This weekend marks the end of summer. Wear you white shoes and carry your white purse because when the weekend is done they must be put away. As I researched for this article I found nothing about the wearing of white aspect. I am not sure how that started, but those of you who are my age certainly remember the rigid rules that developed about the wearing of the color white.
I think of this last weekend of summer as being time for the family. Whether your family plans a picnic or another type of outing, it is the last fling before the children have a full week of school with all that it entails.
Our family usually went to my aunt and uncle's cottage for our picnic. There are many photographs that include at least four generations of relatives there. The cottage was on Lake Erie. There was a wooden stairway that led to the beach. It was not a very sandy beach, but one with a lot of slate. We'd find a spot to put our towels, then, wade in jumping up and down in the waves. None of us were great swimmers so we stayed close to shore.
We often had hot dogs and hamburgers along with the traditional picnic fare. Since all of the families contributed to the food supply we always had plenty to eat.
During my research on a government website I found out that the current Secretary of Labor is Hilda L. Solis. When I was going to school I could recite all of the heads of the cabinet departments, but these days they change so frequently that I do not pay much attention.
The labor movement who described themselves as "dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American workers" were the driving force for setting aside a holiday to honor the American worker. More than a century after the first observance of the holiday, the origin remains somewhat of a mystery with conflicting facts documented. Some credit Peter McGuire with the idea suggesting that it was during his tenure as secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners that he insisted it was time for the nation to honor American workers.
Others suggest it was Matthew Maguire that proposed the holiday in 1882. The Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a commission to plan a demonstration and a picnic for Tuesday, September 5, 1882.
In 1884 the first Monday in September was made the official day for a "workingmen's holiday". The first state to pass a law setting aside a day to honor laborers was Oregon. Other states followed suit until the day was recognized as a national holiday.
I suggest at this point that few people today realize what Labor Day was intended to be. It is nothing more than a holiday at this point. There are no public celebrations that pay homage to the American worker. It is just a day off for many while others work so that the ones who are off can enjoy their day of freedom from work.
In the years that we were farming, Labor Day was like any other day. There was no day off. We got up, milked the cows, and did whatever else needed to be done. We seldom celebrated. Sometimes the men were taking in second cut hay. I was busy getting things ready for school. We started the week before the holiday so usually I had papers to correct and plans to make for the next week.
Since I was a working mother, I also cooked big meals over the weekend. I wanted to be sure I had leftovers to heat up to last for most of the week. Now there is even a television show devoted to cooking for a week. I was ahead of my time. I did that forty years ago.
I remember one particular Labor Day. The day was warm and sunny. By evening the air was cool, but very pleasant. I wanted to be with my husband so I walked down to the barn. By then the children were off to college so it was just the two of us at home. It was a beautiful time to walk. The sun was a brilliant orange orb slipping below the horizon. I walked slowly taking note of all of the changes happening in the fields. The pallet of wildflowers changed from the summer offering to the autumn asters and goldenrod. I listened to the crickets chirping. I found a chrysalis on a stalk of milkweed and rescued it to take to my classroom the next day. In my room science was all about doing things in a hands-on manner.
Savor the end of summer as it comes your way. Soak up the sunshine it has to last for a long time. Get ready to enjoy the colorful show the Lord provides in the season we call autumn. What is prettier than a maple tree in full color? I absolutely love the change of seasons. I must admit though that fall is not as exciting as spring, in spite of its beauty. Spring is filled with anticipation while fall is filled with the impending death of vegetation. All too soon the plants will be dormant. Not long after that there is a mantel of white.
Enjoy the nice weather while it lasts. At least we cannot say that we did not have a summer this year!
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org