Now, in August, I am here once again -- at this line where summer begins its sad song. I can hear a flute echoing down the shore, wending its way along the ribbons of the coast. In a matter of weeks, the celebration will end, and overnight the crowded beaches will grow bare. Even if we still have warm days, they will be different now; they will be shorter and shaded with shadows: eclipsed by the approaching presence of fall. And I will walk beside the water, inhaling the briny scent of kelp and hearing the tumult of waves.
Even without thinking I will feel loss. The laughter will be gone, the season will be shifting, and I will see this year heading toward a gate. Some part of me will also be glad -- glad to have the beach returned to me -- empty now of tourists -- a wide sheet of ivory sand. The shorebirds will claim their places again, free from distractions, except for an intermittent jogger or a dog. And I will have this boundless air: a place where my mind can travel, soaring above blue water into that infinite space of peace.
There will be September, August's neighbor, shouldering in with its promise of crimson, with its fluttering liquid ambers. Soon crowded schoolyards and bustling commuters jamming the streets of Junipero, Padre and Mission, will trump the summer clamor on Upper State Street and the din of downtown. Santa Barbara will settle back into "our town," not theirs. We will return to our rhythms, our people, our workday worlds.
And I will watch the clock turning -- a girl bred of summer, a woman who follows the sun -- and I will bow, once more, to the passing of these glistening days.