Jim Amidon — When I was a kid, we would officially celebrate the end of summer on Labor Day. Public pools were open one more day, school would start on Tuesday, and Jerry Lewis was on TV for like 24 straight hours. And on that one Monday, the burgers coming off the grill never, ever tasted so good.
Having worked in higher education at Wabash College for 20 years, I now realize that summer pretty much ends about August 1. That’s when faculty members who have been away traveling or researching begin to file back to campus.
And it’s this week that we’ll put the finishing touches on all of our summer projects — from publications to web upgrades to promotional work.
I feel like I’ve lost a month and have no idea where it went.
In fact, last week — County Fair week — two different people stopped me on campus and asked, “So, how was your summer?”
“It is going well,” I said in both cases, hoping that by keeping summer in the present tense that, perhaps, I might squeeze a little more out of the calmer months at Wabash.
And sure, we’ve got one last weekend — coming up — before Wabash hosts the first of about 30 weekends of activities over the next nine months. But there really is just one more weekend before things crank up at the corner of Wabash and Grant.
Hmm. How should I spend my last official weekend of summer?
I could paint the bathroom, which I’ve promised to do for almost three years. Ladders, drop cloths, and paint drips in the bathtub and sink don’t exactly say “summertime fun” to me.
We scraped the paint off half of our front porch in late April, so I suppose I could scrape the other half and maybe, just maybe, I’d actually get it painted before the first frost. At least the porch is outside.
I swore last January that I would dig out my office before the end of the semester (May) then said the same thing before my vacation at the end of June. The boxes and papers and CDs and DVDs and photographs are still piled everywhere. It needs to be cleaned up, but not on the last weekend of summer.
I promised my colleague Howard that I’d bring over my chainsaw to clear out nagging stumps and hanging branches. Summer work, yes. Summer fun, no. (Maybe some night after work when the temps are cooler, Howard.)
In truth, I’ll probably spend this weekend in the yard, cleaning out dead blossoms from the gardens, and maybe even grab a few hours of lake time. A walk through Pine Hills early Saturday morning would do me some good. Brunch at the Turkey Run Inn sounds fun, too.
I’ll save the bathroom, front porch, and Howard’s back yard for another time. Summer is fleeting, and I need one more weekend — 48 hours — to charge the batteries for the coming year.
But I do wonder what ever happened to the “old time” school calendar. It made sense to me to start school the Tuesday after Labor Day and go to about Memorial Day, maybe early June.
I’m not naive, though. I know the state mandates a certain number of class days for public schools, which when coupled with professional development, parent-teacher conferences, and normal holidays suggests the calendar has been expanded; summer has been squeezed to about eight weeks, 10 in a good year.
All of this ranting is probably just my way of coming to terms with my age. When we were kids — and had more energy than the sun — summer seemed to last forever. When we’re adults —†and really need a break from the grind — eight-week summers and two weeks of vacation just don’t cut it.
So for at least this one weekend — this weekend — I’m focusing on how I’ll spend my time, not how much time I have.