We are, I think, creatures of nature. More so than we like to admit. As much as we complain about the end of summer, the end of fun times, the end of short-sleeve mornings and out-on-the-Bay days, there is a little animal inside us that gets more than vaguely uncomfortable if the change of season doesn't happen on schedule. We may yearn for endless summer in our minds and hearts, but in our hypothalami, way down in our jittery little ids, I think we crave the regulatory comfort of the seasons.
This, at any rate, is how I had sized it all up on a wet and chilly afternoon in late October, hunkered down with a nice cup of coffee and an even nicer book at Hard Bean Coffee and Booksellers in Annapolis, one of Wendy Clarke's recommendations in her "Bookstores By Boat" feature in this issue. My book of choice: The Book of Wooden Boats. The coffee: Kenyan. The season: fall, at last, and decidedly so. It was even a bit Novemberish--angry gray skies, sidewalks littered with slippery orange leaves, rain and chill sneaking in under the umbrella. But that was all outside. I was inside, warm and dry, with my book and my coffee. And I was unreasonably happy, inexplicably pleased with the situation. I figured it out quickly enough: summer had ended at last, and Mr. Id was quite relieved. Just a week earlier the daytime temperatures had inched alarmingly close to 90 on a couple of occasions, the trees were still mostly green, and Mr. Id had begun to worry that something had gone terribly wrong--that perhaps the season would not change. He had begun to worry that this year there may not be a long, cold, dark, stomach-growling, spirit-crushing, bone-chilling, cave-dwelling starving time. He found that very upsetting.
I know . . . it's counterintuitive, but there it is. And please don't confuse me by pointing out that we don't have to go too far south--Florida, for instance--to find what most of us would indeed consider endless summer. That doesn't just confuse me and undermine my pat theory of human nature; it confounds Mr. Id, who simply can't imagine life without seasons. Mr. Ego has no trouble with the concept; in fact, he finds it quite appealing. But Mr. Ego isn't calling the shots, is he? He thinks he is, but he isn't.
So there we were, just the two of us, drooling over Ben Mendlowitz's gorgeous wooden-boat pictures and reveling in the cool air that rushed in with every new and departing customer. Then we headed up the hill and around the circle to Maryland Avenue, where we found and bought a 1973 book club edition of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions--a book I already own, though not in hardcover and not with the original orange-and-yellow, oh-so-seventies dust jacket.
You could call this playing hooky, I suppose. It was, after all, a Friday afternoon, and I could have been back at the office, helping my trusty staff put the finishing touches on this issue. But somebody had to check out the local bookstores in Wendy's story, make sure we had everything spelled right and what have you. Okay, that's lame. The truth is I just had to get Mr. Id out into the cool fall weather.
By the time you read this, no doubt, he'll be ready for spring. He's awfully hard to please.