The End of Summer ~ 夏の終わり
There was no need to wake me up when September ended. At exactly midnight, rain crashed into Taipei and washed it away. The next morning was a clear one, but I didn’t feel as hot on my walk to school as I usually do. When I stepped out of the classroom in the afternoon, the wind felt different, and the trees were moving differently. That’s when I knew summer was over. (If it’s already cold where you live, maybe you should move here!)
My friend Kathleen loved two songs about summer. One was “The Boys of Summer,” and the other was the Vivaldi concerto. We wondered, which one better describes the season? Is it epic, fun, and fleeting, or is it dehydrating, dramatic, and dangerous? I related to Henley more when I lived in air conditioned America, but after six years in the south, I have to side with Vivaldi. Summer is even too hot for the flowers. At some point every year, I look forward to the weather cooling down.
But when it actually does, I feel like I’ve lost something. It’s still warm, but I remember being warmer. I want to have that feeling again, but I can’t.
There’s a song about this feeling. It’s Japanese: I think no culture has used natural metaphors as well and as extensively as they have. The singer and songwriter is a young man named Moriyama Naotarou, and the song is called “夏の終わり / Natsu no Owari / The End of Summer.” Here’s a version with the wonderful original video and excellent subtitles:
(Here’s another version with clear sound, a homemade video, and the musical arrangement from the album.)
When I first heard this song, I felt like I’d always known it. A good junior high English prompt would be to pause the song after the opening bars of pure singing and ask the class to describe the singer’s emotions.
Bill James once said, “[Aging is] like baking bread, or cooking an omelet. The baking of the bread helps the bread up to a point, and then, if you leave the bread in the oven beyond that point, the same things continue to happen, only they don’t HELP the bread any more; they begin to ruin the bread.” I’m entering the summer of my life. God willing, I’ll stay in the oven for many years, but the heat will change me.
I’m not morose about it. My life changed five times this decade; I know how to deal with it now. When good things come, I appreciate them. When good things pass away, I appreciate having had them. The flowers that bloomed in spring are gone, but they’re still vivid in my memories. This year, I’d like to describe them to you.