It’s a Wrap!

by Jane M. Bailey      

First published in The Litchfield Connection, September 2022

This week, like every week, I folded laundry. Nothing special about that. I found myself folding all three of my white pants, ankle, capri, and one that doesn’t match any fashion length. I heard my mother’s gremlin voice, “Time to put these away.”

I do put away folded laundry so wondered why my gremlin was annoying me. Then it hit me. It was Labor Day. As in “You can’t wear white after Labor Day! Put these away where you can’t see them until Memorial Day.”

Oh, that’s what the gremlin meant. Time to wrap up Summer 2022.

Just who determined such a rule that you can’t wear white…pants, shoes, purses after Labor Day? What about on Indian Summer days? Or winter white outfits? I suppose it’s the same person who determined when we can wear patent leather shoes.

I folded my pants and put them in a storage box close enough to reach if I decide to violate convention.

To celebrate completion of laundry, I poured myself a glass of iced tea. Uh-oh, I heard Mom again. The iced tea must go. I opened the fridge to see what else would help me celebrate. There was a bottle of lemonade. Hmm. Am I allowed to drink that after Labor Day? What about ON Labor Day? I poured myself the largest glass I could find so I could clean out my summer-fridge and switch to fall-fridge. No more lemonade and watermelon. Now it’s cider and apples.

If you’re starting to think I’m crazy, think again. McDonald’s McCafe has reprised their Pumpkin Spice Lattes and as of September 14 is adding a new twist to their fall menu. Their 1980’s Danish Bites are being revamped to go with their seasonal lattes. Doesn’t sound like fall to me, but McCafe assures me Danish Bites are a special autumn treat.

Just a week ago, summer stretched like a rubber band. I languished on the deck, book on lap and watched hummingbirds gulping nectar, getting ready for their migration. The few red leaves popping among the green were teasers rather than threats to a relaxed summer pace.

And overnight it’s here. Autumn. I know, I know. The astronomical fall equinox isn’t until September 22. If we go by the northern hemisphere’s meteorological seasons, fall began on September 1. We all know, however, that summer really ends on Labor Day. That’s it.

Chrysanthemums line the entrance to the grocery store. A bin of mini pumpkins reminds me to buy squash soup, autumn napkins, and pumpkin spice candles.

It’s almost time to put the garden to bed. Everything looks overgrown and in need of a good barber. Yet begonias hold their own, providing color too beautiful to wrest from the ground.  

School buses crisscross town, and the calendar fills. Hurry! Hurry! Put the fans away. Freeze the garden herbs. Pick up last winter’s sweaters from cleaners. Uh-oh. I wonder how long they keep things; I think I dropped the sweaters off in April. This could be a problem.

In the hustle-bustle of the new season, I stop and remember the pop of an acorn drop. The crunch of leaves releasing the smell of fall football. Aunt Marion hunched over her sewing machine, making me a new first-day-of-school dress. A black composition book, waiting for the first name-class-subject-date heading of my new grade. The smell of chalk dust on black boards and wax on gleaming school floors.

The Labor Day whistle blows and we’re off into a new season. Goodbye hummingbirds, goodbye geese. We’ll be waiting for your return in 2023. For now, it’s onward into the corn maze.

Ok, everyone, Summer 2022 is a wrap!