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Jennie Lay: Summer girl

Jennie Lay

So there I was, lounging aimlessly on my couch last weekend.

Mid-August, and it was the first completely lazy, purposeless day I’d had all summer. It was deep into afternoon, I was still in my pajamas and the prospect of a pancake lunch was on the horizon. Surrounded by two weeks of Sunday New York Times, a stack of tantalizing magazines and the Literary Sojourn book I was thinking I should catch up on, I sank listlessly back into my slightly misshapen, overstuffed denim pillows to admire the boisterous chirping of the birds and the dappled sunlight pouring through my open windows.

That’s when my husband, in a similarly catatonic state, noticed the first offending golden leaves that broke my magic summer spell.

It was a lone aspen, with a single gangly branch peeking above the garage. But a handful of leaves had the audacity to have turned yellow.

I was horrified. I started thinking of all the summer things I haven’t done yet — the trails I need to hike, the bonfires I wanted to have, picnic lunches I anticipated enjoying in the park. House projects, yard projects, art projects. Road trips, camping trips, a river trip.

For the first summer of my life, I haven’t even been to the beach. It’s incomprehensible. And shouldn’t I have at least several more fruitless days filled with no greater ambition than migrating from my couch, outside to my lounge chair and back to my couch?

I felt robbed.

Upon spying that offending branch, I promptly peeled myself out of repose. I leered at it. Then I stepped out onto the decks, in front and in back of my house, to make sure it had no cohorts. The rest of the aspens appeared as a tinkling sea of green, thank goodness.

But I have a confession to make — and it’s not a good premonition for the dog days of summer.

I had my first ski dream about a week ago. It was a displaced, confusing adventure in that way only dreams can be, with morphed ski mountains and incomprehensibly mixed-up gear strapped to my feet. But I was definitely skiing.

And then there’s been this compulsion I’ve had lately to learn how to knit. I’m thinking hats, scarves and hip ponchos. These are not vestiges of summer, I realize.

So maybe the handful of prematurely turning leaves is not the only offender.

One more week, and I’m back to school. That’s a sure sign of fall, no matter how many young freshmen will be lying out on the quad in their bikinis and wearing flip flops until the snowflakes fly.

I am never sad to see fall or winter come, but I’m always sad to see the summer go.

This is not a complaint. Summer has been short, but sweet. As always, the quantity of enticing things to do in the Yampa Valley has been over the top.

And lucky me, I got to experience and write about a lot of them. It has kept me busy beyond belief and reassured me that this vibrant community is a good place to let my roots grow deep and my interests stay gangly.

Soon I’ll be back on the road, listening to weird conspiracy radio shows and watching the rest of the leaves turn flaming yellow. I won’t be around here much, but I’ll be thinking of this valley often.

Then the next thing we’ll know, there really will be snow on the ground and all this summer lust will be a distant memory buried beneath heaps of glorious champagne powder.

It’s a little bittersweet for me.

But don’t worry, this summer girl wouldn’t miss ski season for anything. And judging from that flamboyant little clump of leaves in my front yard, do I dare venture to say, “It’s gonna be a good one.”


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