I know summer is coming to an end when we pick up the girls from camp. They’re sad, eat the salami-and-cheese sandwiches I pack for them with a faraway look in their eyes. They’re tired, too, plain ol’ worn out. It’s as if today, this day that we pick them up from camp, all the weight of summer presses on them. Hot and sweaty, thunderheads building. There’s a heaviness about it for all of us.
I remember summer lasted forever when I was a kid. Seems like we never started school until after Labor Day, and here we are, not even halfway into August and the closet holds two bags full of school supplies. I remember Mom making at least a sort of fuss over back-to-school. I remember my school supplies stacked up next to my bed in a tidy pile where for days I could admire the candy-apple red pencil, an oversized one that barely fit your fingers, and a Big Chief tablet.
Mom bought us a few new dresses (or sewed them), a new pair of shoes, and those thin socks that folded at the ankle to show off girly lace. We didn’t get a lot, not even enough for a new outfit each day that first week back, but that was OK. By the second week we were back to all our old clothes anyway.
I went to the mall last Sunday afternoon after dropping off the girls at camp. I wanted to get Dee some black jeans with skinny legs, she’s been asking for them for weeks plus it was tax-free weekend, which seems to function as Pavlov’s bell, we all go out like Night-of-the-Living-Dead zombies to the stores even though the 7% savings barely makes it worth the trouble. But still. I went and ran into the mother of another camper. We laughed and said something like, It’s just plain easier to shop for our kids when we’re without ’em.
We don’t have the exact same rituals to end summer that I had as a kid, but we have some of them. Mine were the school supplies and the few new clothes, plus a sudden interest in cleanliness. Bathing and curling my hair, a new pajama gown, and going to bed when it was still light. Mom and Dad were rigid about school nights. It didn’t matter what Nature had to say; it was time to turn off the sun and get to bed.
I told Em that I wanted to show her how I organized and cleaned her room while she was gone, and when I suggested that we go take a little tour of the drawers and closet, she broke out crying, “Mom, I just want to sit down!” She’s been away two weeks, being back home must be both a relief and a major letdown. Thank goodness she doesn’t start school until Tuesday.
It’s been a humid summer. Jim was saying as we drove back from the mountains that he hasn’t seen clouds like these, so many and for so many days, since he was a kid. These are the summer days from our youth, thick air, a hot that makes you sweat inside even, swamp coolers don’t work well in humidity. But a coolness this morning. I’ve been using the quilt in addition to the sheet, and even when I went to Trader Joe’s this morning at nine, I wore a sweater.
It’s a transitional time, I said to someone recently that it felt like running into a glass door. I didn’t see it coming even though I knew it was out there somewhere, this end of lazy days, quiet mornings and staying up as late as you want.
I just had a strange thought. Once our kids are grown, will it seem like the fading of summer into fall is like any other change of season?
-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC – SUMMER