Editorial: Labour Day represents summer’s last gasp

After Labour Day, it's a head-down, straight-forward push towards Thanksgiving; the holiday that represents a hand grasp spurring the momentum that thrusts us through early winter to the Christmas-New Years break.

Although summer-like temperatures may remain during daylight hours, one can feel the change of season in the air once the sun sets. The sweet scent of autumn leaves begin to intermingle with the fire-pit and barbecue smoke in the evenings and the air is crisp and biting during the early morning hours.

It’s the Labour Day long weekend and almost everyone is trying to keep a fingertip-hold on what – this year – has been a hot, dry summer full of opportunity for outdoor activities. From Friday evening, Aug. 31 to Monday, Sept. 3, it seemed everyone was out basking in what remains of the Canadian Prairie summer. 

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Most everyone, that is. The region’s farmers are hard at work in the fields pulling in the year’s crops. Nevertheless, even they break for an afternoon knowing that, should they have a young family, the return to school means a head-down, straight-forward push towards Thanksgiving; the holiday that represents a hand grasp spurring the momentum that thrusts us through early winter to the Christmas-New Years break.

This may be the reason why Labour Day holds such a distinctive place in the calendar for Manitobans, Saskatchewanites and Albertans. In the agricultural, oil and associated industries, the time frame between now and freeze up is packed with responsibilities and the nagging feeling that we must bridle ourselves for another cold, snowy season. Last weekend was one last chance to kick off the boots, don the flip-flops and enjoy the sunshine we were lucky enough to experience.

In a way, we are taking summer for granted until Labour Day weekend arrives; basking mindlessly through July and August then bemoaning our poor fortune when Sept. 1 rolls into view.

For football fans, the weekend is a mid-season showdown between staunch rivals, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. There is a shift of Manitoba’s population to Regina on the Sunday afternoon, where the annual Labour Day Classic girds the bitterness between the two squads that stretches to the Banjo Bowl the following Saturday. At camping facilities like Oak Island Resort, Turtle Crossing, Grand Valley or Spruce Woods Provincial Park, screams of triumph and tribulation can be heard from both sides of the fan spectrum as Rider and Bomber fans intermingle for one last summer getaway.

If the wind is light and the temperature relatively warm – as it was last weekend – boaters rip across area lakes for one more ride before the watercrafts are winterized and stored for the next few months. And those with campers – many of whom are recovering from the previous day’s victory celebration or defeat mourning – use Monday for a final trailer clean up so they, too, can be set aside until the snow disappears and May, 2019 brings back the weather we, by that time, so richly crave. 

In a way, we are taking summer for granted until Labour Day weekend arrives; basking mindlessly through July and August then bemoaning our poor fortune when Sept. 1 rolls into view. It may be for this reason the holiday – once the official celebration of workers’ rights and freedoms won through the late 19th Century – has become the time of fire-pits, barbecues, cold beverages and thick, warm hoodies as we try with all our might to will summertime to stick around.

Considering the full-throttle mode of work and school through the next few months – alongside the annual crash of winter, which seems to make an appearance at will from late September to December – Prairie residents can hardly be blamed for making the Labour Day holiday what it has become. 

One, last, rip-roaring summer party.

© Copyright 2018 Westman Journal