Summer gives way to the new year – and it’s all good


“These precious days”: Remember those lyrics to the popular old song sung by Walter Huston? It seems right as I report on the past and our hopes for the new year.

We got down to Narrow River and our little retreat on a street named, perhaps, for a publisher – Harcourt Avenue – a little late this year, in mid-July. It took me a while to pop in on our neighbors, who live in very small houses but have wondrous yards and views. Maybe they see the river, with its ever-changing wildlife. Otters, groundhogs, egrets and herons, cormorants and gulls, and sandpipers galore. Their backyards may host sunken goldfish ponds, or arbors, and, behind and beyond, an illusion of wilderness, of Eden.

I stop by to pay my respects to the couples I have shared breakfasts with over quite a number of decades. I seem to stand for Summer Itself In Person to some of them, and although here in little Rhody we are often a mixture of ethnic genes and cousins, I may be the symbolic Jewish household, with the memorial candle flickering on the open screened porch through the evenings.

Sometimes a day goes by without much to write about. More often, there are too many events to cover in detail.

July, of course, is the patriotic month and I hunt for fresh flags to fly, either the red, white and blue ones or the state’s golden anchor with that blessed word, “Hope.”

August means moon high tides, and warmer and sometimes calmer swims.

Some of my fellow swimmers know my name, and I can greet them in return. Others I know only by smiles and salutes.

I love the small fry in their bonnets and also the senior citizens of the coast, and also their shapes: slim, plump, tall and small.

As the tides change and the clock ticks and the sunsets come ever-earlier – but only slightly so – my thoughts likewise shift gears. Every day, I mix the cocktails of my concerns with melancholy and merriment as these holy hours (precious days) continue through the seventh month, or the ninth month, depending on what calendar or Roman numeral you are concentrating upon.

Of course, for us Jews, it’s the first month of the new year.

MIKE FINK ( teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.

summer, Rosh Hashanah, Mike Fink, Sketchbook