The mornings and evenings, and even some of the days, are starting to get cooler.
Long-sleeve shirts, jeans, hoodies and sweats are starting to appear again, pulled off shelves and hangers for the first time in months.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, because it’s September, and September’s going to September.
But somehow, even during a time when every day is a week, every week a month, every month a year and the year as a whole an eternity, September managed to sneak up on us.
September is shoulder season on Cape Cod, when most of the tourists and summer-home owners have taken their leave but the weather is still good enough to enjoy the beaches without all the people.
So yeah, don’t sleep on September for exciting travel experiences, but there haven’t and won’t be any this year. (Maybe next year, Switzerland!)
We didn’t get to do the annual winter-is-finally-over jaunt to New Hampshire and Maine.
It wound up being a little more than an hour away.
I’m not sure if I could vouch for their business practices, but at least a lot of the filthy rich from the late 19th and early 20th centuries left nice houses — the Newport Mansions, Baltimore Estate and so on — for the rest of us to visit and admire.
The Crane Estate at Castle Hill in Ipswich is in that same vein — a 59-room mansion on 165 acres. Tickets were limited and only good for three hours, and we couldn’t go in the house for … you know … reasons, but the scenery alone was more than adequate, even if we only hit about half of it.
Yet as impressive as the views were, there was another attraction in the distance … for people willing to walk down the hill.
A trail beckons through a wooded area (as long as you don’t bring alcohol), and at the end, the beach awaits.
On a normal Labor Day, I imagine it, like the estate itself, would be full of people, especially in glorious weather.
But instead, small groups gathered or walked here and there, and a couple people worked on their boats, with plenty of room for everyone. As a fan of staying away from other people at the beach (and not just for health and safety reasons) that was fine by me.
I’m not sure we were aware of it in the moment, but we covered a fair amount of the beach, so when it was time to head back, we could have gone back the way we came or try to find the trail on our map.
We chose the trail … to go back uphill … from a beach named Steep Hill Beach.
This could have been interesting … .
“Awww … come on.”
It’s one thing to say that once, but every time the scenery changes? But that’s what Suzi said multiple times as we walked through the marsh along the creek on the way back up the hill.
I must say, it made the climb a lot less tiring.
Our walk complete, we drove into town for an outdoor lunch, followed by ice cream at the Dairy Queen.
All in all, it was a most-excellent adventure, but the fun really started the night before, and it was less than 10 miles from my house.
“There were tales of college hijinks — there always are — but there was also Mix’s 13-year-old daughter being so obvious that she has a crush on the neighborhood boy she constantly called an “idiot.”
And yes, we (OK, mostly I) ribbed her about it, because, let’s be honest … we were all 13 once.”
“So are you guys interested in a cookout on Labor Day weekend?”
“Go on …”
“We would love to have you guys over …”
“Sounds good to me.”
This is how a text conversation between Mix and me that started with explaining something about NASCAR (Mix is fairly new to the sport) ended Suzi and I spending several hours in Mix’s yard with Mix, his wife, their daughter and his mother.
The London broil, potato salad, corn on the cop and peach cobbler — along with Suzi’s maple-and-brown-sugar cookies and Nutella brownies — were amazing.
The company was even better, so we laughed our heads off from mid-afternoon to long past when most of us usually go to bed.
There were tales of college hijinks — there always are — but there was also Mix’s 13-year-old daughter being so obvious that she has a crush on the neighborhood boy she constantly called an “idiot.”
And yes, we (OK, mostly I) ribbed her about it, because, let’s be honest … we were all 13 once.
There was also no small amount of mooning over Timothee Chalamet between her and my much-older-than-13-year-old wife.
He’s handsome enough, I guess.
But it wasn’t just a fun night.
It was a boost for my spirits, because Mix has this knack — whether it’s hockey, golf or barbecue and a fire pit — of reaching out to me exactly when I need it.
And now, fun complete, we resume normal life during this most-unusual time.