So, what’s your favorite holiday? I know that just the mention of Halloween can give most children a sugar rush. I know that pyromaniacs can’t wait for the Fourth of July. My wife is never happier than when gets to cook for a small army so Thanksgiving and Passover are at the top of her list and I confess that there’s a gluttonous slacker in me that loves the protracted, lazy, do-nothing overload of the Christmas holidays. But for the sheer downright giddy relief of it, for the prospect of stopping to chat with neighbors again, and taking walks on the beach without black flies, and making left turns on Route Six without fearing for my life, there’s no holiday that holds more promise for me than Labor Day.
Although I’m hoping it’s a trend that will not continue, summer has the potential to be really dangerous around here. In no particular order of horrible possibilities, I worry about forest fire as a result of the extended drought. I worry about death by shark and all the other blood hungry creatures out there, like mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus and ticks with babeseosis. Swimmers on the bay beaches are being attacked by microscopic parasites called pin jimmies, and The Cape Cod Times recently reported that a man was bitten by a Boa Constrictor in Hyannis woods. When I was growing up, the best song to describe July and August was Nat King Cole’s Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer. Nowadays it’s more like AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.
I’m aware there are a lot of people who lament the end of summer. I had a girlfriend who used to get seriously depressed every autumn and I get that. Good friends are returning to school and work. The days are shorter. The nights are colder and as people close up their summerhouses there’s a feeling of emptiness and abandonment…as if the party packed up and moved to the city.
But I don’t look at what we lost. I look at everything Labor Day brings with it. For one, smiles. Really. Go into town, any Cape Cod town, on the Tuesday after Labor Day and you’ll meet lots of people you haven’t seen in months, many of them barely able to suppress a grin, eager to chat and catch up. And now there’s football again. And the baseball play-offs in October that infuse even the world’s slowest game with some much needed excitement. There are yard sales, and purple sunsets and apples. After a summer of what they pass off as peaches these days I really look forward to a fruit that supposed to be hard as a rock. Yes, I admit it, this is the time of year when suddenly everything is pumpkin flavored—chewing gum, tortilla chips, Oreo cookies, bagels, and dog food; no, I’m not making this up—but it’s also the time of year we get to wear jackets again. So, I know we can all wear our shirts outside our pants now, so this isn’t about covering up our midsections. What it is about is pockets. One of the things I really miss in hot weather is someplace to stash my wallet, my keys, my glasses, and my enormous smart phone, all of which weigh so much they pull my cargo shorts down to my butt crack.
No doubt there is no better place in the country to spend the summer months than Cape Cod. No doubt the summer is fundamental to our economy. And of course there are things I appreciate about summer. I love making a beach fire at Newcomb Hollow. I love the sweet fat golden tomatoes from my garden and late afternoon swims at Duck Harbor. But I don’t see Labor Day as the death of summer. I see it as the rebirth of life as we know it.
I’m Ira Wood…and that’s my opinion.