Farewell Summer

Summer is officially over…as of today.

When I was young, this made me sad. Summer, and all the activities we were involved in was one of the highlights of my youth. For a few years, I was in summer school. I know that may send shivers down some spines, but for me it was a few weeks when I could extend the classes that I really loved in school. I took art classes…fun stuff like pottery, and macramé. My siblings and I always took swimming lessons, and then spent every day at the pool.

When the first cool breezes hit Longmont, Colorado, (where I lived until I was thirteen), we knew it was time for school to begin once again. There was always a shopping trip to purchase new clothes and shoes for the school year. These clothes came with instructions from our mother of what day, under what circumstances, and what kind of weather those pieces of clothing were for…and we didn’t stray. You were not caught in school clothes if you were playing in the yard, and never on a weekend. Work clothes were not worn to school, and church clothes were for church, and only very special occasions. This list of instructions was the same for all children. When the cool weather changed to winter, you added a cardigan to your dress, and sometimes tights, or knee-high socks. I spent many mornings waiting for the school bus and wishing I had remembered my tights instead of the knee-highs. I would board the bus with red, chilled-to-the-bone knees.

After the first day of school, you had your school-supply list. That of course meant another trip to the store. I think I was in middle-school before a list was posted before school started. That second trip to the store was fun, and must have cost my parents a small fortune when all four of us were in school. But back then, those supplies were yours to use. A nifty little school box, (that we kept caterpillars in), stored our pencils, erasers, and little scissors. If you were really fortunate, you had your own pencil sharpener that didn’t eat up too much of your pencil, saving you the wait time of using the class crank one. Life was easy back then, and the little things meant a lot.

Memories make up so much of our lives, and I have many good ones. I started this post with the end of summer, and even as an adult, it makes me melancholy. The days are already becoming shorter, and the mornings have that autumn feel, even if the temperature rises into the nineties. Outdoor projects once again beckon me, but now they are a process of getting things ready for the winter. A winding down, preparation for the holiday season ahead.

One day, my goal is to spend a substantial amount of my year beside the ocean. Seaside is still my favorite place to be. A few trips to see my father’s side of the family in the San Diego area, made many good memories for me. Most notably the time we spent at the ocean. The beaches were a little more crowded than I liked, but the crashing waves, sand sifting beneath your feet, and that salt-water tinge in the air were always there. In my young-adult years, I was introduced to the Cape Cod surroundings, and I felt as though I had found my special place beside the ocean. It still beckons.

For me, summers always mean water, and that seaside experience. I don’t even want the palm trees and sand, but the sand dunes and beach roses. White picket fences trailing into oblivion, dune grass swaying in the ocean breeze. Even though I’ve lived in the middle portion of the United States for most of my life, this is my picture of summer.

And today, those pictures are replaced with the memories of trudging off to school in a plaid dress, wet leaves plastered on the sidewalks. That damp smell filling your head, as the heavy air lingers around the trees.

Good-bye summer…until next year.

Let the Classes Begin

Many places have started school again. When I was growing up in Colorado, our first day wasn’t until after Labor Day. I liked it that way. Labor Day always seemed like an end-of-the-summer kind of holiday. Once you had the prerequisite hot dogs and hamburgers with potato salad, the summer was officially over. Back in the olden days, wearing white was considered very bad and socially unacceptable after Labor Day. I don’t know what happened if you wore it…I just obeyed the rules and never tried. Thongs, or flip-flops as they are called now were also not allowed after this day.

I don’t recall when our last day of school was. It seems as though it must have been around Memorial Day, again, the official beginning of summer. Then, you could wear white, and thongs, and eat hot dogs and hamburgers to your heart’s content. They had no calories if consumed during the long, hot summer months, along with snow cones and ice cream. Oh! Those were the days!

When we moved to Vermont the winter I turned thirteen, I was appalled to find out that school went until June something! It was usually around the third week, give or take snow days, etc. But the sheer fact that it was June was very depressing to me. I would miss almost a month of what I deemed summer-time fun. As a side note, Burlington, Vermont still has huge piles of snow in their parking lots until mid-June. That alone rather ruined the concept of the summer I knew and loved! It’s difficult to dress in shorts, white shorts and thongs as you navigate your way around the Matterhorn!

Here in Kansas, school has begun for the year. Children make their way to school wearing shorts and sneakers, and even flip-flops. Tiny children waddled through the crosswalk, looking like so many turtles escaping to the sea. Their backpacks filled with supplies for the year ahead. I have pictures of our children looking like these baby turtles. And it makes me sad. I never liked the beginning of the school year, and the separation from our children.

My favorite memories of walking to school are from my years of living in Crown Point, New York. We lived only a few blocks from the beautiful school on Main Street. When autumn comes to the Adirondacks, it’s something to behold. Here is just a hint of the beginning of the spectacular color to come.lake-2294485_1920I’m very happy that our two oldest children had the privilege to attend The Word of Life Bible Institute in Schroon Lake, New York. They were able to see the amazing colors of autumn, and all the seasons so pronounced in this region.

For me, living in that area of the United States had a Norman Rockwell ambiance. Around every turn, there were beautiful vistas to behold. Tiny villages nestled in the green valleys, with emerald mountains flowing to the blue skies. Even winter didn’t seem quite so desolate with the blanketing of snow. Christmas was just that more festive with the centuries-old buildings, winding roads and tall trees canopying the road. It was as if everyone snuggled down for their long winter’s nap, just as the story says.

Autumn for me will always be in the northeast. That is what I think of, those are the colors I dream of when the days grow shorter and cool. Memories of walking down sidewalks strewn with colorful leaves, more drifting through the damp fog on an early morning walk to school. There is a certain smell of decaying things, that is strangely homey, bringing to mind crisp air and snapping fires. early-morning-299735_1920

Another school year is upon us. Autumn has begun it’s delicate flow into the countryside of almost any place in the United States. Even here in Kansas. The days are growing shorter, the nights more cool, and some evenings smell of decaying things. And not in an unpleasant way. Have a wonderful Tuesday!