Where Did the Summer Go?

When I was a child in Tennessee, summer started by Memorial Day and ended around the third week of August when we went back to school.  My elementary school was not air conditioned, and we sweltered in class until at least the middle of September.  In those badPlaid_1950s_Shirtwaist_dress old days girls were not allowed to wear pants or shorts to school.  Some clever retailer invented “dark cotton” dresses, knee-length dresses in plaids and fall colors but made of lightweight cotton so you didn’t faint in the heat.  Those dresses did duty until well into October with a light sweater if needed.  Often it wasn’t, and even Halloween was still warm weather.  Patent leather shoes and white anklets completed a girl’s school wardrobe, which we went shopping for in the dog days of August.

Summer here doesn’t seem to end until mid-September.  The kids are back to school after Labor Day, but the outdoor grill at the boat club on the Hudson hangs on for a few more weekends, weather permitting.  Yet all the free outdoor concerts and Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival are done by Labor Day weekend.  And I can see the days getting shorter as we move toward the autumnal equinox.

Where did the summer go?  Mine seems shorter than usual to me because I started a new job and did not take a vacation.  That said, I did do some of my favorite summer things:  went to the Jazz Forum Arts concerts at Lyndhurst a few times (two more opportunities, weather permitting); had picnics at those concerts with friends, and a lavish French-style picnic with a group of gourmet friends; went to Hudson Valley Shakespeare twice; and saw Justin Peck’s Dance Americana at Kykuit, a truly magical evening.  I also saw a dance performance at the Lincoln Center Festival with a new friend from the new job.  And there were a few dinners and get-togethers with friends, as well as time to collapse on the couch and read a good book (ok, not much time for that!)

I’m going to meet up with my sisters on Labor Day weekend, so the summer will end with a family note.  I’m determined to enjoy these last few weeks, especially when the heat wave breaks.  I hope you are all enjoying the summer and will have a smooth transition into the fall.



More Than Flags and Fireworks

Photo by Josh Wickerham
The little town where I live has a Memorial Day parade every year at 9 o’clock in the morning.  When I first moved here, I would roll out of bed, get dressed and walk up the street to watch.  It was a very small parade, with just a few aging veterans riding in convertibles and almost no one marching.  And the crowd watching was thin, not enough to line the sidewalks.  In the last few years the parades have included marching Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, so at least the parents help bolster the crowd.

For most of us Memorial Day weekend has become the beginning of the summer season.  Any links to World War II or more recent wars seem increasingly tenuous, or degenerate into flag-waving and pompous speeches.

So today I’d like to shift the emphasis back to people–people who gave their lives in military service, primarily, since this is Memorial Day.  But also people who served in wars and came home safely or forever marked by their experience, people who served when there wasn’t a war, people who stayed behind and worked and worried, people who spoke up when they thought something was wrong.  People who mattered then, and matter now.

And I’m making a shout-out to veterans in my family.  One of my brothers-in-law served in the Navy during the Korean war.  Another was a career Army officer and did two tours of Vietnam.  My brother was in the Air Force during the Vietnam era and did not see combat.  They came home safely, and I am glad. There are many things on which we don’t agree, but we agree that we love our country and we love our family.  Happy Memorial Day.

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