In the grocery market this morning I wheeled my cart past shelves of Halloween candy. The bakery section is stocked with pumpkin muffins and cupcakes with orange icing. They’ve been out since Labor Day (September 5).
Hold on there dudes and dudesses! Don’t light the jack-o-lanterns yet. I like Halloween as much as the next chocolate addict, but it is not October. It’s not even autumn. It is still summer. I’ve never accepted the “unofficial end of summer” notion of Labor Day. The days are warm (88 F today [31 C]) here in northern NJ, the leaves are green (OK, a few red and yellow ones can be found, but you have to look hard for them), and my pool is open. Summer ends when earth’s orbit says it does: September 22 this year, and not before. I’m not ready to let it go until then. A local black bear agrees. He swam in my pool today.
It is easy to be negative about September. Even if “back to school” is in one’s distant past, the memory of it lingers. Autumn does eventually arrive during the month (not yet, not yet), and that reminds us of the approach of winter. Since prehistory, humans always have drawn a parallel between their own lives and the solar year, and we still do – e.g. Frank Sinatra The September of My Years. So, the fall reminds us of aging. Yet the ancients rather liked the autumn anyway. It was a time of abundance when the crops came in. In the weeks prior to the equinox the Romans held games (horse, chariot, and foot races and the like) while the equinox itself was a time for street and merchant fairs. Neo-pagans of various stripes in recent years have revived interest in equally cheerful ancient Celtic celebrations. Yes, winter will come, but for now, as they saw it, life is good. It’s not a bad way to see it. Maybe when the leaves do fall I’ll rake up a pile and jump in. I haven’t done that in a few decades.
But, once again, we are still this side of the equinox. It is still summer.
The Beach Boys – All Summer Long