So starts "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. It continues, "it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. "
This time of year, the end of August, just five days from Labor Day weekend seems like it fits that quote. It falls between summer and winter, between the carefree days of summer and the start of a new school year, between health and illness, between life and death. It is a time to reflect back, to look forward. I know this is usually done in January, the month named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces, one to look back and one to look forward. But there doesn't seem to be real change on January 1st. All the changes are arbitrary, man made. Summer to autumn is a change that has been going on for a long time. It's time to revel in the last days of the growing season, to enjoy the warmth, and it's the time of harvest, the time to prepare for winter, and it holds both seasons close.
I have watched a little this weekend of the memorial services for Edward Kennedy. The passing of the last Kennedy son of his generation is a time marker. I've not followed his career much, but knew of some of his problems from news reports. Yet I heard a report during these last few days that I had not heard before. We had all heard about Chappaquiddick, but how many had heard of Jessica Katz, a little girl dying in a Russian hospital, that was brought to the US through Kennedy's intervention? She's now working in New York to help find homes for the homeless. There was bad, but there was also good. And so the story continues.
My extended family lost Cesar, the cocker last year, Scooter the beagle mix in February and Abby the yellow lab in July. Cesar was the only dog I know who would beg for salad. I remember when Scooter was a puppy and came to visit, still sporting her little pink stitches from being fixed. I will always remember Abby picking up all five dog bowls after dinner during a family get together in San Antonio. And while it's sad, there's joy, too, to meet the new additions, Shiraz the beagle/Brittany mix, Belle, the new yellow lab puppy, equipped with sharp puppy teeth, the energy of youth and the attention span of a fly, and Ziva, the rescued poodle puppy who is a scaredy-chicken but is as cute as a button. There was bad, but there was also good. And so the story continues.
Walter the pug was injured last month, still struggles, goes to therapy, trying to get whole again. But in that time, how much good have we seen? The healing blanket, the Indy bloggers package, the latest package from Loren, all the good wishes and support for someone most haven't met. There was bad, but there was also good. And so the story continues.
We are ready to flip the calendar to a new month, just like changing from one day to the next. This is a time of change. A chill is in the air (okay, it's not supposed to be in the 50s in Chicago in August, but that's a whole other story!), new notebooks are in the stores, football preseason is in progress. This change doesn't have to be in the superlative. It doesn't have to be the best, or the worst, but most things in life seem to be a little bad and a little good. And maybe we really can't know the good, appreciate the good unless we also know a bit of the bad. It makes the good just a little bit sweeter. And so the story continues.