Form those burger patties, boil and chop the spuds for Mom’s traditional potato salad with green olives, bake the beans, set out the buns and the condiments (don’t forget the pickles), chop up the cabbage for slaw, make the dressing, slice a few thin red onions for the burgers, and make sure there are plenty of fresh tomatoes because, not only are they mandatory for any picnic, there won’t be many more tomatoes to come off the vines this season. It’s the last holiday of summer.
Labor Day seems like a funny name for a day when almost nobody actually works. It’s that extra bonus holiday at the end of summer where the Humans all pretend that they don’t have to go to work or school the following day. It’s that one family gathering day. It’s a summer picnic sort of day, a fitting end to a season.
It’s still hot in Virginia on Labor day, but everyone fanaticizes about the cool down that will come soon enough. First the nights will develop a chill, just enough that everyone needs a sweater or light jacket in the morning. And then, the mornings become downright cold, and a few neighbors will light fires in their fireplaces. The scent of burning wood in the crisp, morning air, seems to promise what is still ahead – the autumn season, frost across the lawns, pumpkins and trick-or-treat, Thanksgiving turkey (and pie and leftovers), and suddenly everyone is anticipating December holidays and hitting the slopes. Wait, wasn’t it summer just yesterday?
By January, everyone is shivering in their wooly winter boots, smacking their gloved hands together to stir up some heat, and wishing for the warmth of summer. The best they can do is park their cars in a non-shaded area on a cold winter’s day, and be grateful for the little bit of heat that the day’s sun generated through the windshield. Hot cars never felt that good in August.
But that first warm, true summer-like day, when it finally comes, beckons to all, a day when workers ditch jobs and kids cut out of school early. Ah, to be outside again without eyelashes glued to their cheeks. The sun feels so good again.
Humans Beans are rarely pleased by the weather. In the summer, they long for cool temps, and in the winter they long for warmth. In the spring it rains, and the autumn it rains; both in-between seasons seem quite fleeting here in central Virginia.
So they rely on their summertime dreams of evenings spent around the fiery hearth holding steaming mugs of cocoa to warm their hands, and then, with cocoa in hand, they fantasize of beach sand and bathing suits and salty breezes in their faces.
So on this final summer vacation day, let’s simply enjoy the family that is with us, the picnic foods, and the opportunity to have gathered. Let’s not look back or ahead, but simply appreciate the now – even if it is still freaking 95+ degrees in the shade.
After all, summer never lasts. But then, few things do. Enjoy while you have them.