I’m not sure why it hit me so hard, but the other day as I was putting together Thursday’s newspaper, I was checking dates on the top of each page. Luckily, each page read Aug. 15, 2013, however, it didn’t set well with me.
That’s right, my friends. Half of August is gone, kaput, absent, missing ... Where did it go?
Why it wasn’t that many years ago when August seemed to go on forever — a steamy, hot friend who came and didn’t leave until school started after Labor Day. I loved him like one cherishes any free-spirited friend who challenges the norm and kicks caution to the wind. August was the kid who didn’t abide by any rules and sucked you into his whimsical ways and mischievous monkey business.
August was the time when our adults pretty much left us alone. Perhaps it was because they were so sick of our antics they couldn’t muster the energy to keep us on the straight and narrow for one more day ... or maybe they just knew school was looming in the not-too-distant future and this was going to be our last hurrah. Either way, August was the culmination of our summer, and probably only because we wanted it to, the days drug on and on and on ... We loved it.
We spent countless hours doing everything yet nothing. We played in the fresh water spring in the pasture and made the trek to Big Bureau Creek as often as we could. We laid in the grass and talked ... again about everything yet nothing. We sat on the porch. We rode our bikes on countless adventures. And we completely ignored the new school clothes, the new saddle shoes and the new school supplies, knowing these items were like the enemies that would ultimately fire the bullets that would kill our summertime bliss.
We would spend an enormous amount of time planning our visit to the Bureau County Fair; daily, we counted the money we had saved. We spent hours trying to figure out how much money would be devoted to rides on the Ferris wheel, the tilt-a-whirl and the merry mixer, which each cost only 50 cents back then — long before armbands were even invented. We looked forward to the fair with all the gusto kids from the ‘60s could muster, and never once, did the academic equation of starting school ever enter into our plans.
After all, August was for daydreaming, lolly-gagging, soaking up every bit of summertime fun with no thoughts of schedules, homework. School was as far away from our youthful minds as it could get, and we liked it that way. We lived in the moment and thought of nothing further than that moment. There was time ... plenty of it.
But then somewhere along the line, some school board member somewhere in the world made the ugly decision to start school in August (probably some board member who never had the chance to study the clouds in an August sky, play in the murky waters of the local creek or ride his bike down a gravel road — destination, unknown). His fellow board members agreed, and the idea of starting school in August spread like a wildfire, ravaging every summer dream in its path.
It was a spark — presumably fueled by adult thinking that focused on getting out of school earlier in the spring; the use of snow days; the lack of air conditioning in schools; and more. Though the excuses were as weak as a kid with a supposed stomach ache on the day of his math test, the motion was made, seconded and passed. School boards across the country jumped on that yellow school bus bandwagon, and now, we are left to wonder where August really went.
The result? August has been interrupted, and I, for one, resent it. Today’s kids will never know the wonderful, lingering, hot and steamy, lolly-gagging days of August. But there’s no more time. I’m sorry, kids, for your loss ...