Labor Day is the most bittersweet holiday. It affords a welcome day of rest from the labor that it honors, but unofficially marks when the carefree days of summer give way to the seriousness of autumn and winter. As much as we enjoy the bratwurst and beer and the day of rest, we still feel the annual resentment of the Huckleberry Finn freedom of summer vacation coming to an end with our forced return some stern schoolmarm’s classroom, along with all the adult responsibilities that are supposed to kick back in with the cooler temperatures, and this being a leap year we’re also obliged by a quadrennial political cliche to start paying even more attention to that dispiriting presidential race.
Here in Kansas, at least, we don’t acknowledge Labor Day as the actual end of summer. The kids have already been back in school for a couple of weeks, a form of child abuse we were happily spared back in our school days, those slowing-to-a-crawl school zone speed limits are back in effect along with all the rest of the adult responsibilities that never did really go away, and politics is a constant obsession even in off-years, so some arbitrary date on a calendar doesn’t mean much around here. The warm weather usually persists at least the first few weeks into September, sometimes even into October, until the big bluegrass festival down in Winfield and the Kansas State Fair over in Hutchinson have concluded no one around here will call it a summer, and we’ll keep wearing a straw fedora until the temperatures require a cloth cap, no matter what rules of hat etiquette they might have cooked up in the frigid northeast.
We’ll take today off, too, and enjoy family and friends and good food and the absence of labor, along with the strangely perfect weather we’ve been lately been having around here, and we suggest you do the same. Tomorrow is another work and school day, and there’s that dispiriting presidential election lurking in the day’s news, and it would be good to face it well rested.
— Bud Norman