A Midwest summer’s descent: What it feels like in August
I’ll pocket summer’s glow until I grow tired of the longtime chill that awaits us, and yearn for its warmth once more.
- Madison Lotenschtein is a writer living in Iowa City.
I never thought I’d gaze longingly at the rolling hills of Iowa. We made our descent to the Eastern Iowa Airport tarmac, the plane landing soon after with a muted thud. I’m usually more excited to depart on a new adventure instead of heading home, but summer had arrived in its lush Midwestern glory, and I couldn’t wait to bask in it.
That was May. This is August. Already, I feel summer making a Midwestern exit: slow, polite, inching toward the door that leads to autumn. Part of me feels the need to take its hand and yank it into a crisp morning where the leaves crunch beneath your feet and the moody sky lurks above you. But everything that is sudden is also gradual. Suddenly you wake up one morning, no longer in love with summer, when in all reality the falling out began when watering your plants became a chore rather than a fun activity two weeks ago.
We love what we can until we grow weary of it; weary of the sun and bugs and humidity. It’s an intense love Midwesterners have with their seasons. Extreme in heat and cold in rain or shine, you have to love the seasons back with the same intensity, otherwise you’ll never make it. If you’re indifferent, you either don’t live here or haven’t lived here long enough. I love summer, with its evening sun shining through the trees and the late night thunderstorms that follow. I admire the yellow flowers that grow along the highway, and appreciate the warm candor of an afternoon breeze.
Yet every August I find myself resenting summer’s precious presence. Every year I fail to keep my promise: “I will not start complaining about the heat. I would have given anything for the blazing sun in mid-April.” Humanity wants what it has to wait for. We spend most of our lives waiting, and while most claim they don’t enjoy the queue, I think, deep down, that they do. We live in a state of want and wait and receive and enjoy and want and wait again. The human experience would be incomplete without it.
The human experience would also be incomplete without loving one thing and wanting another in the same moment. You can wish that you’d wake up one morning to a cool breeze whisking away red-toned leaves, all while admiring the drama of a summer thunderstorm. Our minds are so capable of so much — I often wonder what we’ll become mentally aware of next. The “next” is part of what makes a season a season. A hot Iowa summer would be less sweet without the chill of fall. We wouldn’t be anything without an ending and that goes for the world around us. The seasons depart and leave nothing but their memory. I’ll pocket summer’s glow until I grow tired of the longtime chill that awaits us, and yearn for its warmth once more.
Madison Lotenschtein is a writer living in Iowa City. If you can't find her reading and writing, you can find her answering emails at email@example.com.