The End of Summer
In Florida, the hot summer days never cease. The temperature does not drop; the leaves fade; never glory in red, yellow, and orange changes. The median temperature, eighty-eight, in June, July and August varies only one degree in September, but the days grow shorter.
The end of summer is an event in my mind, attended by memories and strong scents; long idle days accompanied by the excitement of new beginnings, school.
We did not mind summer heat on Long Island. We lived in a Levitt house and felt lucky to have a community pool, which we walked to daily, for 9AM swimming lessons. Learning to swim was a safety issue. The instructor taught the sidestroke saying, “Imagine picking an apple from a tree, put it in your opposite hand, and then reach for another apple,” which we practiced lying on the cement. Once in the pool, a magic scissor kick produced a glide through the water.
Next, we learned the Australian crawl, holding on pool side. We blew bubbles, our face in the water, we then turn our mouth to the side and gasped for air. The breathing technique was essential to mastering the crawl, or freestyle as it is known today.
At Lunch time we walked home to eat sandwiches of peanut butter & jelly, or baloney on Wonder bread. Occasionally, lunch was a tuna fish sandwich or tomato soup. After a rest, sitting on the living room couch in the dark, we walked backed to the pool for open swim.
Mornings off from swimming lessons, I met my friend, Vicki Love, under the Weeping Willow tree in her yard. We played Gin Rummy until lunch.
As I grew older, the summer felt shorter although the calendar said the number of days for summer vacation stayed the same.
Even though summer ended, school was beginning.
I loved school, the smell of pencil shavings, blackboard dust, leather school bags, and white shoe polish.
My leather school bag was a birthday gift from my grandmother, not a hand-me down. Brand clean with an adjustable lock flap that expanded effortlessly when the bag was very full. The frame kept the bag open while I search inside for homework or an eraser.
Florida’s summer does not come to an end. The leaves do not change, although, the nights are slightly cooler and the days shorter. The end of summer is an event in my mind.
. . . just saying