An end-of-summer finale | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Sep 13, 2017

Labor Day, 2017. It’s evening and nearly dark outside. The temperature is lower on my deck than inside; I forgot to close my west-facing slider this afternoon. By the time I closed it, the heat was oppressive. With two small fans, it will be midnight by the time it’s cool. In the meantime, it’s perfect outdoors, so I sit outside writing.

I’m remembering summers in north-central Washington and winters in Arizona, where I lived in air-conditioned comfort. I recall the year my husband and I decided to check out Arizona in June, just to see what it would be like. I forgot what our reasoning was on that; it certainly doesn’t sound like our best idea.

When we opened the door to our small Arizona casita, the indoor temperature was 98 degrees. We gasped, turned on the air-conditioning, hurried back out to the car, drove to our favorite nearby café for dinner and sat for two hours in cool comfort.

It took me three days during that visit to adjust to the heat, to the dash from car across radiant parking lots into an air-conditioned restaurant or church or library. Ah, the library! On that June trip, I returned to the cool comfort of the nearby Maricopa County library branch, for several years my winter library.

Sometimes I’d look up from reading or writing and gaze out at the sandy landscape beyond the great windows. Occasionally, I’d see a coyote lope past. I’ve kept my Maricopa County library card, which won’t surprise anyone who knows me.

It’s been quite a while since I lived in an air-conditioned home. I suppose many multiunit older buildings in Edmonds lack air-conditioning, but I think it’s a luxury not too difficult to live without in our usually much cooler Pacific Northwest climate. This summer was exceptional, and this Labor Day weekend continued the heat.

Of course, when I was a kid, I could hop on my bike and go cool off at the beach. In a few minutes, I could ride to the Edmonds Boat House, north of the ferry dock, where my friend Jeane Jacobsen lived with her family. If it was a not-too-busy day, her father sometimes dragged a rowboat onto the dolly that transported boats up and down the slanting rails leading to the water.

Jeane and I would hop in and ride the boat down the rails, feel it settle into the water and blissfully row back and forth in the sunshine.

On this Labor Day, Edmonds beaches provided families one last before-school-starts opportunity to hang out in the sun, enjoy the morning sandbars of low tide and run and splash in the shallow water as other people, further out, enjoyed paddleboards and kayaks.

Kids built sandcastles, toddlers practiced walking (adorably) in the sand and young boys kicked inflated plastic balls around, soccer-style.

As noon approached, picnic lunches came out and families sheltered under umbrellas or slathered on more sunscreen and stayed out in the sun. No one appeared to have an interest in going home anytime soon. A friend and I sat on a log for a long time, chatting, bare feet in the sand, watching activity on the fishing pier and on the beach around us.

Labor Day provided a sunny end-of-summer finale. And yet, I hope at some point grownups thought to tell their children that Labor Day, an American holiday since the late 19th century, is a tribute to American workers.

Labor Day calls attention to the importance of better working conditions, fair wages, reasonable hours, workplace safety and the opportunity to be heard, all of which are central to an America claiming liberty and justice for all.


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