Memorial Day Marks The Start Of Summer


Memorial Day weekend — aahhhhhh.

There are a number of ways to determine the official beginning of summer — the summer solstice, the last day of school, the arrival of flip-flops in all the stores — but none speaks to me quite like Memorial Day.

I don’t care what the calendar says, the teacher says or America’s marketing machine says, summer arrives with the smell of hamburgers on the grill, the sight of frosty bottles in the cooler and the taste of fresh blueberry pie. There are flags, bunting and banners everywhere, but you blindfold me, spin me around, put me in the car and drive me down the street, and I will tell you if it’s summer or not.

Sniiiiiiiiiiff! Yup, it’s summer.

You know what’s hard about summer? The fact that school lingers on for weeks after Memorial Day. Wake up and smell the hamburgers, people!

Oh, those last few weeks of school are hard. The teachers are trying to finish everything up so they can send their young charges on to the next grade without embarrassment, and those young people are nowhere to be found. Sure, their bodies are in the seats, but their minds have them climbing trees, pedaling bikes, splashing in the local pool. If you don’t think they’ve been counting down to that final bell for days, just clock their average speed as they leave the building. I wish I could bottle that joy and sell it. I’d be a gazillionaire.

The average kid has big plans for summer. It doesn’t matter if they have any money — they have something far more valuable. Time. They know darn well that those (stupid) adults have effectively used their (stupid) laws to keep them cooped up in those (stupid) classrooms for months. They’ve even talked of year-round school!

Don’t grown-ups realize that kids learn more in one day off than in five days at a desk? A kid has the whole world to learn about… and all the animals and plants in it! And all the people, places and things… and they like to be hands-on — muddy hands, if possible.

The learning starts at home, of course, in one’s own back yard. But it soon progresses to the driveway, the sidewalk and then the other side of the block. Once the freedom of a bicycle is granted (or skates, scooter, skateboard — anything with wheels), it’s like a mini-driver’s license. Stand back and get out of their way!

June, July and August — the sweetest three months in any kid’s calendar. And they’re coming up fast.

Adults, take note: If you have anything you want to clean, organize, attend, write, read or (in general) focus upon, you have a few short weeks in which to accomplish those things. Memorial Day has been the kickoff to summer, and you get to enjoy it right up until school is out. Once it is, your summer is over. From then on, you’re racing with the bulls… or after them.