End Of Summer Rituals

It has long been established that Memorial Day is the beginning of the summer and Labor Day is the end of it. In fact, people refuse to wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. I heard one lady tell that was one of her deadly sins because she did not adhere to that policy.

People are not nearly as rigid about that as they used to be. White can be found in the closet any time of the year. Especially with people traveling to warmer climes, the standards differ.

For most families summer ends when school begins. Schedules revolve around the school calendar. Lately it seems even that has changed. With all of the summer activities related to sports, summer ends when “camps” begin. Some camps were even scheduled during fair week. Youth who participate in 4-H were unable to attend those. After all, they worked from spring to the fair to be able to present an animal project for exhibition.

This year those lazy, hazy days of summer for students in New York and Pennsylvania end right after Labor Day. The stores count on the “back to school” shopping extravaganza. To date, I am not sure that any of my grandchildren have done any school shopping. The children are at the stage that they grow too fast to buy much ahead of time – especially the boys. One of them has a fall birthday so his wardrobe can be filled in about a month after school begins. My other grandson was wearing a shirt yesterday that I had given him earlier this year. Although it had long sleeves, they could be buttoned up to accommodate the milder fall temperatures.

Back in my day school shopping was not extensive. We bought just what we needed to be able to have enough clothes for the week. My closet was never filled to capacity. My wardrobe consisted of several pleated skirts and sweaters to match. Most of those skirts I wore all through high school. All I changed were the accessories. My bedroom did not even have a built in closet. I used a metal wardrobe for all of the years that I spent at home.

Part of the problem with storage today is that people have too many things. We are storing things that should be given away or thrown away. The rule of thumb is: if you have not worn or used something in the last year, throw it away. If we all adhered to that rule there would be less need for those room-sized closets that are so desired. I am not advocating filling the landfill with old clothes, I am urging people to recycle their wardrobe.

I really do try to go through my closet before each season begins weeding out what I think I do not need. I donate either to the Salvation Army or Goodwill on a regular basis. My fall trip to donate was made last week.

The days are getting noticeably shorter. Of course, the longest day of the year is now two months past. Even when I get up early, the sun is still not fully up. If I wait to eat my breakfast I am faced with sun in my eyes as I drink that cup of morning coffee. I love the morning hours. It seems like they hold so much anticipation of the day to come. As the day winds down I wind down as well.

When my husband had barn chores to do he put them off as long as he could. He was not a morning person so getting up and at it was a stretch for him. In the years when I was teaching school I was up before my farmer husband. I had all of the morning prep work done before he appeared. There were lunches to pack for the children and for myself. My daughter and I put things in containers the night before so we just had to haul things out and put them where they needed to be. This house was a finely tuned machine in those days of getting three of us out of the house with only one bathroom.

Often I started whatever we were going to have for supper as well. Many days after school there was second cut hay to take in. That meant I would be feeding a large group. I did not think I would like a slow cooker, but it was very handy. When I got home from school the kitchen smelled wonderful. All I had to do was put the finishing touches on our meal. That left me plenty of time to correct papers and make my preparations for the next day.

I, too, return to my fall schedule. Now two mornings a week I report to a volunteer station. Helping others has been a blessing to me. I know that you always get more in return than you give. Volunteering your time is a healthy thing to do. It keeps you vital and active. It forces you to get dressed and out of the house. It lets you interact with people. Since writing is such a solitary thing, I need this additional stimulation. It feels good to greet people and provide assistance. I look forward to my volunteer duties.

If you have children, your schedule is about to change. Embrace that change and make the most if it. Whether they like it or not school will soon be in session. In the grand scheme of things, the school years go by so quickly. They are just a stage of life that everyone goes through. Make memories that you will treasure.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.