Many people see Labor Day as the end of summer. In many ways, it is the unofficial end of summer, even if there are a few weeks left until the official date. Kids usually go back to school either just before or just after Labor Day. Adults are usually finished with vacations by Labor Day, although if you’re like me, you save at least a few days for the day after Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Year. My son went back to school this year on the Wednesday before Labor Day, while last year he went back to school the Wednesday after Labor Day. Why the difference? Other than because the last day of school was June 26th last year due to snow days, who knows? Also, my daughter starts college this year and we moved her into her college dorm on Saturday, Labor Day weekend, with her classes starting the next Thursday.
With the kids back to school related issues and our non-summer schedule back, one thing I’ve noticed is how much earlier it is getting dark. Gone are the days when it was light past 8:30, the light lingering long enough that we didn’t need the indoor lights until it was almost time to go to bed – well, at least for me; the older I get the earlier I get tired. Now it is dark by 7:30 and we’re losing daylight minutes every day. It’s funny how the earlier sunset just kind of creeps up on you. Even though we’re losing daylight minutes every day from the Summer Solstice, we don’t really notice it. Then we get to the end of August/beginning of September and one day it hits us, it’s 7:30 and it’s almost dark! We act like it’s totally unexpected or it’s never happened to us before in our life, even though it’s an annual occurrence.
When I was a kid in elementary school and junior high, I hated seeing the “Back to School” advertisements, whether on television or in the paper. To me, it meant that summer, and all the fun that went with it, was over. No more long days of wiffle ball, baseball and the other games we played; no more swimming in the pool and eating lunch outside in the back yard; no more coming and going as we pleased and just hanging out in my front yard. It meant that it was time to go back to school and the associated long days of classrooms, homework and general boredom. When I got to high school I dreaded hearing the song “Night Moves” by Bob Seger, because of the line “With autumn closing in.” Those words told me that hanging out with my friends and the freedom from responsibility were gone. I guess I still kind of hate hearing that song in late summer because of the reminder that fewer hours of daylight are coming, fewer days of warmth are coming and less time with family is coming.
Still, it wasn’t all doom and gloom back then. I had one neighborhood friend who was away at camp for the month of August and he usually came home just before Labor Day weekend. I had another friend who was away at their summer home for the whole summer and he always came home after dinner on Labor Day. It was fun to hear all about their adventures while they were away, exaggerated or not, and tell them what had gone on while they were gone. Since we always went back to school on the Wednesday after Labor Day, we’d plot our Tuesday together so that we’d get as much fun packed into the day as was humanly possible. For one last day, autumn was held back as we laughed, played and basked in the glory of the late-summer sun. Those were good times.
So, the kids are back at school, it’s time to close the pool for the season and it’s time to break out a sweatshirt or two. Some leaves here and there are already starting to change color or fall from the trees, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler. The baseball season is winding down and the football season is starting up. Unofficially, summer is over and change is in the air. But we know that there will still be some beautiful, sunny days where we can be outside, doing whatever, without wilting in the hot, humid summer air. And for at least one more day, autumn will be held back and we’ll laugh, play and bask in the glory of the later-summer sun. Because officially, there’s still a few weeks of summer left.