A farewell to summer

I rarely do this.

I can think of only one other time when I’ve published someone else’s material for my weekly Herald column. But this purloined piece is too good to ignore.

Right now Kathy and I are “up north” on Girl Lake near Longville, Minnesota, being hosted by our good friend Linda Sidey of Greenfield at her lake home. I’m putting this column together on Saturday, Aug. 28. 

Linda’s late husband, Ed Sidey, was the former publisher of the Adair County Free Press at Greenfield, a storied Iowa weekly newspaper. Ed was the fourth generation of Sideys to serve as editor-publisher in Greenfield. He and his brother Hugh grew up working at the paper with their father, K.H. Sidey.  The brothers both enlisted in the U.S. Army and then enrolled in Iowa State University’s journalism department at Ames, where they wrote for the Iowa State Daily for four years.

They then both wrote for the Omaha World-Herald. Ed returned to Greenfield to join their dad at the paper, and Hugh moved on to Life magazine and then Time magazine, where he covered the U.S. presidency for over 50 years. 

Ed’s weekly “Thoughts at Random” in the Free Press was one of Iowa’s most beloved newspaper columns. Because it’s now the end of summer, and because we’re at the Sidey lake home, I’m stealing his late-summer column from 1985, with blessings from Linda. Hope you enjoy it as we did.

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Where has summer gone?

All across the land, people are asking themselves and others that question. We are approaching Labor Day, that divide between summer and fall, and most of us are wondering, as usual, what happened to June, July and August.

The question is rhetorical. If the truth were known, most of us really would prefer not to know what happened to summer. Better for us if summer was captured by a fanatic Moslem faction and is being held hostage in Beirut. Then there would be hope for a release.

We really know what happened to summer, but we are loathe to admit it. Where has summer gone? It has gone into work and worry and too much hurry. It has gone into planting seeds and pulling weeds. It has gone into too many meetings and not enough greetings of old friends and visiting strangers.

But along the way, the lucky ones among us will recall the stolen moments that also mean summer. Where has summer gone? It has trickled away in a pause to watch welcomed drops of rain coursing down a window pane. It has slumbered away to the sound of soft rain in the night drumming on the roof. Summer has swayed away in a hammock swinging between trees. It has rocked away on the porch in the cool of a summer evening.

Where has summer gone? It has swirled away in the churning cloud of a summer thunderstorm, with the cool wind slicing through the humidity and bringing the fresh rain smell just before the rain begins.

Where has summer gone? It has wafted its way into our memory, like the smell of the first roses in June. It is there, waiting to be taken out like a favorite old book or song, in the middle of winter, and treasured all over again. If you don’t have a bit of summer like that stored up inside, you had better hurry. You still have a few days to capture it, and store it up against the cold of winter. ~EJS

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