I’m purposely going to keep it light this week. Today, as I write this, school begins, but for some reason, not everyone has left the building, so to speak. Why is high school starting at ten o’clock on the first day? That’s a question I haven’t been able to get an answer to and one that will perplex me all day, but I’m just going to go with it. Child #2 left at his appointed seven twenty-five this morning, his lunch sitting atop the kitchen counter. Husband took off a little past that, and child #1 remains here, the ten o’clock witching hour fast approaching. Soon, it will just be me, the dog, and the cat, and a basement full of water if this morning’s rainfall is any indication of what’s ahead.
So, summer is over, and with it goes all of Maggie’s bad habits. I see the beginning of school as being more of a chance to break old routines and enjoy some new ones than I do the beginning of a new calendar year. Despite having begun a walking regimen this summer that amounted to anywhere between eighteen and twenty-five miles per week, I have not lost a pound. Truth be told, I probably gained a few. So today begins the healthy eating program, a declaration that makes my family groan in dismay. Out are the homemade trays of macaroni and cheese, the ones that harden your arteries with just one glance in their direction, and in is the whole wheat pasta, organic beans, and lots of salad. The case of wine I just bought? Well, we’re saving that for a dinner party or a special occasion. Cracking open a bottle every night and remarking on the rich texture of the Chilean Chardonnay or the fruity undertones of the Argentinian Malbec is a thing of the past. Sparkling water or lemon-lime seltzer is now de rigeur. And the Magnum ice cream bars—the ones that I had coupons for and which were practically free? Bye-bye. The family in this household has seen their last richly decorated box, their last gold-covered ice cream bar.
Summer should be a time of healthy eating and outdoor activity but I find that it’s really just a constant round of barbecues, parties, and celebrations. Everything centers around food, or frozen cocktails, or delicious desserts. Sure, we’ve got our wonderful corn on the cob and Jersey tomatoes, but when you serve them with country-style barbecue ribs or a thick, juicy flank steak, the calorie quotient gets amped up considerably. And even though we’re moving into braised meat season—pot roast, beef stew, sauerbraten—it doesn’t compare to fried chicken and potato salad or any of the other wonderful summer meals that my friends—all fantastic cooks—put together. We socialize a lot and eat even more.
The beginning of school, consequently, signals a return to less excess and more rigor, and truth be told, it feels good. Does anyone out there have similar feelings about the end of summer and the beginning of school? Are you glad to get back to the routine that September brings?