It's hard to believe fall is just over the horizon ... or is it? Not that that's a bad thing. Short though it is, autumn in Wisconsin is one of the most enjoyable perks of living in a four-season climate.
Nevertheless, it's always bittersweet to bid summer adieu. Thankfully, we've got Labor Day weekend as a last hurrah of sorts. How do you plan to spend your long weekend? Here's what we're doing.
Molly Snyder Edler
We usually go to Atwater Beach in Shorewood either on Labor Day or the day before. I grew up going to this beach -- anyone remember the tram? -- and so it’s important to me that my kids experience this special place at least once a year. We go with a small group of friends and make a whole day of it, making sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, food, beach toys and cold beverages for the moms and dads. To me, despite what the calendar reads, Labor Day is the last day of summer, so I feel like I’m making the most of it by hanging out at the lake in the sand and sunshine. Well, hopefully there’ll be sunshine.
My mom's birthday is Sept. 4, so my Labor Days are usually spent doing something adventurous with her. Sometimes we opt for a weekend getaway (we went to New Mexico for her 50th and explored Santa Fe and Albuquerque), sometimes we bust out the kayaks for one last paddle down the Milwaukee River, or sometimes we do something crazy like get a piercing (it took my mom almost half a century before she got her ears pierced and I was thrilled to be there when she finally came around). So, that, I suppose it my Labor Day tradition -- hanging out with mom.
Maybe one of these years I'll be able to convince her to participate in my annual Memorial Day tradition, which is to host a cookout at which I force all the attendees into participating in a human pyramid. It's four years strong and each year it keeps getting bigger.
After spending much of the past 15 years in the press box and County Stadium and Miller Park, I can probably live the rest of my life without eating another of Milwaukee's signature sausages. But, there is something about Labor Day weekend that makes me crave a final brat as a farewell to summer. Usually, my dad will rally the family on Monday for one last cookout. I don't know if his mission is to empty the freezer or not, but brats are always on the menu. It's such a summer staple. I remember the first brat of the year, because it's a welcome sign of summer, and the last, because it's sort of a melancholy sendoff to cookout-friendly weather.
In terms of tradition, Labor Day and Memorial Day fall right along the same lines for me. Bookending the summer, I usually spend the day grilling out, either anticipating the start or lamenting the end of summer. Sitting in the backyard, I rarely choose to prepare the conventional burger and brats and instead opt for pizza, peaches or farmer's market finds on the grill.
I'm sorry to say that we don't have any Labor Day traditions at home, beyond not going to work that day. But we always enjoy the day off by grilling in the backyard or getting out to a state park for a hike. Sometimes we go to an orchard for apples and an early pumpkin or two. Maybe creating a Labor Day tradition should be the subject of a New Year's resolution for 2010. Camping? That's out, since everyone camps that weekend. I'd love your suggestions. Use the Talkback feature below, please.