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Summer's nearly gone? Bring on fall

I know everyone is saying this these days, but I have to ask: Where did the summer go?

It seems like just days ago I shot pictures at the last graduation ceremony at the old Farmington High School. Now we're planning what kinds of stories we'll write about the new FHS. The Dakota County Fair has passed, and I'm already trying to schedule my time at the Minnesota State Fair.

And what happens after that? School starts. Not that I have any kids in school, mind you. It's just that somehow, the opening of school signals a realization -- my entire summer seems to have slipped by. And I'm a summer kind of person, so this really bums me out.

I guess maybe that's what happens when you have two jobs, too. A lot of work means not as much time for play. I had a third job last summer, so I rarely got up to my parents' cabin in Wisconsin. When I didn't take on the third again this year, I figured I'd have more time to get up there this year. I've been there three times since Memorial Day. I bought a seasonal out-of-state fishing license, and used it once.

I'd always heard the old saying, "Time flies by when you're having fun," and I guess that's true. Not that working has always been fun, but for sure time has flown by. For the most part, it's been fun. Despite the long hours I pulled while Nathan was on vacation in June, I had a lot of fun going to Dew Days activities and taking pictures. It almost doesn't seem fair that I get paid to go to a parade, you know?

There were other fun things, too, in my personal life. I made it to one of the games the Minnesota Twins actually won. I went to my niece's swim meets and saw her qualify for Team Minnesota for her first time. I reconnected with friends of mine from grade school, I had a blast with my father's extended family at a cousin's wedding. And this past Sunday, I learned my stomach no longer appreciates carnival rides the way it once had, much to my 10-year-old niece's chagrin. But we had a lot of fun at the fair, for sure.

I think I know where my summertime melancholy is coming from -- somehow this summer slipped by without me noticing. Maybe I had so much going on all the time, now I'm looking back and realizing I didn't take as much time to enjoy it as I should have. I was there, I was living it, but I was always thinking ahead to what else I had coming up, be it work or fun.

I'm glad I took the time to plant my little container garden this spring, because that's proven to be one of those calming of things in my life. Taking the time to go out and water, pick little weeds out. It's also become one of those things that helps me unwind in the evening, going outside. Sitting on a lawn chair, looking up at the stars, sipping a glass of wine and just letting my mind wander. A little time for just me.

But here it is, the middle of August. Back in July, I learned my sister and her family were moving back to Minnesota by September, after her being gone for about a decade. The target date for their arrival was Aug. 30, and I couldn't wait. Now that's just a few days away, and the anticipation of being able to be around my nieces more often is something I'm getting really excited about.

Every year, I look forward to the Minnesota State Fair. A former seasonal employee, I quit working there after 18 years in 2004. Apparently, I missed the feeling of being part of the Great Minnesota Get-Together, because I started volunteering at the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation's museum a couple years later. Now I'm scheduling my summer vacation time again ... so I can go to the fair for nine out of the 12 days.

And when the fair is over, there will be new things to think about -- spending time with my sister's family on a regular basis, starting my first term as president of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary and reconnecting with more old friends. I guess there's always something to look forward to, even if the weather turns cooler.