Wednesday, September 13, 2017

22 Ways You Can Tell Back to School Time is Near....by Carol Ross & Amy Vastine



Remember that panicky feeling you’d get as a kid when you realized back to school time was near? For the past few weeks, summer lovers like Amy and me, have been lamenting the end of our favorite season. Even though it doesn’t technically come to a close until September 22, when back to school time settles upon us, we know the end is near.

Sitting around the table with my two sisters and my nephews for our annual first day back to school dinner last week, we started talking about that feeling, the very first indication that tells you it’s time to start sharpening your pencils and organizing your Pee Chees. (I hear they’re calling them binders these days.) Or maybe it wasn’t panic for you but excitement? Maybe you looked forward to heading back to school? But either way, something told you it was time, right?

This curiosity turned into a casual polling of friends and family members with such a fun variety of answers, we thought it would be fun to share. So with me polling people around here in Washington and Amy asking the same question in Illinois, here’s how it all shook out.

We asked: What’s the very first sign that tells you back to school time is near?

Alec, 13, WA – when leaves start crunching under my feet

Dawn, IL - Pre-season football reminds me that school is about to start as well as all the school supplies in the front of stores

Rayla, 7, WA – when the water gets cold in our swimming pool

Suzanne, 45, IL - the community pool's hours reduce because all the lifeguards are starting back to high school

Tammy, 50, WA – fresh apples in the grocery store

Andrakay, 26, ID – red and black fuzzy caterpillars

Eden, 40ish (she's never quite sure), IL - the only thing I notice and appreciate is the quiet in my house

Dan, 67, WA – the yellow jackets start biting


Sherry, IL - The glass and smell of freshly waxed floors at school and football- football always reminds me of back to school!

Ashley, 15, OR – my mom gets happy

Anne, IL - when you get stuck on the way to work behind a bus on the back road where it stops at every house

Sue, 50ish, WA – back to school ads in the newspaper

Julie, 49, IL - When you feel and smell the crisp autumn breeze and hear the sound of cicadas

Olivia, 6, WA – when there’s a chill in the air

Mark, 53, WA – My birthday is August 19 and that has always signified the shift for me.

Melissa, 40, IL - school supplies at Target!

Ethan, 17, WA – Waking up in the morning to find that my mom has gone to the school and left me a big to-do list of things that need to be done before school starts. (Ethan’s mom is a teacher.)

Korgin, 6, WA – when my brain has to start working again

Keith, 91, WA – Cars start parking in the school parking lot, which has been mostly empty all summer

Shelly, 55, WA – canning peaches

Amy - Since I work in a school, it would be my alarm going off at 5:30 in the morning that clearly signals the start of back-to-school! But I also LOVE football and with the beginning of school comes my favorite Friday night activity - watching my son play ball. 


Carol – For me, it’s the appearance of those winged termites outside. I know that probably sounds odd, but we used to capture them in Mason jars in the days before school started. We’d collect a big bunch and then let them go. I have no idea why we did this but when I see them outside I still get that “feeling.”

What generates that feeling of back to school panic, or excitement, in you? Did you, or do you, look forward to heading back to school or dread it?

For more information about Carol or Amy, please visit their websites: 





29 comments:

  1. I loved this post, ladies! For me, the sound of crickets always bring back memories of going back to school.

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    1. Thanks, Jill. The sound of crickets is a good reminder as well!

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  2. A very fun post, Carol and Amy. I especially liked Ethan's comment about the list of chores
    left by his school teacher mother! When I was a teacher, my end of summer anxiety started showing up in mid to late August when I'd have nightmares about arriving at school in my pyjamas. Nowadays, the signs I notice are crickets at night, crisp mornings and yes to the new fresh apples! Clearly we all love September, in spite of the return to school or work.

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  3. Ladies, this is the most brilliant post ever! Some of those responses cracked me up...like...'my mom gets happy'. LOL. For me there's a feeling in the air that comes from a mix of temperature drop, the scent of ripened fruit on trees, morning fog and drizzle and the first leaves changing colors...and a quiet house. Oh, and my counter tops overflowing with peaches and apples from our trees that need preserving if we don't gobble them up first. I also pack lunches so, even if I'm an early bird year round, when I have to pull out the lunch boxes every morning, that September feeling really sinks in ;).

