As a child, I used to become increasingly morose as the end of summer approached. But not for the reason you might think.
I marked the progress of summer by events, starting in June with the annual two-week stay with my dad in the city. Then on to the fourth of July, when I got to pick out all these wonderful fireworks (some as politically incorrect now for the danger they posed as for their names).
And finally, my birthday.
My birthday is August 2. And for me, that meant the end of summer, and waiting a whole year to be the center of attention again.
There was always a big, scruptious cake made by Mrs. Akin, the local baking whiz, a label that said a lot in a town where ladies determined social pecking order by who was better at entertaining. And for that generation, entertaining equalled putting out a good spread, using the best china.
I later learned that Mrs. Akin didn't bake for money out of choice, but necessity. When her husband died, she discovered she would have to work to make ends meet for her and her sons. So she offered her culinary skill to the community. Part of me has always associated food with love, so a part of me will always love Mrs. Akin.
Like Mrs. Akin, my mom was also a working mother (a term that carries different connotations now than it did then). Except she was divorced with 5 kids. So having her 100% focus-from the cake and birthday invitations, down to the matching Scooby Doo/Pink Panther tablecloth and napkins-was a gift in itself.
So no, I did not dread the end of summer because of school starting. Rather, I was that oddball one in 10 kids that actually looked forward to the routine and the great school lunches (something I could no longer say once I left elementary school).
Plus, I loved shopping for school supplies. The list, the newness of everything, the big, fat pencils in metallic red, blue and green.The boxes of crayons in 64 colors! With everything set out in neat piles, awaiting my selection. The smell of new beginnings. The promise of a new start. Sigh. I was in heaven. Perhaps that explains today's fondness of office supply stores.
As an adult, I no longer dread the end of summer. Fall is my favorite season. The energy in the air, the autumn colors and smells, the sense of expectation and change.
For me, that is renewal.