The crows were gone. The teenage birds that cursed me on spring mornings from the wire of the street light in front of my house had either grown up or gone on to better things. My midsummer walk south into Long Beach was almost silent compared to early June.
The sound of the cars on South Street passed for low water over a gravel bed. There was a steady chirping coming from the trees behind the house opposite mine, and the zit-zit-zit of a hummingbird beyond my limited vision.
The sky overhead was skim-mike glaucous at the zenith and freshly poured concrete gray at the horizon. There was a breeze from the west, but only a little.
The transition from the end of July into August and September is like the photographic negative of winter in places where it snows. There, the burial of the green world in white offers up metaphors of renewal. We get midsummer and what others mistake for uninterrupted riot.
It isn't. We're paused for a week or two between regimes of light, air, and summer.
The irrigated green of Los Angeles is still there, but at the ragged edges of my neighborhood, what had been flourishing a month ago is stolid now as if hunkered down for the temperatures to come. There are dried leaves of sycamores caught in the chainlink fences of front yards. Seedpods from some sort of tree have been ground to an amber powder by walkers. It will be there tomorrow and every after until the first good rain, another four or five months away
The season was in suspense on Sunday morning, but not in everything.
The eucalyptus trees have shed long strips of last year's bark into the gutters along South Street. Their nude trunks are a pale yellow-green for now. The passionflower vine edging the flood control channel fence is ready to unfold another bloom of blue and artificial-looking flowers. The filigree of crepe myrtle blossoms had disappeared from street trees. The pick-up game of basketball on the court at Mayfair Park continued, as it does almost every day.
Sunday was a good day. One summer was over. After a pause, there will be another.