It's high summer now and yet there are preludes of things to come ... and somehow 'preludes' is one of those arrogant, got-things-pigeon-holed words that hardly bears scrutiny.
From the porch and across the street, my neighbor's Japanese maple has edged away from a regal maroon and in the heated days begun to display a rusty green ... a sure sign that it is gearing up for the brown of fall and winter. But how can what is yet-to-be not be here already? Nothing mystical -- just a plain fact. Life has no edges. Only people who talk about 'preludes' try to hog-tie what is.
In the far distance, behind the other bird calls, there is a chorus of blue jays somewhere. Jays are so insistent and seemingly self-important. They are like the one member of a group who, whenever he opens his mouth, says something that is boring ... and his volume lets you know that he expects you to listen and be impressed. Jays are the harbinger of death and cold in my mind. They say, "Get ready! Winter is coming! The last rose of summer is right around the corner!" Where there are jays, Canada geese are bound to follow and, shortly thereafter, snowblowers. It's a prelude but the question remains, what prelude?
The philosophical squirming that preludes can excite is pretty tedious. T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" ... what an elegant effort to nail things down from all directions. "Time past and time present/ Are both perhaps present in time future...." But when has elegance ever eased the human heart, the heart burdened and uncertain in a world of preludes?
You can't tell people to stop ingesting philosophical or religious or poetic answers. You can only wait until they drop, sweaty and spent, and begin to enjoy themselves.