The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call "poetic memory" and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our life beautiful.
--Milan Kundera, from "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"
Summer is officially over. Not because classes have started or because the equinox has passed, but because most of the students have finally trickled back into town for the big dorm move-in this weekend. The dad and I went out to lunch yesterday, only to be confronted by crowds of obnoxious undergrads all wearing permutations of five wardrobe artifacts: flip flops, Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts, slutty tops, gaucho pants, and $100 jeans. Admittedly, I was prepared for this. I had the feeling that summer was just about over when two nights ago I saw a girl dressed in Daisy Duke jean shorts, a backless top, and silver (SILVER!!) high heeled shoes. It didn't help her case that I spotted her on the street corner.
Despite being prepared, I'm sad to see the season go. Summer is my favorite time of year in GradSchoolShitTownVille. The hordes of undergrads have all leaked out of town by mid-May, and I get to enjoy a few of the advantages of living in a small town. Bars, restaurants, and movie theatres are all empty, allowing me to patronize the local businesses and travel through the streets without the traumas of getting mooned by drunk sorority sisters.
I decided not to pay my gym fees this summer to save a bit of money, so I didn't have access to the university pool, my usual scene for exercise. This summer I played like I was in the Tour de France, going on 1.5 hour bike rides down country roads. At some point in July, I got tired of my usual route and I started heading in different directions on the backroads that begin only a few miles from my little house. Last night, I headed plain east, looking for where the highways end and the byways begin.
I discovered two sections of biological research areas owned by the university, forest and prairie. Moss covered the fallen trees huddled on top of each other, mirroring the wild structures that reside in my own poetic memory. The rusted hurricane fences, barbed wire, and trespasser warnings prevented me from entering, but not from recalling happily my own adventures into the forests. Past the biological areas, the roads became hilly and the copses non-native farm trees thickened. The great Midwestern sky was pink from the setting sun, surrounding everything. I felt like I might fall into it.