The scene outside our door shows the last summer traffic jam as people head to the lake on Highway 65 for one last long weekend before the leaves begin to fall. I looked at the parade of vehicles and felt both thankful I wasn't in that congestion, and a little bummed I wasn't going anywhere for the long weekend.

It did jog a memory from my childhood. We used to take two trips over the course of the summer. One would be a trip to Connecticut to visit my Grandma and my Uncle Brian. Usually in late June or early July. And that end of summer getaway for three or four days right before Labor Day.

I never felt sad after returning from Connecticut.  It felt good to be back home. Good to get back into the routine of playing wiffle ball with my friends in the back yard. Listening to the radio in my room at night. Or in high school hanging out on Kevin's stoop with my friends.

That end of summer getaway. Usually to Kansas City, except for a couple of years when we went to Omaha because my Uncle Matt was living there, always gave me a little bit of a sad feeling when we returned home.

The vacation itself was always fun. There were Royals games. A tour of the city. Time in the hotel pool. Pizza-Hut for dinner one night. Things we didn't do at home. And it felt like summer in the late August Kansas City heat.

Then I'd wake up on the fourth morning and it was done. We'd be hustling our cooler and our luggage out to the car before the sun was up. And off we went. Usually stopping at a McDonald's near Six Flags St. Louis as we headed back to the Chicago suburbs on I-70, then I-55.

It'd usually be on the night we'd return home that I'd feel that sad feeling that told me summer was over. I'd be watching the carnival from my front lawn, which came to our church right across from our house at the end of the summer. The lights and screams and voices coming from across the street. I'd notice it getting darker earlier. The heat of the day more easily giving in to the coolness of the night. I knew in a couple more days the carnival would be gone and school would start.

I hadn't felt that end of summer sadness since high school until this year. I felt it the last night our stations were out at the fair. After we gave out the last of our T-shirts and goodies to fair goers. Announced the last show from the Pepsi Grandstand. Put away our tent for the last time. It was then I noticed darkness creeping in a little earlier than I expected. And I was sad summer was over. I felt that twinge again today watching everyone try to squeeze one last summer weekend at the lake.


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