“Life is fleeting …cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. When a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular.”
~ Robin Williams in “Jack” (1996)
Tuesday, the Perseid meteor shower peaked. A tiny edge off spectacular perhaps due to the dominant Super Moon shedding its light on the night scene. On that very same day, our local kids were back in the classroom. Summer continues on with hot days, afternoon thunderheads and warm evenings, chirping crickets and shooting stars. Thankfully some things never change.
Out of kindness and sympathy, I tried to hide this fact from the neighborhood kids; starting school in August was unheard of when I was their age. Summer was three glorious months long. Not only did we have Labor Day off, but also the whole following week. I don’t pretend to understand the drastic change in the school year, but I trust there is good reason.
Back-to-school weather is no different for kids in August than it was for us in September … hot! Thankfully, students can now find relief in air-conditioned classrooms. Back in the olden days of the 1960s, we made fans from colored construction paper and called it an “art project!”
After researching the origins of the “three-month summer vacation,” I found they were mostly tied to the weather. Out the window went the theory of “children were needed on the farm to help with the harvesting.” Weather in the Foothills becomes “Myth Busters”!
My grandma grew up on a farm in Kansas. Her father was a homesteader in the 1880s. There he and his wife cultivated a farm and raised their 12 children. Summertime was relatively calm other than the day-to-day care of livestock, gardening and fruit canning. Staying cool and mosquito-free were priorities.
A much anticipated annual event were the falling stars in August. Quilts were spread in the wheat fields. Besides escaping the hot, stuffy farm house, you were part of an audience treated to a heavenly show. “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…” (Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”).
The American summer vacation slowly evolved and became the standard. Why?
Conditions in urban areas were unbearable. Summer heat, dirt roads, horses, insects and crowded conditions made cities unhealthy. The middle and upper class – including teachers – left for the cooler country (or ocean) sides. No teachers, no school. By 1900, urban school calendars were minus 60 summer days. Rural schools soon followed.
Our weather is currently the result of an area of high pressure over New Mexico and an eddy (low) along the coast. The first is defined by dry, hot conditions and the second by low clouds and cooler temperatures. The two are equally stubborn as the weather remains basically constant into next week. Daytime highs will hover around 90 degrees. Cool nights prevail when temperatures drop to the lower 60s.
Enjoy… and always carpe diem.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and Official Skywarn
Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.