End of the Season

Jessie: On the coast of Maine feeling the school year bearing down upon my family in a most unwelcome way.

kite-1159538_1920I am not sure exactly when it happened but a few years after my eldest started school there was a change to the academic calendar that decreed school would begin before Labor Day. I know that some families welcomed the change as it made navigating lives with childcare challenges and clashing personalities far easier. For me it was a discouraging turn of events.

By the time my kids have made up all the inevitable snow days every June it seems as though it is almost the Fourth of July by the time it feels like summer is well and truly underway. With the next year starting in the middle of the last week of August I always feel like the time goes by too fast.sparkler-839831_1920

As I consider the few remaining days we have at the seaside this year I have come up with a list of simple summer pleasures we have yet to enjoy this season. In no particular order they are:

  • Taking a blanket, a book of matches, a box of sparklers and a gaggle of children to the beach after dark for a squealing, whirling romp across the sand twirling a glittering wand of light in each hand.
  • Pulling out the bocce set and heading to the beach at low tide for a spirited game. It is best played with a flexible sense of the rules and creative integration of the myriad of sandcastles, tide pools and seagulls sharing the stretch of shoreline.
  • Plucking fistfuls of basil, thyme and my favorite, rosemary, from the pots in the yard and making up batches of herbed salts to preserve the flavors of the growing season. Several years ago I bought a wooden board with a dimple in it and a corresponding demi-lune, two-handled knife to mince up the herbs into a pile of sea salt. There is nothing like the scent and the flavor of the salts to bring back the sense of summer even in the depths of a New England winter.
  • Grabbing a kite from the mudroom and heading for the beach, once again at low tide. Even on a day too cool to swim a kite provides great fun at the beach. I never have had good luck with the flat ones but after heeding the advice of a local toy merchant my kids and I have all found success with the box variety. An added bonus is that they fold up into a small drawstring bag and tuck into a pocket or tote for the journey to and fro.
  • Spending the entire day given over to the pleasure of reading, especially stretched out on a porch in the path of a sweet and refreshing breeze. Bonus points if the book is a mystery novel by a beloved author that somehow you have missed.

Readers, do you have a few things you’d like to do before the end of the summer arrives? Do you enjoy any of the activities on my list?


32 Thoughts

  1. Those all sound perfect! I need to get to the beach at the end of the day soon for a walk, a cold dinner, and an adult beverage. Eat more corn on the cob. Get a good old-fashioned ice cream cone. Make more pesto for winter soups and pastas. And read!

  2. They all sound fun. Living alone on a limited budget means doing any of them would take away from my reading time.

  3. Honestly, I can’t say I will miss summer. It is way too hot here to do anything outside until autumn. Your activities all sound wonderful though. And it definitely does seem like school is starting earlier in the year nowadays. School always started at the end of August here, but this year they started mid-August. I don’t know if that means the year will end earlier too, but for the kids’ sakes I hope so!

  4. I have fond memories of living at the swim club when my children were young or bringing them home from nature camp so muddied, I’d set up a wading pool in the driveway and hose them down before they could enter the house to have a shower! After swim team and camp were over, the last weeks of summer became so relaxed. Now that I have a big gaping hole where my deck used to be (remodeling), I only have my hammock for late afternoon relaxing. Fall, and the new deck, can’t come soon enough for me.

  5. I grew up with my Dad always taking the last two weeks before Labor Day off for vacation, and we went to the Poconos. It was always relaxing, and exciting to do back to school shopping there. Now, of course, all the kids have to be back before Labor Day for school, so it’s just my husband and me enjoying the peace and quiet.

  6. I read kite as knife and was so puzzled as to what you were doing and why no one else on the beach was objecting. It all sounds wonderful and I’m intrigued by your salts, Jessie!

    1. I suppose that if I would allow children to cavort with flames along the beach there is no reason you should not suspect me of runnign about with knives as well! Try the salts!

  7. I would like 2 get 2gether with my friends & have a grilling in the park 4 the last of the summer

  8. What a beautiful post, Jessie! It brought back memories for me because I grew up in a coastal town. I live in inland NH now, and so wish we could be closer to the beach. I am going to try those salts!!

  9. Love the idea of a day n the porch, given over to reading! But, honestly, I love fall. Now that I don’t have a teaching gig, I like to schedule a fall trip, this year to the beautiful coast of Maine.

  10. Your summer end plans sound perfect. The last few years we’ve had an August vacation in a rented house with the whole family including 3 grandkids ages 5 and under. We have just returned from Wicked country – Cape Cod! Not much writing done (none) but some reading.With an unintentional theme, I included 2 MA-set books – Edith’s Turning the Tide (excellent, as expected!) and Stacy Schiff’s history of the Salem witches. (Excellent too, and long – I will be working on it for many weeks) Otherwise, this summer can’t end soon enough. Horrid unbearable weather and construction in both my house and the schoolyard directly across the street.

  11. Since I had an August 1, deadline, I feel like I still have so many summer things left to do. But I did get two wonderful times with the whole family–in Boothbay Harbor over July 4th and last week at the Jersey shore. Still, there was that little late August nip in the air last night. The seasons are moving inexorably forward.

    1. I am so glad you got to enjoy both of those family gatherings, Barb! It has been below 60 degrees over the last few mornings here so we are experiencing that nip too.

  12. Jessie, thanks for the salts idea! I always wonder how I can best preserve the herbs, other than pesto, and that’s a great plan.

    How wonderful, that so many of your favorite summer activities revolve around the beach. It would be lovely to have one close by. I miss being able to sit outside on a summer evening. We have so many mosquitoes here now, and West Nile has been found in our area, so we rarely get a chance to comfortably enjoy our beautiful patio and garden.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about the troubles in your area, Karen! I am a huge fan of the screened porch for just those reasons. I hope the autumn gives you a chance to get back outside.

  13. Heading to the beach for the day. I miss doing that. If it weren’t for ultimate Frisbee spring league, I’d never go to the beach any more.

    It seems like summer is busier for me than any other season these days. I’m not sure why that is, but it always goes so fast.

  14. Neither I nor my children ever started school before Labor Day, and I still cannot get used to the fact of this change. For me growing up, Labor Day w/e was the time you shifted gears. You got your school items ready and your brain in gear. You packed away the picnic set and the swim suits and moved into the fall.

    Now as a college professor, I find myself starting school TODAY! August 20, and I’m forced into fall, well before it’s time, especially since the humid and soggy summer wasn’t conducive to enjoying the great outdoors all that much. With the changing weather, the better weather seems to come in September and October, and the world seems turned on its ears. Wearing shorts to pick out the Halloween pumpkins doesn’t seem quite right.

    Anyway, school or not, I’m heading to the beach next week – Long Sands in York.

  15. All of your plans sound delightful, Jessie! I have to wonder about the new school calendar. Florida kids started school on the 13th. It seems so wrong! School ended the first week in June. That’s barely a summer break!

    My delight is having morning daylight and being able to sit on the porch with the first cup of coffee and the newspaper. It happens more often in the intention than the action, but it’s my dream. Maybe after I retire.

    1. The 13th? Wow! I would find that really, really disappointing! I just redid the porch at the beach last Thursday afternoon to include a new seating area and I have had my coffee out there every mornign since. I highly recommend it as a wonderful way to start the day!

  16. I especially like your plan to spend the day reading outside with a nice breeze blowing.

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