When we were young, we did not need an internal clock or a calendar to signal the end of summer. We had our own arboreal marker that measured the seasons.

Early summer meant freedom, endless days and doing all of our whatevers. In the backyard, a lone green shrub stood and urged us to Just Pass Go and crash through the Red Rover line. When we glanced at it, we knew possibilities beckoned. Sleepovers, swimming, the ice cream truck chase, maybe miniature golf.

Every summer though, buds started to pill the canvas of the bushy tree: an early harbinger of change. A first glimpse of white evoked, every time, a knowing sense of oh-no-dread. Never prepared for it, we tried to will the green and summer to stay. We did not know then that wishes often lose to time.

And when the first blossom emerged in a blink’s time, our thoughts, as if in sync, began to look ahead. The welcoming sun, the glimmering water, the rambling plans all paled. These dwindling days called for organizing, getting ready, shopping and being focused.

We always called it the Fall Bush. Its beauty entangled with ambivalence.

Even now.