Listen: have you heard it? That relentless, buzzing, whining noise of the cicadas. I don’t know much about my insects, in fact, I had to “google it” to be sure they are in fact cicadas (they are), but I do know that I rarely hear these sounds in June. My husband confirms what is in the back of my mind: must be the end of summer, those cicadas are really making a racket.
I admonish him, don’t say it. Just keep it quiet. Let those bugs drone on endlessly; no need to comment on what they portend.
I tell my friend that I will ride my bike to her house to watch a movie that night. When I arrive, she says, “When this is over, you better call a cab. Can’t have you riding home in the dark.” I pooh-pooh that notion, “It’s summer, Louise, there will be plenty of light.” Later (9:00 at night!), I ride my bike home along the sidewalk, certainly not in the street where a car could easily strike this dark figure on a bicycle with no light.
Just when I start to feel hopeless, because I love summer, I worship summer, with all its warmth and freedom and fresh air, along comes the greatest distraction of all time: The Minnesota State Fair.
Oh, and it is just the distraction I need. I am so busy planning my “route” (first the Creative Activities building, then moving on to the animal barn with a detour to Sweet Martha’s Cookies), that I stop hearing the cicadas and stop noticing the encroaching darkness.
But then, just as quickly as it arrives, the fair ends. And I am crushed. Labor Day is here. The cicadas have packed their bags, the maple leaf dares to change to red, and I have to turn my reading lamp on at 6:00. I bid goodbye to my beloved summer.
To my mind, there are two ways to look at this: either the State Fair is a wonderful way to celebrate summer, or, more likely, it is meant to be a distraction from the pain that awaits us.
I love the State Fair, but I am aware that, like the Wizard of Oz, it is admonishing us to “pay no attention to that man”, let’s call him Old Man Winter, behind the curtain. Yes, that wizard which we lovingly call the “The Great Minnesota Get-Together” is attempting to draw our attention elsewhere, trying to distract us from the certain knowledge that cold, months and months of endless numbing cold, and ice and snow are just around the curtain.
Yes, I know the truth; hard times they are a-comin’. For now, like all good Minnesotans, I’ll ignore the man behind the curtain. I’ll peruse the quilts and the horses and the vendors, grab another free bag, take a bite of my corn dog, and savor these last glorious days of summer.