Shorting summer

August 21, 2013 

Most North Carolina children who attend traditional-calendar schools will be back in the classroom next week. It’s a time of beginnings and hope and all that, but we can’t help but see a gloomy side. It’s the end of summer.

How can the year’s warmest and most relaxing season be called off a month early? There’s something wrong with this rude and premature interruption of summer’s reverie. That’s why it’s consoling to have our misery find company in a lament published this week in the Wall Street Journal.

The piece written by David M. Shribman, the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Press, begins with an ode to August. Shribman writes: “It’s the month when the summer nights have a consistent, delicious crispness to them unknown at any other time of the year. It’s when the corn is sweet, the plums are purple and pungent, the baseball pennant races are mature, the ocean temperatures are warm. It is the very best month of the year. And we have ruined it.

“We’ve made August a horror of back-to-school and blinding activity, a time when offices are open late and summer camps close early. August is now no more special than June (part work and school, part holiday season), or a sunburned version of March. What we’ve done to August has made it the cruelest month: infuriating work and inescapable school obligations amid intoxicating weather.”

Not long ago there was a “Save our summers” movement led by North Carolina’s coastal communities that pushed back a school year that had crept into early August. Perhaps another drive could push it beyond Labor Day. It’s unlikely, but worth a dream in these dwindling days of summer.

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