August 18, 2010 Edition

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Summer's end

John Bland
Publisher

As if on cue, Northeast Arkansas' temperatures dropped about 10 degrees Monday, down to the low 90s after several days of highs around 100 degrees. Schools start Thursday around the state, so the drop was most welcome and none too early.

Walnut Ridge High School football head coach Larry Treadway said this year's summer football practice, which began about two and a half weeks ago, saw some of the hottest temperatures he could remember for summer practices. The summer of 1980 was another hot one, he recalled.

Whether the weather changes, or not, the start of a new school year brings a distinct change in the lives and daily rhythm of much of the population. Sure, there will be more weeks of swimming and other hot weather activity, but schedules, activities, even traffic patterns, will be changing.

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I like a distinct, notable change in the seasons with enough variety to make each one different. Seasonal sports help with that variety. During the summer vacation months, a lot of people are out of their regular routines, missing regular weekly meetings, events or church activities, some of which also take a summer hiatus. A lot of people go to interesting places or do interesting things they don't have the time or opportunity to do the rest of the year.

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Our daughter, Anna, said she could sum up her summer with three special highlights, among several others. They included attending the Tri-State Summer Press Convention with her family, a long weekend in New Orleans and "Night Driving" with her Brooklyn, N.Y., cousins who left Sunday after an eight-day visit here.

Renee coined the term "Night Driving" as an activity for the cousins when a movie didn't sound appealing. Anna had recently obtained her restricted driver's permit, and James and Cullen have also been learning to drive. Eastern Lawrence County offers a much better practice locale for a beginning driver than does New York City.

Night Driving provided a little freedom for the teens, with the added benefits of a treat from the drive-in and some recorded tunes on a CD. A passing vehicle and an armadillo skittering into our path made for a real-life driving challenge that was well handled by Cullen.

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Harper Lee's ever-popular Southern novel, "To Kill A Mockingbird," which is 50 years old this year, captures the passing of summer and seasons well. Scout and Jem, along with a young boy named, Dill, who is visiting his aunt in Maycomb, Ala., for the summer, have countless summer adventures. An adult Scout narrating the movie, says, "The summer that had begun so long ago had ended, and another summer had taken its place. And a fall."

Likewise for us, our summer activities and plans have come and passed, visitors have left and our routines are changing. The summer has ended.

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