Summer Is Over (And I Think I’m Ready)

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Here we are, Labor Day weekend already.  That thought occurred to me mid-week.  And I wondered what it actually means to me.  I think the only answer is that Summer is over.  And I’m OK with that.

Before my time Labor Day was a celebration of the American worker.  Perhaps this went on in other areas, but growing up in a “white collar” family and neighborhood, Labor Day was just another holiday.

In my youth Labor Day meant the start of school.  I never liked school all that well so the Labor Day weekend always cast a pall over my life, a looming sense of dread of what was coming on Tuesday.  For Tuesday would be the day for me to turn myself in and submit to yet another year of classroom drudgery wherein another matronly old woman would take practical control of my life.  For whatever reason there were no attractive, fun young teachers in 1960’s Fort Wayne, only battle-scarred veterans of the classroom who had likely covered FDR’s New Deal in current events.

I am not sure what happened in the intervening years but most kids start school a good three (if not four) weeks before Labor Day.  For them, August is no longer part of summer, which is something hard for me to fathom.  Also hard to fathom is that the dread of summer coming to a close takes hold of today’s kids in mid July.  It just doesn’t seem right.  Isn’t that what Labor Day is supposed to be for?

August used to be “the dog days of summer”, the time when it got hot and stayed that way, and we kids were shooed out of our houses and encouraged to find our own fun in our neighborhoods of brown grass and hot asphalt.  The organized activities like Wildcat baseball were over and we were on our own.  Thank goodness for our bikes and those mothers who would set cold drinks out for us from time to time.

As I got into my adolescence in the early 1970’s, Labor Day weekend came to mean the great Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, Indiana, about thirty miles north of my home in Fort Wayne.  Auburn was the headquarters of the company that went bust during the Depression after building some of the most elegant and sought-after cars of their era.  Auburn sort of set the template for so many old car events that have been created since.

Today I live much farther away and don’t have the free time that I once did.  Which sounds funny coming from an “empty-nester”.  Let’s just say that I would rather spend the day with my Mrs. in some activity that we would both enjoy.  And besides, I live in a world where fascinating old cars are available at the click of a mouse whenever I am in a mood to look at them.  Yes, I enjoy going back every few years but it is no longer the “must-see” that it once was for me.

Today I look forward to the start of autumn, which has become my favorite season of the year.  I don’t relish the heat and humidity that we end our summers with here in the midwest.  I find the cooler, crisp air rejuvenating and am not fighting “vacation brain” when I go to the office every day.

Perhaps this is a carryover from the lazy summers of my youth but I have difficulty being focused and productive this time of year.  In my mind, summer is a time for reading books, watching TV and eating fresh corn on the cob.  Yes, I realize that we all live in climate-controlled comfort all summer but the mentality associated with June, July and August are awfully hard to break.

The “vacation brain” brings bad habits like getting in to work a little late in the mornings and leaving a little early in the afternoons.  This is the blessing and the curse of self-employment.  I have control of my hours, but when I work fewer of them there is just more to do when I am there (and less money to spend when I am not).

Vacation Brain also makes it almost impossible to keep from pulling into every Dairy Queen I drive past.  I know that DQ will not make anyone’s list of great ice cream (least of all mine) but it is just so . . . summer.  So it is a good thing that the start of fall brings some fresh discipline.

Our calendar presents many opportunities for a “fresh start”.  January first is the granddaddy of those days and the beginning of spring is another.  But the Tuesday after Labor Day is another big one for me.  Tuesday will not bring a change of season, a change of our clocks or any other change that will be formally enforced by any authority in my life.  It will, however, bring as much change for me as any of those more official events, perhaps more of one.

So in my book, we have reached the end of Summer and the unofficial beginning of Fall.  And I am ready.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Summer Is Over (And I Think I’m Ready)

  1. As one who always had to endure the start of school in mid-August, Labor Day while growing up boiled down to a one-day reprieve from the inane things at school. It’s now evolved into a nice way to relax and enjoy the last official summertime activities, while being overshadowed with the prospect of winter being in the near future.

    Detesting winter, Labor Day is a mixed bag

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  2. Mixed feelings here. It’s been a crappy summer in some ways, Mrs DougD actually caught pneumonia and has been off work or operating at reduced capacity for about 5 weeks. Seeing what a job it does on a middle aged person, no wonder it kills old folks.

    My son is probably not looking forward to this weekend, he has been a camp councilor at Ontario Pioneer Camp all summer. He was so keen to get up there I took him the very day he wrote his last exam in July.
    http://pioneercamp.ca/
    On the other hand, I’ll be happy to have my son back even if he does eat all the cookies and ice cream in the house. 🙂

    Fall remains my favorite season, I love crisp weather and leaves on the ground, somehow fall gives me a sense of accomplishment.

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    • Wow, glad to hear that Mrs. DougD is winning that fight against pneumonia. That is some nasty stuff.

      Accomplishment is a good word for fall. Some of us must have some innate need to have our sheaves gathered and our barns filled in time for winter.

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  3. Good read. The dread that comes with the thought of summer ending and school starting back up always started for me around the fourth of July. After that holiday, I’d start having to grapple with the realization that school was to be starting in 5 or 6 weeks. And I think once I got to high school, it was closer to a month when orientation and book pickups were factored in. Summer keeps getting shorter and shorter. It was nice though once I got to college and we actually did get about 3 1/2 months of it even if I was working at that point, although even then it never lasted to labor day. For me, labor day is mostly just an opportunity to sleep in, although with homework and other responsibilities, it has never really been a day where I didn’t have to do some amount of work.

    I admit I’m always interested when people your generation and older talk about being shoed outside in the summer to spend all day out in the neighborhood. My experience in the suburb I grew up was that, not being in walking distance to a park or pool, and not really knowing other kids in my neighborhood that well, I could get about an hour or two of fun outside a day playing basketball or riding my bike in a loop around my neighborhood before getting tired and going back inside; although once I got to fifth or sixth grade I was fortunate enough to be allowed to ride to and from your guys place to hang with your son, which did provide an afternoon’s worth of fun. Outside of that, though, fun activities mostly had to be facilitated by someone driving us somewhere, which given the situation with my family at the time was sometimes challenging.

    I’m not sure what qualifies as Summer anymore exactly, but what ever season May falls in (maybe it’s still Spring at that point) is my favorite. When everything is getting warm and the plants are in bloom but temperatures haven’t hit peak heat yet, that’s the right season for me. For me, fall is good for about two weeks in October when the leaves have changed but haven’t fallen and the temperature hasn’t decreased too dramatically. After that though, it’s sort of down hill through Winter (after my time in Michigan, if I never see snow for the rest of my life, I won’t feel like I missed out) until we get to Spring.

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    • Yes, the differences we baby boomers experienced as kids compared with you Millenials is big. For those of us in neighborhoods there were always several kids around and we had a wide area of access on bikes. But these days there are few kids in older neighborhoods and you run the risk of charges if you don’t know where your kids are at all times.

      Living where you do now, I suspect you have not seen the last of snow.

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