Summer's unexpected delights are already becoming grainy snapshots: catching a rogue mini-wave, riding it high into the shore, noticing at the last second that you're flying side-by-side with someone you love who caught the same wave. Watching a tadpole grow legs and become a frog. Tackling a wildly enthusiastic puppy who's just smashed through the back-door screen to get closer to the action. Picking tart fresh apples, doubling our favorite ingredients in Melissa's recipe and baking apple crisp before bedtime.
Endless nights (with no homework!) allowing Harry Potter read-aloud marathons. Siblings on the road singing out better-than-the-shower harmonies on "God Only Knows." And, in addition to all this bucolic bliss, taking a raucous group water-thrill ride at Emerald Pointe.
For all the scripted, choreographed outings we take, it seems like there's some kind of Rule of Family enjoyment dictating that the real fun-quotient is inversely related to the amount of planning that precedes the event.
In the waning of the Harvest Moon, nature provides the best show these days, totally on her whim. Spontaneity rules the land. A family of deer scampering across the road, ignoring all the solid yellow lines. Waves of fireflies, silently energizing the dusk. Finding, while making breakfast, an egg with a double yolk. Grasping autumn's airborne diving, spinning leaf bounty. Arriving for the season, a V of Canada geese. Grabbing a sweater to go out at night and wish on falling stars.
The favorite, enduring family snapshots aren't the posed frames. Give me the bad-hair days, the weird backgrounds, the out-of-focus aunts and the animals (all of us) in motion. Stock up on film as the evenings cool and oatmeal replaces cornflakes, and thermoses replace water bottles.
All the while, never to be denied, looming ever larger on the horizon of equity loans and allowance advances, the State Fair, the Mother of all Just-One-More-Please's, is already on the calendar.
Holiday mail-order catalogs already washing over us beg the final question in fall's trajectory: Is Halloween this weekend?