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Summer's Over

10/06/08 7:55AM By Mike Martin
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(HOST) With fall here and the kids back in school, teacher and commentator Mike Martin has been thinking that saying goodbye to summer is never easy.

(MARTIN) As a kid growing up in Vermont, I remember summer was always heady and sweet. Winter was long, and spring was muddy, but summer was nothing but pleasure packed into a few short weeks. There was the thick smell of freshly cut grass and of the musky hot tar of newly paved roads.

There was the scrape, crack, ring of kick-the-can followed by backyard sprints and bushy hiding spots. There were swimming holes with hard, cold, round stones to jam your toes on, and mossy, warm, flat ones to rest on afterwards.

And there was the Fair. It was announced in advance by loud handbills on store windows and telephone poles, and later by the sight of neon and metal jutting up into the sky just off the main road through town. And for one week, my boring hometown would become the fun Mecca for counties around, with kids and parents and young lovers and farm animals all flocking in for the summer's grand finale.

But when the Fair came to town, it always brought a vague feeling of foreboding, too. Just under the tingle of excitement and bustle about town was a melancholy as real as the snap of autumn chill drifting in on the breeze some days. And that cool air and funny feeling in your stomach could only mean one thing: Back to School.

And no matter how much I liked my new back-to-school outfits, and no matter how confident I felt with my 5-subject binder with a map of the world and conversion tables in the back, and no matter how curious I was about my new teacher and new class, it was still an awful feeling to say goodbye to summer. After all, even a so-so summer is still way better than a good school year.

Well, now that I'm a teacher and all grown up, I wish I could say that things are different, but they're not. The older I get, the sweeter summer seems, and the funny feeling in my stomach feels the same as it did in 3rd Grade. Of course I don't get much sympathy from non-teacher friends who are jealous in July and smug in September--and perky teachers who claim to be refreshed and eager to get back to work don't help either. I mean, I regard them with suspicion. Honestly, how could you ever happily turn your back on summer?

So if some teachers seem a little wistful this time of year, keep in mind that they may have loved summer just a little too much and a little too well. But, on the other hand, teachers who wring every drop of experience out of summer, who savor each afternoon and think about how quickly time passes, who pay close attention to the fleeting light... well, these may just be the teachers who will have the best stories and the most to teach their students after summer's over.
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