. And there’s more than enough to do in the meantime.

Inside, there’s one fireplace to build and there’s another to have its chimney swept.

Outside, there are plenty of driveway cracks to seal, a few deck floorboards to replace and a tractor-mounted snowplow to design and build.

In the gardens, there are cold frames to site and insulate and there are hoop houses to ready knowing it’s always easier to cheat the first frost of the fall with preparation.

But no matter the chores, rest assured plenty of time will be carved out to take to the glider of one front porch and to the rocking chairs of another in order to bade the long, hot and humid summer farewell, to greet autumn’s subtly brisk charms and, when the holiday season really arrives, to smile broadly upon hearing Burl and Andy in the proper seasonal context.

After all, their crooning will signal that even though winter is nigh, spring cannot be far behind.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).