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Why is vacation over before summer is?

By MICHELE MILLER
Published August 17, 2006


Summer's over.

At least for those of us who are somehow linked to the goings-on of the public school system here in Florida. Let's face it, the Sunshine State may be thought of as an also-ran when thinking of things like fashion and voting technology, but when it comes to starting the school year, we're trendsetters.

Some say it's all about preparing for the FCAT or having exams out of the way before the winter break. It's all for the kids. Still, in the 15 years since I moved here, the school year has steadily inched backward, encroaching on those kid-friendly, hazy, lazy days of summer.

Unless you're one of those way-organized, think-ahead types, it just doesn't seem right to be doing your back-to-school shopping in July.

Off-balanced and out of sorts was how I was feeling as the 15-year-old and I rummaged through department store clothes racks on the last tax-free shopping day in search of dress code-friendly T-shirts. Note to department store clothing buyers: In the future, please keep in mind that teenage cleavage is a public school no-no.

As our purchases were rung up, my mind was off with the fireflies in the cool mountains of western North Carolina. That's where my family had vacationed the week before, hiking supposedly easy trails to beautiful waterfalls where the views of a cascading river and your two daughters learning to skim stones in the rippled pool below can be equally splendid.

So now we're heading into the second week of school and my inner clock is still keeping time with the Memorial-to-Labor Day summer calendar that I grew up with - the one it seems almost everyone else in the Northern Hemisphere follows.

"What, already?" is the typical response I get from the New England folks whose present lament is how bad the summer weekend traffic is on the trek to and from that cottage rental on Cape Cod.

Believe it or not, the morning news shows based in New York City are still featuring segments on summer food, fashion and such. And while your local newspaper has been reporting on the first day of school - and, okay, anything going on at Bucs training camp - others are reading a Canadian Press report about how a "Summer Storm Spawned 8 Twisters" in Ontario.

Those taking a gander at the Kommersant Daily learned that Russian President Vladimir Putin was opening the rural summer games in central Russia last week.

The Associated Press reported that "University of Alabama student Rob Berryman is having a good summer" because he won more than $300,000 playing Texas hold'em. And it seems that some folks in Greenwich, Conn., are happy with the summer-school curriculum.

Even here, the 90-degree-plus temperatures and my burnt lawn are telling me we're a little out of synch.

It just feels wrong.

But next year it looks like we're in for a more typical summer span since the governor made it a law that Florida public schools can't start any earlier than two weeks before Labor Day. It's a compromise I guess I can live with.

In the meantime, I think I'll just hang out with those fireflies for a little bit longer - at least till Labor Day.

 

Michele Miller can be reached at (727) 869-6251 in west Pasco or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6251. Her e-mail address is miller@sptimes.com.