Ablaze with streaks of orange, red and purple, the sun sets on another calm summer night. The fog simultaneoulsy rolls in threatening to devour the colors in the sky, it’s long cold grey arms slowly reaching around Mt. Tam crawling over the Marin County hills and valleys. Like the fog, I feel like my summer is being slowly consumed with every minute that the sun sets earlier each night. The days are getting shorter and so is my seemingly endless summer with my three year old, a summer of fun in the sun with my little buddy.

Being a teacher, I’ve had the summer to spend time with my daughter. We’ve had so many lazy summer days, adventures and experiences. I’ll miss our lazy mornings when she crawls out of bed with her disheveld bed-head hair and climbs into bed to cuddle me, my husband and our ten-year-old mini schnauzer, Zeu, he too enjoys the snuggles and pets as he basks in the dog days of summer. We take our time lying in bed, talking about what she dreamt about last night; dreams that almost always involve a unicorn and a dolphin among other animals. Having no strict schedule or alarms to adhere to, we slowly get out of bed and take our time with the checklist of morning readiness: brushing teeth, eating breakfast and getting dressed, a checklist that usually happens in a whirlwind of semi panic and stress during the hectic school year. Her outfit choice in the summer is not restricted to appropriate preschool attire and can involve a floor length dress, butterfly wings and a tiara.

As the sun’s rays begin to burn off the morning fog, we’ll go for a walk along the trail near our condo and pick wild blackberries, the juice warm and ripe after an already warm summer morning. After stuffing our faces with blackberries, we walk back home and she goes to her room to open a restaraunt serving me a wide assortment of fake plastic entrees, a restaraunt complete with a cash register where the price is usually 55 cents, her favorite number of late.

Once the sun is directly above us at high noon, its hot rays bake our air conditioner-less condo and we walk to the pool, her favorite destination, especially since she’s conquered her fear of jumping into the deep end. Having spent almost an hour splashing in the pool and performing daring jumps, we walk back home to take a bath. She undresses to reveal her first distinguishable tan lines etching a full bathing suit of soft white milky toddler skin complete with shoulder straps.

As afternoon approches and the sun slants it’s rays beginning it’s downward descent, Dad gets home and jumps into a game of hide-and-seek in which she assigns him the role of monster trying to seek out her hiding spots. All of her discreet hiding places trick the monster until she decides to reveal her covert brilliance.

Finally, as the day begins to wane and the evening begins to paint itself in the sky with shades of orange and pink, jammies are put on and books are read in bed. She gives a hug and kiss and says, “Goodnight.” I close her blinds and look out seeing the sun’s fading light. The rays of light are angled, tucking the Earth in for the night, just as I tuck in Nellie, her rainbow comforter tucked just below her chin. This seemingly endless summer is coming to an end. Although I am excited for a new school year and she is excited to see her friends at preschool, I will miss these long summer days. Despite this summer mourning, we need our seperate lives, days of independent experiences so we can come back and share stories together. As the fog rolls in and the brilliant sunset colors fade, I will keep this warmth of our summer with me. Nellie is my sunshine, my endless summer.

Previously published in the Marin Independent Journal.

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Allison Kegley had her daughter five years ago, and she felt like every moment went by so quickly that she wanted to always remember every event, every emotion. She’s been writing articles about parenting for the Marin Independent Journal over the last five years. She lives and works in San Rafael and teaches by day, writes by night, and somehow parents in-between.