"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

Labor Day - the day that we celebrate that we have work by ceasing from our labors. What a great day!

I remember when I was a young girl, I used to go to the Labor Day picnic at Terrace Lake in New Jersey. Terrace Lake was a small puddle really in Pompton Plains (I think) owned by our little church denomination. The Labor Day picnic was the one day that those who were not members could enjoy the park's facilities. Membership was quite costly and I remember that we could not afford the steep $60 a year membership plus parking fees for visits. How I always wished I could go there. Once in a while someone would find it in their heart to gift us a membership and we could make it out there and hang with our friends.

I have so many good memories of those times.... turkish taffy, cotton candy, the big water slide and skimming across the water. The water slide seemed to be about 50 feet high and there was always a long row of people perched on the steep ladder, one on top of the other. It would probably be an insurance liability these days but then, it was just good clean fun. I do have to admit I was always sure that my wet hands would slip off the bar and that I would go plummeting to my death on the pavement below with plenty of horrified onlookers. Even once you got to the top, you quickly had to decide if you would go down on your stomach or behind, or for the brave backwards. As you launched your body off of the steep 90 degree slope, you had no time to think before you would go crashing into the water, skimming the top as far as you could. The great cloud of witnesses would ooh and aah at your bravery and athletic finesse. As I think about it now, I marvel that my mom let us all go down that slide. Then again, those were the days of sitting in the back of station wagons and skiing and riding bikes without helmets. It was so much more fun!

I remember how I looked forward to this day every year. It was the last day of summer and an introduction to the first day of fall.

The most fun was perhaps seeing friends for the first time after the LONG summer break (funny how it seemed so endless back then). I always wanted to wear some of my new fall clothing but it was usually too warm. Once in a while it rained and I found that most distressing as the festivities would be canceled or cut short.

Eventually we stopped going. After a while they stopped having the picnics - they were probably too much work and less and less people were getting involved. Although I remember visiting the park once in a while in High School as  'guest' of a friend, I think that soon after that the facility was no longer able to remain open due to financial constraints.

How many of us have memories like that of childhood? It's those times that give us cozy feelings that remain with us deeply for years. If we reach back into our memories, the good senses flood out and fill us with joy. Hopefully we are building those pleasures into the lives of our children and into our own lives.

I'm not really one for rituals in a way. I tend to be spontaneous and always enjoy the new and exciting - however, I am finding that there are some silly things that I do consistently. For instance, I enjoy sitting in the same seat at my dining room table. When I visit my favorite beach (which pretty much has become the only beach that I want to visit), I sit on the same rock in the same place. If I go to the little shack there to get food - I order the same clam chowder or the same flavor of ice cream. Even though I live "out of the box", it seems that I have willingly "boxed" myself in... it's all good of course, because it's what I enjoy.

Labor Day marks the end of summer for us. Some are happy about that, some are not! Some people had a great, busy relaxing summer while others worked their way through as though it never existed. There is something in all of us that wants to milk the "lazy days of summer" to their fullest. A few years ago when I was living on a mountain lake in New Hampshire this is what we did. I remember the days of sitting with all my friends on our private beach while our kids swam in the water for endless hours a day and we shared laughs and lives. These are friendships that I will value forever! When summer ended, we knew we had made the most of it - weather permitting...  Even then we would all run to the beach in a week in October when we'd get one more blast of indian summer to get us through the long, harsh winter.

Today we grab whatever we can and prepare to hunker down with life again. It's time to get serious and be scheduled. No more running to the beach for sunsets every night... there is homework to be done and work is a priority now. Senior Portraits are in full force and the gym is calling my name. Routine and schedule are in, staring at the surf are out.

There will be good times ahead, but they will be stolen moments in my structured days... until next summer when I once again get to play without pause.

So people, enjoy your day!!! It's good for the soul!

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