The Amazing Rosie and I have just completed our annual school shopping spree. As her grandmother, it is my privilege to buy the things her mother knows are not sensible. Or cost effective. Gap cargo pants she'll outgrow before the Visa bill arrives. Leather clogs she'll have to remember not to wear on gym day. Dry-clean-only sweaters.
We lunched at her favorite fancy restaurant, spent too much money and had too much fun. The next day's depression was not due to buyer's remorse. It was because the beginning of school signals the end of summer.
And summer, as any right-minded person knows, is the best time of the year. First of all, hot is better than cold. This is why people buy time-share condos in Florida and Arizona instead of Pennsylvania and Illinois. It's why we travel to the beaches of Aruba instead of Newfoundland.
You can have your fall foliage and snowflakes and spring flowers. I'll take summer any day. Bare feet. Adirondack chairs. Soft ice cream. Baseball. Convertibles. Lightning bugs. Shorts. Porches. Cold adult beverages in long-necked bottles. Root beer floats. Church socials. Politicians on hiatus. The aroma of newly mown grass. Sandals. Trashy beach novels. The way you feel when you get up for work and it's already light and it's still light when you come home at night.
The first official day of summer this year was June 21 when the Northern Hemisphere received its maximum amount of solar radiation for the entire year. This day should be renamed Suspicious Mole Day. The first real day of summer, as any kid and any kid's parent knows, is when the school year ends.
Likewise, the first day of autumn is when they drain the public pools and make you fill your backpack with markers and notebooks. Or whatever they're calling school supplies these days. They probably have something a lot more sophisticated than the white paste that was a staple when I climbed on the school bus wearing saddle shoes and a whiny, end-of-summer expression. (Glitter glue, Yu-Gi-Oh cards and makeup spring to mind.)
The official first day of autumn is toward the end of September - the 23rd this year - when day and night are supposedly 12 hours long. By then, of course the bloom is long since off the summer. Car pools are in place to ferry children to organized fun because the automatic fun of sleeping late and sitting under a tree with a book that is not required reading is over.
Summer was painfully short this year and the beginning was intolerably soggy. We deserve an extension. Instead, some local kids already have been in school for a week.
Much has been said and written - some of it by me - about why it makes sense to use our schools all year long. Three out of four mothers of school-age children work outside the home. Kids no longer have to hitch old Dobbin to the plow and help with the farming. At least, city kids don't. So, if they are no longer needed to bale hay, bounce around behind a manure spreader or pinch boll weevils, why aren't they hitched up to something like, say, an education.
Still, speaking as a former kid, I wish we'd have year-round summer instead.
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