Today starts the “Labor Day” weekend holiday in the United States. America’s May Day is officially celebrated Monday.
Labor Day marks the end of summer when friends and family gather for the last summer barbecue. It vies with Christmas and New Years Day to be the least worked day in the U.S.
Vacations end, schools reopen, the fall sports season begins (especially American football), the culture season with operas and symphonies begin in the great cities, and everyone prepares to return to serious, long work weeks.
If ever a holiday marked the turning of a season, it’s Labor Day.
Days shorten. Where I live in the “Driftless Area” of the upper Midwest near the Mississippi river we currently enjoy 13 hours of sunlight, but that’s shrinking by nearly 3 minutes a day until December 21 when we’ll have less than 9 hours.
Our great green forests are beginning to change color. Soon there will be piles of brown and red leaves on the ground where now there are only scattered yellow leaves. The sumac will turn a deep red, elm yellow, maple become blood red and oak a warm, deep orange.
Many species of birds that nest and spend the summer in the far north are flying south through our area, and many of our own resident species are beginning to gather in large flocks before they fly south, too. A month ago my area had around 180 resident bird species, many which were still nesting. A month from now that will be nearer 80, for those are the only birds that know how to live through winter.
The wild turkey are eating madly to beef up for winter. Deer fawn are grown and losing their spots. Our pet dogs are shedding handfuls of hair all over the place.
Before we know it the forests will be leafless, great sculptures of sticks and the crackly ground beneath them will be covered in snow.
Of course there is something unusual about this year. More unusual than any other in my life time. Our national elections could herald unimaginable change. Most of us are fed up with the long campaign. We just want the process to be over.
Usually, Labor Day is nostalgic. We grow up with our families reliving celebrations, commenting on the changing weather and reflecting with hope on the future. This year is different. We are all uncertain what our election will bring.