Every year after Labor Day, my mind drifts to Don Henley and his ’80s hit single, The Boys of Summer. I think of it as I walk the kids to school. As I drive past the roads that took us to their summer activities. As I discard the expiring lunch foods, no one is home to eat – the yogurts, the cheese sticks, the half-cut watermelon.
With his iconic lyrics on the end of summer playing through my head, I picture a deserted beach. Still bright, still warm, but empty. I think of this while I push the grocery cart past displays of Halloween candy and launder the last of the beach towels as I store the beach bags, goggles, and water shoes back in the closet. And I can’t help but wonder.
Is there anywhere lonelier than a beach town after summer?
As a Connecticut native, I should be used to this scene. New England summers are glorious, but they are also notoriously short. The smell of sunscreen mixed with bug spray, the sweetness of a summer lobster roll, and the pink and purple brushstrokes of the sunset from a bonfire on the beach. All of it is as fleeting as the fireflies that dance in our front yard for a few precious weeks each July.
And yet each year, as the calendar flips to September, while many gear up for pumpkin lattes and denim, I find myself yearning for just a few more beach days. Just one more summer lobster roll. One final dive into the ocean.
So for all my fellow beach lovers, I’m sharing a few ways we keep summer alive all September. Because fall doesn’t arrive until September 22. And summer is one season I refuse to rush.
1. Take Day Trips and Long Weekends to Summer Destinations
The only thing hotter than the July sand may be the I-95 pavement. With the secret out on the magic of New England summers, traffic during peak summer months can be unbearable. Because of this, we save most getaways for September, when hotel rates are lower and roads easier to travel. Favorite destinations include Mystic, Newport, Cape Cod, and Portsmouth, NH. We’ve found that in September, most seasonal restaurants and shops are still open and many state beaches, such as Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, no longer require parking fees. And with the weather bringing warm days with less humidity, September often feels like the best summer month of all.
2. If It’s Warm, Head to the Water
During the summer, you can usually find our family swimming, sailing, or playing at the beach. But after Labor Day, our schedule often starts to fill with sports practices and birthday parties, and extracurricular activities, making it harder to squeeze in time to enjoy those final summer days. To compensate for this, we schedule our summer fun into the calendar. We block off afternoons for sailing or swimming when the weather looks promising. And we also plan ahead, packing coolers instead of relying on snack bars and checking town websites to confirm bathroom availability.
3. Keep Eating Al Fresco
Outdoor dining is one of the joys of summer. Yet September can bring cool evenings and hungry yellow jackets ready to swarm your plate. To combat this, we limit outdoor lunches to picnics devoid of bee delicacies (ketchup and watermelon seem to be their favorites) and save most of our dinner dining for evenings when bees are less active. We also fill our car with a stash of jackets, so we’re always ready for a post-dinner ice cream stop, just like in July.
4. Save Your Flannel For the Fifties
I get it. After a few months of living in shorts, breaking out a flannel shirt and waltzing through an apple orchard can be exciting. But I refuse to dress for fall or visit an orchard until the temperature starts to dip. Sure, I may take out a few pairs of pants to get us through cooler mornings, but most of our fall clothing stays tucked away until the pumpkins come out. Because while New England summers are short, New England winters are long. And I know come May, I won’t just be ready to pack up my flannels; I’ll be ready to burn them.
5. Plan a Warm Weather Vacation
Every year there comes that day in September when we’re trying to swim, and we must admit it’s just too cold. Sometimes it creeps up on us, a breeze that chills our skin, an afternoon that doesn’t warm as quickly as the one before. Other times the summer sun sets, and the harvest moon rises, bringing with it a current of cool, crisp air. That’s when I shed a few tears, buy a pumpkin latte, and retreat to my computer to research tropical destinations. Some years we book a winter trip, other years we think about it. But just the process of looking seems to quell my sadness long enough to button a flannel and head to a farm for some pumpkins and cider doughnuts.
While summer may be my favorite season, there is a lot to love about fall too. Just as long as it doesn’t bring snow. Because me and snow? Well, that relationship is a lot more complicated.