Back to school weather

I have only recently caught up with the difference between meteorological seasons and astronomical seasons. I suppose that the distinction is important to some people, but it hasn’t had a big impact on my life. When we were children, the start of fall was the date set for the return to school, usually around the first of September. We knew, or at least learned in school, that the official start of autumn came a bit later, around the 21st of September, but we treated the months of June, July, and August as our summer dates. I also remember, from my childhood, that the weather often didn’t line up with the school dates. June often was rainy and chilly and September was usually sunny and warm. The first few days back at school were times of dealing with heat in buildings that had no air conditioning.

I was thinking about such last evening as we enjoyed sitting on our deck after sunset. We watched the stars become more visible as the light faded and enjoyed the quiet and warm temperatures as evening came on. Our grandson has his first day of school today - a bit different from the school children in Rapid City, who began school last Wednesday. We spoke with him over the computer last evening and he seems to be excited about the first day of school and the return to the school routine. He will be a third grader and in their elementary school the third grades are housed in portable classrooms set up in the school yard. The classrooms are a bit smaller than the other classrooms, but they have air conditioning, which is not part of the other rooms. Our grandson was unconcerned with the space and the air conditioning, and was focusing mostly on getting back together with his classmates. His school is relatively small, with 315 students, so he has met most of the children with whom he will be sharing a classroom this year.

September 3 is a day that I associate with the first day of school, though of course, school doesn’t always start on the same day of the month. It is my sister’s birthday and I always thought that she had an rather unfortunate birthday to land on or around the beginning of school each year. My birthday, in mid June, always landed during the summer vacation, as did that of another sister. I thought we were the lucky ones. Our birthdays occurred on days when we didn’t have to go to school. The other kids in our family had birthdays that landed during the school year, except for one brother whose birthday was Christmas Eve and so always during a school break.

The rhythm of summers off from school is not universal. There are many schools in the world that operate year round. Our traditions have their roots in times when many families made their living from family farms where the work load increased greatly during the summer and the children were needed for farm chores. Still, when we had children at home, I appreciated the vacation from school each year. There are many ways for children to learn and there was plenty of learning to be gained from family trips, an increase in unstructured play, and summer visits to the library and other places. The change in pace was good for our children. Returning to the classroom routine in the fall was an adjustment each year. We had to be more attentive to schedules, waking the children for breakfast to make sure they got to school on time and adjusting our family schedules to observe more consistent bedtimes. The return to school corresponds with an increase in program activity in the church, so the pace of our lives as parents also increased.

These days I don’t notice the shift in the pace of my life quite as much. I’m always busy at work at there are always plenty of tasks to be accomplished. Lots of home chores are seasonal such as lawn mowing and outside maintenance of our home, but those seasons don’t line up with the start of the school year exactly.

The forecast is for summer temperatures through the week. I’m sure that there are a few teachers and students who will be a bit uncomfortable with temperatures reaching near 90. Children are remarkably resilient and they’ll adjust to the circumstances, but high temperatures aren’t optimal for learning and the warm weather outside will prove to be a bit of a distraction for some I’m sure.

It seems a bit trivial that I’m journaling about the weather while Hurricane Dorian is stalled over the Bahamas and people are calling for help as the floodwaters continue to rise and the high winds hammer their homes. We live in a place that is remarkably free from such extreme weather. An occasional winter storm or spring blizzard can temporarily bring things to a slow down in our town and I know school officials were frustrated with the number of snow days last year, but we don’t face anything like the destruction and devastation that hurricanes can bring. Coastal cities from Florida to Virginia are bracing for possible damages from the storm as forecasters struggle to predict the path and the timing of the severe weather.

Meanwhile we’re in our usual routines, enjoying pleasant weather as the children return to school and we return to our routines. One news source reported that a church in Freeport had lost its roof and the airport was under 6 ft of water. When the severe weather subsides, the damage will be so great that the lives of many people will be disrupted for months if not years.

Meanwhile we were sitting on our deck enjoying the cool of the evening and feeling pretty lucky about the weather that we are enjoying. Somehow the visions of tropical paradise don’t seem too appealing to me.

Autumn is a glorious time to be in the hills. As the temperatures drop a bit and the tourists return home the hills are a great place to live and work. Indeed we are fortunate.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!