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King Solomon wrote wisely, and later was wisely paraphrased by the folk band “The Byrds”, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven...” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,8). Seasons often represent the periods of a person’s life; birth, youth, age and death. In the short story “Summer” by David Updike, the lake provides an eternal and unchanging witness to Homer’s transition from season to season and from boy to man.
In the beginning we find the family and its surrogate son, Homer, enjoying the fruits of the summer. Homer wakes to find Mrs. Thyme sitting alone, “looking out across the flat blue stillness of the lake”(48). This gives us a sense of the calm, eternal feeling the lake presents and of Mrs. Thyme’s appreciation of it. Later, Fred and Homer wildly drive the motor boat around the lake, exerting their boyish enthusiasm. The lake is unaffected by the raucous fun and Homer is pleased to return to shore and his thoughts of Sandra. Our protagonist observes the object of his affection, as she interacts with the lake, lazily resting in the sun. The lake provides the constant, that which has always been and will always be. As in summers past, the preacher gives his annual sermon about the end of summer and a prayer that they shall all meet again. Afterward, Homer and Fred take a final turn around the lake only to see a girl who reminds Homer of Sandra. “And there was something in the way that she raised her arm which, when added to the distant impression of her fullness, beauty, youth, filled him with longing as their boat moved inexorably past…and she disappeared behind a crop of trees.
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The season changes, people come and go but the lake remains as it always has been. In the end, the lake becomes the silent observer to the cycle that continues to recur and endure, summer romance and the maturation of the boy to manhood.