Friday, September 4, 2015

Re-thinking Summer

Still a favorite place and a favorite time of the year
A Labor Day Weekend question:  What does "Summer" mean to you?

Once upon a time, I thought of Summer as the ultimate, a three month recess from the responsibilities of life. Sure, responsibilities = school back then, but when school was out, play time was in!  Tennis, baseball, bicycling, beaches and swimming pools, a veritable smorgasbord of fun starting Memorial Day weekend and ending Labor Day Monday.  Even my hometown beach, Indiana Dunes State Park, is on that schedule:  lifeguards start 11am Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and finish for the season 6pm Labor Day Monday.  Back to School Tuesday.

That routine was further reinforced because my Mom was a teacher, so the whole house had the Summer off.

As a grown-up, that routine hasn't left me.  Even though my career doesn't give me three months off like school did, I've always had special fondness for what June, July, and August represent.

As homeschooling parents, we built our calendar around that model.  Even our church.  Sunday School and youth commitments followed a typical school year calendar.

The end of an era
That paradigm is a discarded relic of yesteryear.  That hard truth has been rocking my world.

My first loss of Summer innocence was one junior high school year sometime in the early 1980s.  Portage Township Schools (Indiana) had the audacity to start the school year on August 27.  For the first time, school started before Labor Day.  Summer vacation would never end on time again.

Today, with balanced schedules, band camps, work, and other schedule creep items, the Summer State of Mind is gone.  Even state park swimming pools reduce their hours in August because they cannot get enough life guards.

All is not lost, though
Rather than give in to despair, time to turn this problem into an opportunity.  It is hard work, but I'm taking the attitude of what I'm calling  "outdoor season." Better yet, "Outdoor Season" (the capitalization representing its importance).  My new season starts on or about April 16 and continues through the end of October.  April 16 because I'm involved in income tax accounting.  The filing deadline for individuals' returns is April 15.  Warmer weather is coming, baseball season is underway, and mandatory overtime is over!  The Season ends in October once our wedding anniversary, Darling Bride's birthday, and Youngest Son's birthday come and go that month.  Colder weather is more the norm, baseball playoffs are wrapping up, and Daylight Savings Time is coming.  That means soon it will be dark around dinner time.

It is true that Outdoor Season does not mean a 6 month recess.  Work, school, and other commitments are always there.  Instead, play time co-exists peacefully with responsibilities.  Come to think of it, responsibilities are good gifts from God too.

Mid September through most of October is turning into one of my favorite times of the year.   With cooler weather, schools having Fall Break (during Darling Bride's birthday, no less!), I've been taking time off from work and enjoying fun fall stuff.  Even my favorite bicycle tours take place in September and October.  Indiana campgrounds have lots of special activities in the fall.  Rather than lamenting the end of Summer this Labor Day Weekend, I'm celebrating!

Action Point
What does summer mean to you?  Has the significance of that season been lost?  What can you do about it?

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