Football is definitely in the air. Down here it's Gator football, but wherever you are, whether it's Roll Tide, Go Big Red, or Boomer Sooner it attracts the interest and the imagination with its excitement and color.
Living in Florida, I find the upcoming stretch of weather to be the best time of the year. The days remain warm but not oppressive and the nights, oh those wonderful nights, with cool breezes allowing windows to remain open and the air conditioning off. The lower humidity and cooler temps give me more energy and it's nice to take care of the animals each morning without breaking into a sweat. It is a wonderful time of year and while even the winter is mild compared to most of the country, the late December to early March stretch can provide significant numbers of sub-freezing nights. My bones just don't care for the cold any longer.
As a boy I didn't feel this way. The Labor Day weekend signified two things to me: the return to the city from summer on North Carolina's Outer Banks and the beginning of school. I remember how sad I was to help my mom close down the summer cottage and pack up things to return home. And then, to add insult to injury, the next morning dawned with the first day of a new year at school. Oh, the indignity of it all.
I can remember the first few weeks of the new term daydreaming about my leisurely days of surf casting, swimming, and walking the beach with thoughts of the spirited brigands who roamed those very same waters and beaches many years before. I also remember being rudely awakened by my teacher as she rapped my desk with her ruler to regain my consciousness. I must confess it took me the entire month of September to get my head screwed back on.
I must confess one other thing about my glorious summers at the beach. Since our family cottage was adjacent to a group of long term rental cottages, each year at the beach I usually made acquaintance with a pretty girl. Usually she would be with her family for a stay of at least a month, so we frequently became close in the traditions of "puppy love" and I, of course, knew that she was the girl of my dreams. We hated to part at the end of the vacation, vowed to stay in touch forever and invariably wrote a few back and forth letters before forgetting one another. It's funny, though, how as I get older I can remember those days vividly. Oh what the mind does to us as we age.
The only thing that would get me in gear in school was football season. I put my energies into football and with it I knew that schoolwork was a necessary evil if I wanted to have fun. Mom had the rule: have fun but only after doing your homework. While I hated the idea sometimes, I thank the Lord that she instilled in me the discipline to do what was necessary and, as a result, I ended up making good grades and successfully completed college and grad school.
So here's to September, the good and the bad of it. Oh, not really bad, but sometimes judged that way by a young, energetic boy who had other things he wanted to do. Remember that when you deal with your own children or grandchildren, and let them have fun while also guiding them to prepare themselves for life on their own. It comes much sooner than anyone thinks.
Dear Lord, Thank you for the wonderful joys of summer each year and also the change of seasons and activities that come with the Fall. Help us to appreciate the different seasons and understand that they are gifts from Thee which add beauty and variety to our life experiences. Help our children to use their time in school wisely so that they might develop knowledge and skills useful to upcoming adulthood and in support of Thy goals for them. And help all parents to encourage and require their children to meet standards that are both helpful to them in life and n accordance with Thy wishes. Finally, help our teachers to do their jobs professionally and morally, always putting the children first in the classroom and keeping Thy will in their hearts no matter what limitation earthly power may constrain them with. They are a major factor in developing children along with parents and it is important that they honor Thee in the process.
Oh, Lord, one last thing. As the days get shorter, the nights longer, and the trees become barren and the wind biting, help us to use our memories of the glories of summer to sustain our strength to continue to learn and grow no matter what stage of life we find ourselves in. Those wonderful memories help us to remember the fun times which are so necessary to a happy and joyous life. And thank Thee for giving us these wonderful experiences to remember forever. We ask in the name of Thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Hang on to the wonderful memories. Summer will come again sooner than you think. And God bless you all.