The end of summer, somehow not the same

How a September day in 2001 broke the rhythm of this sweet, sad, seasonal turning.

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The ruins of the World Trade Center

How a September day in 2001 broke the rhythm of this sweet, sad, seasonal turning.

This day is dressed up as not-summer. Not cold, at all, but grey.

What is shall soon not be, and what is shall not be returning soon. It is the end of the year, the harvest year, the end of summer. For most of the winter and near all of the spring, the weather seemed cast by the economy — spiteful, helpless, incriminating. Finally, for August, Nature came alone, on her own, without the politics — and the children's legs were browned and the berries sweetened.

Had this Western civilization not so foolishly abandoned seasons and history, there would have been no financial crisis in August. The best and the brightest, the cruelest and the most venal, would have all been on vacation, or at least on humor. But the seasons are being paved, either by food or phone or air conditioning.

The end of summer is a heartbreak — any fool knows that. The people of Cape Breton celebrate with community bonfires and a tear-jerker of a song, " I Wish all My Children Were Babies Again," and they cry and cry.

Ten years ago, on a blue sky September morning that promised and promised and suited our homespun prosperity, 9/11 started. It was a disaster that is yet a disaster. It toppled what no one imagined could be toppled. It toppled what a direct military assault could never have toppled — our confidence, our confidence in our success and in each other. Our revenge was swift and cruel and cold. And to some degree, a comfort.

But repair has its own time. And each shoe bomber, each cell in Hoboken, each riot or island massacre has ripped anew at the healing. 9/11 caused many losses but there is one that seems yet untended. The end of summer is a heartbreak and then we repair by preparing for winter, the food and shelter of every mammal. And it was precisely that rhythm, that cycle, that 50,000-year-old DNA, that was scattered and broken by 9/11 and left us frightened and disoriented in a way more profound than war alone.

We lost the Fall. The September sun, our private Indian Summer reflection, a review of children, and future and work to be done. It is a rhythm that was taken for granted, then it was taken.


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About the Authors & Contributors

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Peter Miller

Peter Miller is owner of Peter Miller Books, a store in Seattle specializing in architecture and design books. You can reach him in care of