Today is the first full day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Which made yesterday – officially anyway – the last day of summer.
But as humans we have a tenuous and shifting concept of time, and our personal last day of summer rarely matches up with the last day of summer on the calendar.
As a kid growing up the States, the last day of summer for me was always Labor Day – the first Monday in September – the last day before school started back up again.
But as an adult it changes every year.
In 2002, my last day of summer came in October. My wife and I were in the kitchen of our downtown condo, listening to the Minnesota Twins lose their playoff series to the California Angels in crushing fashion, as my Step-dad clung to life in a hospital bed. It was a summer of real hope and light, but it ended that early fall in almost complete darkness. I remember Adam Kennedy, of all people, hitting three home runs for the Angels that lonely Sunday afternoon.
Nine years later – and two years ago today – my summer ended on the first day of fall, when my wife and I had to put our old dog down. The sky was mournfully blue that morning, with white patches of clouds that looked like steps into the heavens. Later that afternoon it clouded over completely and a cold wind kicked up out of the north. From summer to winter in just a few short hours.
And as I have written about before, the summer of 1989 also ended in October – October 8th to be exact – though that year the best stretch of Autumn weather I can ever remember stretched on for weeks following that awful Sunday.
Today is the first full day of fall, but it feels like the last day of summer, and so that’s what it is.
The English international cricket summer ended earlier this week, as Australia defeated England to take the ODI series. The county season ends later this week with a whole host of championship matches. But as we all know, cricket is not a finite sport with seasons and endings – it stretches on forever – with domestic competitions in the southern hemisphere starting up again soon – and we are only three months away from Ashes II.
But still, when those Championship matches end on 27 September, it will feel for many as the last day of summer. The long shadows across the pitches, the chill in the late afternoon air, and that feeling of deep and unexplainable melancholy that sits in our chests.
I think the coming of those matches next week, and the ending of the international season on Thursday, at least half explain why my brain has decided today is my personal autumnal equinox. So much to look forward to in April, and now it is all but over.
For cricket fans in 1939, the last day of summer was September 1st when six Championship matches ended. That same day, Germany invaded Poland. And so when that summer finished, it didn’t come back for six long years. (I have written about the summer of ’39 previously).
Same deal in 1914: the last matches of that season ended on September 1 as the winds of war whipped across Europe, and the pitches sat empty until 1919.
Sometimes winters last longer than they should.
We’ve all had those winters.
And so today is my last day of summer, but for some it was weeks ago, and for others it will be weeks from now. For some cricket fans it was earlier this week in Cardiff, for others it will be 09/27 at Hove. For some baseball fans it will be the last day of the regular season in a couple weeks, but for a lucky few it won’t be until the end of October.
It was not entirely the case this year, but I have on many an occasion used to a match or game to mark the end of summer. And while non-sports people will cast spurious glances at those of us who use sport to mark time by – I think the fact that sport allows us to place the passage of the seasons into easy to understand patterns is one of the best things about these silly games we endlessly obsess over.
At any rate, happy last day of summer, everyone – whenever it may be – and may it be a short and mild winter, and may spring be here before we know it.
*Last day of summer, 2012