I’ve been trying to figure out why the beginning of September makes me feel a little bluesy… Not sad, per se. But a wee bit of melancholia creeps up as I notice the light shifting and shadows growing longer. The mornings are cooler, as are the evenings, but in between, the sun’s rays cause layers to be shed as the days heat up. Technically, it’s pretty terrific weather. So, what gives? (And shouldn’t I be good at living in the moment by now?)
As a kid, the shift in mood was due to summer drawing to a close and the uncertainty that comes with a new school year–new teachers, new subjects, new routines. (The silver lining? School supply shopping!) But now that I’m an adult living life more or less by my own design, there’s no logical reason to feel like I have to hang up the carefree attitude that summer brings just because I may have to put on a sweater every now and then.
If you examine this on a social level, it’s kind of fascinating to think that this long-lasting effect came from educational reformers like Horace Mann, who wanted to merge the agrarian school calendar with the urban school calendar back in the 1840s. At the time, farm kids were out of school for stretches of time to help with spring planting and fall harvest. City kids, however, endured 48 weeks of learning in cities that sweltered without the benefit of electric fans or air conditioning in summer months. According to Time magazine, the prevailing medical belief was that living in such conditions could spread disease and lead to nervous disorders or insanity. It began as a way to provide a respite from the heat and, and continues to leave us with a desire to get away. But what if it had never happened? Or if it were during a different season?
Think about it. By the time we are adults, we’ve been so conditioned by our school routines and experiences that many of us still get a pang of remorse as August ticks away–even if our careers are not dictated by season. When I worked in education, admittedly, I liked having the holidays off. Summer vacation? Yes, please! So, what’s my problem now? It is just that I live in New England where there are actually seasons that make the change even more obvious? Would it be different if I lived in Southern California where every day is pretty much gorgeous and sunny? (Could be a grand research project, me thinks!) Is there a way to make peace with the changing of the seasons?
I don’t really have an answer to the question. But I’d love to hear yours!