How in the everlovin' world can it be August the day after tomorrow? August! (If you keep looking at that word for several seconds it begins to look as if it couldn't possible be spelled correctly. Ha! You begin to think: shouldn't there be a different vowel in there someplace? Written language is so silly.) Yes, the heat, and cooping myself up inside all afternoon, every afternoon, may be driving me over the edge. As the British would say: it has been bloody hot here. I should plan a trip for next summer, beginning the Monday after the 4th of July and continuing until after Labor Day.
Speaking of which: I do not like Labor Day. Actually, Labor Day has always been one of those holidays to which I paid no attention whatsoever.
During the 1990s there was a big push in music education to revisit the patriotic music of America. When I quizzed my students at that time, I discovered that they didn't know the words to any of them except the Star Spangled Banner. Sports is big here in the Sooner State. They had no idea what the Star Spangled Banner was about, but they knew the words and were sad to learn that the words 'Play Ball' were not part of the lyrics. By the time they moved up to Middle School they not only knew all the words to all the verses of the Star Spangled Banner, but could also tell you the entire story of the battle of Fort McHenry, in detail. So there's that. I was often queried about whether I was teaching music or history in my classroom. How can you teach music without the history with which it is surrounded? Please. (By the way, did you know that Fort McHenry is a star shaped fort? It is quite beautiful.) Okay, I wandered off topic.
Am I imagining things or did school begin after Labor Day at some point? Maybe that was me engaging in some powerfully wishful thinking….for my entire life. I realize, and can hear some of my readers thinking, most jobs are the same for the entire year: not so in the public schools. From the time I was four years old until I retired from teaching at age 58.5, my year always included summer vacation during June and July. That time was sometimes filled with farm work, cattle and wheat, field work, gardening, etc… or it sometimes included summer teaching jobs in town. What matters here is that it was something different and I had lots of time with my children during those two months. I thought then, and still do, it was wonderful and a blessing. I loved my job but always experienced a sickening drop of the stomach when August rolled around. August 1st meant it was time to head back to school and get the classroom and the lesson plans ready for the kiddos. I loved it once we were rolling, but change…you know all about change. One tends to hang back, content with the familiar. These days all the days roll along like a giant snowball, picking up things and speed as they go. There are lots of days when I don't even know what day of the week it is, nor do I care.
All this talk about school is not what I indeed to write about when I sat down to the keyboard. I was going to tell you about the shriveled leaves on the tomato plants, the locusts that rattle in the Cottonwoods all day and into the night, the heat that takes my breath away when I step out the door, the brilliance of the stars in the night sky.
One more month of days filled with the year's brightest light, heat, insects, green leaves everywhere and then we walk round the corner as Earth leans away from our sun and the light shifts..
"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." Benjamin Franklin