EVEN for those who have long since ceased to measure out their lives in terms of semesters or academic years, there is something about September that fairly shouts, ``Back to school!'' Back to a higher level of energy, back to learning new things. The crispness in the air, already felt in New England and the Northeast, soon to reach further south, inspires brisker movement than either the searing heat or the demoralizing mugginess (depending on one's location) of summer. The fall is a time to take up new activities, reach out to friends out of touch over the summer, look forward to new offerings in the theaters and concert halls. And after summer's end, reading matter may be chosen more for the subject's substance than the ease with which the volume fits into the (already overstuffed) beach bag or carry-on.
The new year marked on everyone's calendar Jan. 1 would slip in unnoticed in the middle of the night if New Year's Eve parties weren't such an industry. But the renewal that September brings is much more tangible, and usually comes in broad daylight.
Of course, we have been speaking of the situation in the Northern Hemisphere; the austral spring is just beginning, and the academic year down under will run into December. Australians are more in sync with the larger scheme, since their school year runs in harmony with the calendar year, starting up in January.
Even in the US, where 37,000 school districts start up by Aug. 31 and the remaining 41,000 after Sept. 1, Labor Day weekend is the de facto end of summer -- a sort of caesura, two-thirds of the way through the year, a time to assess the experiences of the foregoing months, and for those of us past age 12, a time to marvel how tempus fugit. For some, September can be a time to make resolves for the remainder of the year as well -- what sort of progress, one may ask oneself, do I want to be able to report in my Christmas cards in December?
Never mind that, like the resolves of January, those of September are likely to be hardy perennials.