Reflection 2013 When Labor Day Celebrated Summer

The Rain God Small

I remember a time when summer was so loved in American culture that it was not ruled by The All Mighty School Year. The start of summer was simple: as soon as it was still light after supper, it was summer because you could be excused from the table to go outside and play. Summer ended the week before Halloween because then it was already dark when you were allowed to leave the supper table.

In those bygone days, Americans were not as stupid as they are today, lived a significant part of their lives out of doors, did not go back to school until well after Labor Day, and understood that summer was ruled by the sun. In those days, the School Calendar did not control society because public schools were still devoted to liberal education and liberally-educated folk would not submit to domination by professional morons.

In our time, public schools are an International Embarrassment: they are dedicated not to liberal education but to the Education of Liberals, which is to say ignorance, doctrine and banality. They have been seized by the federal government and political unions with the result that it is impossible for public school “educators” to pen an educated letter to parents, and students can’t find Japan on a map. What’s worse, their parents don’t know their equinoxes from their solstices.

When I was a kid, summer was glory. Precious sunlight was distilled into plump, juicy tomatoes; crisp, green cucumbers; golden-rippled, rough-husked ears of milky corn, swelled globes of luscious, sweet watermelons; clusters of fragrant, beaded blackberries. To celebrate this wondrous transformation, we would do what humans have done ceremonially for millions of years: we built fires.

Before our current Time Of Eating Healthy—when publicly-educated folk clamor for probiotics even though they have no knowledge of them—we kindled flames in barbeque pits and in barbeque grills; to these solar emblems we committed thick hamburger patties and plump frankfurters. Dad tended the fire while Uncle Mason, a burly railroad man, turned the crank on the ice cream machine—burgeoning with cream, sugar and fresh peaches from the tree by the fence—and Mom and Aunt Irene prepared platters of fried chicken, deviled eggs and potato salad.

Apostates of the golden light, we rose early, expended ourselves interacting with nature under cerulean skies, and captured, in clean glass jars, the flesh of our sacred produce to sustain us in the coming grey days when the holy light was scant. In those days that I remember, Labor Day was a happy summer festival for which we kindled a special fire. In those days, summer was ruled by the sun, Americans possessed knowledge and consulted it before speaking, people reveled in life outdoors and culture was still susceptible to glory. No more. Glory is fled. Class dismissed.

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