So this was it, the last day of freedom. We went to the pool on Labor Day early because we thought it would be packed but the lifeguard maintained a lonely vigil. The signs of impending closure were everywhere. The dirt and debris from the storm still lay at the bottom between the blue facade and the lifeguard apologized when he fished out a dead frog. Those lazy afternoons are over until May.
It seemed only last week when schools closed for summer and the kids faced long, sultry days free of testing and classrooms and the constant clatter of bells.
I knew I had felt sadder when the holidays were at an end and that joyous day when we threw our school ties in the hedge was a distant memory. In the interval, there had been long summer days by the lake, adventures at the disused railroad line and the obligatory family holiday.
We never went anywhere glamorous but the memories lingered in a deeper color than so many others. The cottage with the strange smelling 'garlic sausage room' and the thick leather chairs we would spin in, the garden alive with buzzing wildflowers, the hint of purple on the mountainside and the sgulls that cawed and wheeled high above the whitewashed alleys of St Ives. The simplicity was curiously powerful. Miles away there were kids whose parents never thought, or cared or just walked away into the deep vermillion Wild West sunset like the one we saw once simmering over the farm tractors of a Devon field.
I have tried to do the same. I took the kids to New York and the mountains of upstate New York. The trash blowing down the New Jersey street outside the motel was a light year away from those cliffs and bays of childhood memory but I hoped the experience would make a difference. They saw buildings that soared away from the pavements and dreams in stone and glass. I hoped one day they would look back in the way I do.
So it's back to school tomorrow and perhaps I'm more sad about the loss of their freedom than they are. Perhaps they don't even see it that way. The world has changed a lot and it's been more years than I care to remember.