I was saddened these past few days to realize how much he dreaded the end of summer and the start of school. “A whole year of school? Again?” he repeated glumly each day. But last night I admitted to myself that I too was dreading it.
It’s been a delightful summer. I took more time off than I ever have since starting my career over 10 years ago. We are finally in a home of our own, and this year we are more familiar with this new city and have loads of friends; so many that we didn’t even see some of them at all this summer because we didn’t have enough time. Living by the beach afforded us a lot of long stretches of swimming in the lake and playing in the sand, but also many quick runs down there when we just had half an hour to be idle together. We discovered numerous beautiful parks, a great public pool, and even an amazing nature center that allowed us to forget we were in the big city for a couple hours as we watched deer munching on leaves mere feet from us. In short, it was heavenly. Who would want it all to end?
Labor Day has come and gone. We were happily distracted all weekend by various guests in and out of our house, giving the weekend the feel of one long end-of-the-summer house party with a revolving door. Dancing to 80s tunes with the kids and our college friends, eating burgers, dinner on our deck, putting fresh basil from the Farmer’s Market on everything I could get my hands on. Corn on the cob. Late nights and gin and tonics. But by this morning, as we made Baxter’s lunch and got him ready for school, I couldn’t help but feel that summer was about to go sneaking out that revolving door right along with our friends as they left to go home to Seattle this afternoon.
And yet Baxter came bursting through the door after school: “Mommy! Are the lifeguards gone?? Can we take our floaties to the beach?!” Sure enough, the lifeguards here pack up their orange vests and rowboats – even dismantle their tall white chairs – on Labor Day and call it a year, at which point the real beach fun can begin! Having been apprised of this phenomenon last week by a friend, the boys and I picked up a few excellent clearance-rack floaties at Target right away, so we were prepared today. We raced to the beach and I blew up these fabulous toys, heretofore not allowed.
“This is the best beach day of the whole year!!” hollered Baxter as he raced into the water. The boys floated on a large plastic crab-shaped raft and a “lifeguard boat” raft, and we soaked up the warm sun for a couple of hours. Our friends arrived and the five of us frolicked on the sand bar (“The second sand bar,” Baxter would be sure to correct me), playing all sorts of loud and hilarious games.
The sun started to drop down over the end of our street, light filtering through the trees and leaving that golden glint that I love the most on the children’s wet hair and sandy legs, and I felt grateful for this reminder that summer fun doesn’t entirely end just because school has begun. And furthermore, when the days arrive that are too chilly to drag our floaties and towels down to the beach after school, thrilled that the lifeguards are no longer here making the rules, there will be other fun. A different kind of fun, but fun just the same. And if we are somehow unable to appreciate fall, winter, and spring fun quite as much as we appreciated summer fun this year, well then, more’s the pity but it’ll be back again next year.