The morning after closing day, the quiet wakes me up. Startled, I look at the clock. It is six and ten minutes. It is past my usual wake-up time. Then I remember that we closed the motel the day before and dig deep back under the covers. The regular hum of the cars on the road is still there, but aside from that, everything is completely still. No car doors are slamming, not that constant sensation that other people are around, and I can sense their breathing and hear them talking to each other. A feeling that intensifies as the summer draws to its end.
In the kitchen, the coffee machine is not gurgling, and none of my morning routines is waiting for me. I look out the window. I do that, waiting for the water to boil, every morning since we got here fifteen years ago. I watch the sun coming up and color the trees in hues of gold. This morning the forest that is usually dark green is blazing with reds and oranges though I notice more bare branches where the leaves have fallen. The yellow patches on the grass are more noticeable too. On the birdfeeder that I put a few years ago, the usual crowed, two Cardinals, several swallows, and from the tree above the siren-like call of the Blue-jay calling on his mate somewhere deep in the forest. I am going to miss them.
When I walk outside, the windows of the guests' rooms look at me with blind eyes. All the curtains are shut, and inside, I know, the beds are stripped and covered. Next May, at the beginning of the spring, we will return and wake this sleeping beauty up. Windows will be open wide, and voices will be heard again.
This quick change from a house full of guests to just us, my husband and I, is difficult to adjust to. For five months, we lived in a mode of constant alertness. The phone can ring at any moment. People walk into the lobby to check in or ask a question. Some are just bored and want to talk. They ring the bell, they peek into our living room, there is no real separation between 'home' and 'work,' and then within one night, they are all gone.
Every year, I go through this stage of mild melancholy, having to pack everything and move to our winter residence. For one last time I walk around the property and notice how pretty it looks. The wide green lawn (that I have to mow every week in the summer). The red leaves on the ground. The flowers I planted, those that I will abandon now and sentence to a slow death. Soon, the snow will come. I console myself and cover everything with a thick, soft layer of white.