Ah…Labor Day Weekend. A celebration of the American worker. Cookouts, time with family and friends, college football and major league baseball on television, and sales galore. Maybe even a fun run or a parade! And as some would describe it, the traditional end of summer. And by “some” I mean non-Southerners. People who refer to the aforementioned cookouts as “barbeques.” Folks who come in to enroll their kids in school only to find we’ve been back at it almost a month. “School already started? We don’t start until after Labor Day!” I get it. You’re also in school until the Fourth of July, doofus.
Let me put it as simply as I can: September ain’t summer.
Summer ended when school started back. Maybe even when football and cheerleading practice began. In August. Zero Dark Thirty August. Like a week of August that still has some July in it. The end of summer? Labor Day is practically our fall break! Families are already looking for report cards to come out and are digging through the garage for the Halloween decorations on Labor Day. And let’s not even acknowledge the pumpkin in the room.
Nonetheless, our ever-faithful Farmer’s Almanac will disagree along with our agrarian ancestors. Our perpetual cycle of equinox and solstice puts those seasonal transitions at times that don’t exactly match up with our contemporary behavior. So, what do we do with our seasons in the present day?
Listen to any song you can think of with “summer” in the title. Got one? I can’t think of a single one that doesn’t improve my mood. Summer Breeze, The Boys of Summer, Summer of ’69, Cruel Summer, That Summer, Summertime (both Kenny Chesney and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince)…it goes on and on. If that’s the effect summer has on us, isn’t that more connected to our behavior than the celestial calendar?
There is however, one use of the word summer I can get behind. That is using summer AS A VERB. For example: “Remember Pat and Paige Boyd? They summer in Grayton Beach.” That’s my retirement goal, for summer to become a verb. As a career educator, summer has a connotation all its own. Schools out for summer, unless there’s summer school. Summer break. Summer vacation. I don’t want to have summer break or even take a summer vacation. I want to summer, period. No matter where it is. And feel like I feel when I’m listening to a favorite summer song.
Whether Labor Day is your end of summer or not, let’s resolve to look at our seasons a little differently going forward. Maybe not as benchmarks on our calendars, or first and last days, or even beginnings and ends. But as mindsets, or behaviors and attitudes that we choose intentionally. All summer long.