The calendar says today is August 21, 2011. As I write this sentence, the clock says it’s 6:22 p.m. The almanac and calendars mark the beginning of fall with the Autumnal Equinox which, this year, occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on September 23 at 5:05 a.m. (EDT).
Despite all the official rules to the contrary, my heart declares today the last day of summer.
I love the path I’ve chosen for my career. But I always feel a bit sad at the end of summer. I don’t feel the same way at the end of fall or spring. Despite the South’s professed love of “football weather,” we don’t really have a fall season. It’s hot, then slightly less hot. Then it’s relatively cold for a few days each week for a few weeks. Then, by early March, spring has arrived, which means flowers and slightly cooler temps than “real” summer. Spring comes early here in the deep South. Our seasons don’t follow the calendar or the sun.
I return to campus tomorrow for faculty development activities. Classes begin August 29. For the next nine months, the bulk of my time will be devoted to my students, to teaching, to advising, to service to my academic community. Although I do a lot of (unpaid) academic work during the summer, I have a nine-month contract so I can (mostly) control how I spend my time during the summer.
When I practiced law, I worked in an office year-round. There was no contractual break, during which I wasn’t obligated to report to an office to fulfill official responsibilities. Nonetheless, the entire business and legal community seemed to mostly recognize the unofficial season of “summer.” Dress was more casual, time-off more frequent (at least for most practicing lawyers), clients were more understanding that a project, meeting or deal might be delayed due to vacation scheduling.
Even in the legal world, though, “summer” ended when the “kids” returned to school. Schedules returned to something resembling structure and normalcy. Weeklong vacations at the beach disappeared into the occasional three-day weekend.
So, tonight I must philosophically shift gears. I turn from watermelons, pool time and the opportunity to contemplate the big picture to a regimented schedule of class sessions, exams, meetings and fixed project deadlines.
I didn’t make it to the beach this summer. Maybe Thanksgiving will bring that opportunity.
I took a break from writing this post, for a bit, to water my flowers and my tomatoes. The rest of my vegetable garden has called it a year, but the tomatoes are just beginning to peak. I hope my tomatoes are still going strong when summer officially comes to an end just over one month from now.
It’s 7:45 p.m. and, for practical purposes, it’s dark out. Sunrise comes later, as well. The sun is telling us that summer is waning. I wish the temps would do the same: It’s still 89 degrees.