In the United States the official end of summer, no matter what the calendar might say, is Labor Day (the first Monday in September).
The school year had originally been based on an agrarian society. School began after the harvest and let out in time for spring planting. Back in the old days when family farms were in an abundance and corporate farms barely existed, the farmer needed his children home to help with the family business and subsistence plots. (You don't plant, you don't eat.) Now most schools are in session before Labor Day and end well into June. Gone is the day of scheduling education around the needs of the home or the farmer.
However, based on ancient times and astronomical aspects the true end of Summer doesn't occur until the Autumnal Equinox. (Which this year is on September 22.)
As summer of 2013 winds down I am reminded of summers past.
There was a year I rented a cottage on the Cape and a friend and her kids were supposed to have a neighboring cottage, only she backed out at the last minute. (She had a new boyfriend and was afraid to leave him alone for a few days.) I had the cottage for the last week of August and we had so much fun and the woman who owned the place enjoyed my kids so much she invited us to stay longer. (Free because it wasn't rented.) We couldn't because the kids had to get back to school, but her generous offer reminded me that there are a lot of really nice people out there, even when your so-called friends let you down.
There were trips to Edaville Railroad in Carver and visits to the Stoneham and Southwick Zoos. Many beach days at Nantasket Beach, Salisbury, and Horse Neck. Trips to State Parks and Lakes, Whale Watching, movies in order to enjoy the AC. And lots of family togetherness.
When I was young I had a lot of freedom. My mother worked and had eleven other kids, and my Grandmother also worked and took care of the other kids. My little friends and I, and we were little, not even teens yet, made our own fun. (I shudder to think of my kids doing half the things I did without supervision.)
The height of summer fun was taking the T to Revere Beach with a couple of friends, riding the rides, playing the games. (You haven't lived until you are taking the T home with your beach bag (which is almost as big as you are, and a boxed set of electric hurricane lamps that you won for your grandmother. They were beautiful with smoked glass bodies and chimneys with painted pink flowers on them.)
We had to walk to the public pool in the sweltering weather and got burned to a crisp while trying to avoid the hot concrete around the pool.
We also enjoyed the carnival the local mafia don held every year for the church to try to gain absolution for his sins.
We rode our bikes for miles. Our favorite bike ride was to the Junior High School because it was the best place to sit under trees on good grass while we picnicked with friends and talked about the library books we had just read.
There was also the summer when we all thought we were living in a Nancy Drew novel and we rode our bikes up and down the streets until we found a house that looked spooky enough to be haunted or housed a murder that only we could get the "goods" on.
There were also the days when it was so hot all you could do was close the shades, turn on the fan, and stay in front of it with a good book and a loaf of Pepperidge Farm bread. And an icy cold Cokes.
Although I moan and groan about the heat and humidity, I love summertime and I hate to see the kids lose so much of it.
We take them directly from school and put them into camp. Their time is so regulated it is as if they have no free time. When are these kids going to find time to monitor a haunted house, or carry home a box of lamps on the T?
How often do they play Fish or War with their friends on the front porch, or sit under a neighbors grape arbor and play Sorry or Monopoly? Whatever happened to kickball games in the street and games of tag. I remember when we played Hide and Seek an older kid had to help the younger ones with the count and every yard on both sides of the street was loaded with great places to hide in. (And every yard was fair game, except for a few with crotchety people living in the house.)
I look back fondly and think of walking to the corner store to grab a cold Coke and listen to "See You in September" on the jukebox whenever I had to get the paper for my Grandmother.
Back in those days we made memories.
Let the children make memories now.
See you in September!