By Doug Jackson
“Summer,” wrote Ernest Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald, “is a discouraging time to work – You don’t feel death coming on the way it does in the fall when the boys really put pen to paper.” Charlotte, that Christ-like arachnid who was both a good friend and a good writer, might have disagreed. “Some Pig” was a child of the halcyon season at the bottom of the calendar.
Still, there is something about this time of year, “when yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang,” that leaves me feeling that time’s winged chariot is not only drawing near but seems to be positively tailgating. Writer Tim Kreider describes it as something akin to terror, “of time passing, the calendar running out, things left undone.” Kreider rescues himself from his slugfest with this particular tar baby by compiling what my friend Andrew Lazo calls a “to done” list: all the things he did do over the summer to set in the credit column against all those plans that seem not so much still to be born as stillborn.
So here goes: This summer I went to Six Flags with no kids, only my wife. We rode stuff that crunched our aging bones and insulted our increasingly creaky gyroscopes and ate stuff that offered a similar insult to our digestive tracks. We sat down when we grew weary and left when we felt like it. This summer I went to a Texas Rangers game, again only with Becky. This summer I saw two Shakespeare plays in two parks. One was very good and one was so bad we left before the first act ended. But that one was free and local so we weren’t out any significant money or time and had a good story to tell. This summer I completed a writing project on which I’d come very close to showing the white feather. This summer I spent a night and two days in a Houston hospital helping to care for a relative struck with a devastating illness in the cruel and unfair way such things happen. This summer I lost weight and I read a John Grisham novel and washed it down with a Tom Clancy, giving my brain the junk food my body had to forego.
Yeah, it’s fall: Time to admit that death is coming on and that I really am not “Some Pig” but just some pig, one more bacon-bearer destined for Time’s axe and hoping I can at least provide some decent bacon for those who come afterward. Time to leave off fighting o’ days and feasting o’ nights and begin to patch up my old body, if not for Heaven, at least for the fall semester. But it was a good summer. I couldn’t keep it any more than I could keep that stunningly sweet watermelon fresh in the refrigerator. But I could eat the melon, which is what they are for, and what I did.
Doug Jackson is a preacher/professor/poet who after a quarter-century in the pastorate now teaches spiritual formation, pastoral ministry, and Greek for the Logsdon Seminary program at the South Texas School of Christian Studies in Corpus Christi. His collection of poetry, Nothing There is Not More, is available from Finishing Line Press.