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    1. Thank you, Rula! Some of them cracked me up, too. I like little Korgin saying his brain has to start working again, Lol. I know that feeling/scent in the air! You described it exactly.

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  4. I loved reading all the signs of back to school. It made me a little sad, because some of them I can relate to from my childhood. The crisp fall air, two-a-days start on the football field. Now that I work at a year round school, I start back to school in July, so I really miss that "It's fall, time to go to school!" feeling.

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    1. I didn't know you taught at a year-round school! I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. You should do a blog post about it. That would be kind of weird to have that feeling in July!

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  5. Ladies, what a brilliant post to be the jounalists, gathering interviews. My first sighting of back to school is the change in the evening light...the sun appears to slant differently at the very end of August and early September. Chrysanthemums are being sold in every store in town, even the mini-mart gas stations! By mid-September, the temperatures have dropped, I have trees changing colors, the crickets are auditioning for the New York Philharmonic around here. And the golf course is PACKED with golfers who hate the summer heat and are anxious to get in those last rounds before the rains of October and the November snows. In the distance, across the golf course is the sound of the High School marching band practicing after school. On Friday nights, I can hear the announcer shouting out the plays from the high school football field. In a couple weeks, there will be the smell of woodsmoke from my chimney and those of my neighbors.

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    1. Oh, oh, the hoots from the football game. We don't have an announcer but I hear the fans from where I live, too.

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    2. Catherine, You said all of this so beautifully! And you are so right about the evening light. It is different and so gorgeous. I have a wood stove, too, and it's one of the things I look forward to about fall.

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  6. Strangely for me, this year is about not-going-back-to-school, since I decided to focus on my writing. But Back-to-school brings a feeling of newness back to a season of endings.

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    1. There is definitely a new-beginning kind of feeling to fall. I hope the writing is going well!

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  7. I like that new-beginning feeling a lot, too. And seeing the school buses on the road--I don't know WHY I like that, but I do.

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    1. Liz, I often complain about the rain and cold of winter but I think I'd miss the new beginning feeling each season brings if I didn't have it.

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  8. A very nostalgic post for me, ladies. Since I taught school for many years, I now feel a little sad when school starts without me, but I'm enjoying retirement.

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    1. Oh, Patricia, I can only imagine how that would feel! My two sisters are teachers and they're both so incredibly busy this time of year. It probably feels odd not to have that. I'm glad you're able to enjoy your retirement. I know people who haven't adjusted well when their work life comes to an end.

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  9. There's nothing quite like the sight of notebooks in stores--untouched and ready to go. Everyone in my family growing up and now with my adult kids agree that a blank notebook is linked with September and fresh starts. According to many business gurus and consultants it's also the best time of year, psychologically, anyway, to set goals for the coming year--even better than Jan 1. It's because of the back to school mindset and new beginnings. Thanks for the fun post!

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    1. Virginia, I love this! I didn't know that about the goal setting, but I really feel it this time of year! I think it might be my most productive time. I want to do everything from home improvement to fall cleaning to writing a hundred different books!

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  10. I'm beyond feeling back to school panic. But I still love watching the kids walking to school, catching the school bus, etc. It also means fall is near and I love fall weather. What I don't like is having to slow down to 15 mph at every school crossing. LOL

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    1. You can tell how much I dreaded school, Roz, because I still get twinges of that feeling. LOL. Those crossings get me, too. It always takes me a while to get used to the slow-down.

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  11. I was a geek and couldn't wait to get back to school (even tho I wasn't the best student ). What a great idea for a post, you guys. <3 As I have no kids, my favorite thing about back to school time are the school supplies! Time to stock up on pens and notebooks (I'm like a junkie with office and stationary supplies, LOL).

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    1. Anna, I imagined you being valedictorian! I love school supplies, too. I think that was the best thing about going back to school. I always enjoyed being there after I was there, it was the just the going back that was difficult. )I missed the summer fun.)

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  12. I loved getting back to school. We started the Tuesday after Labor Day. Nowadays, kids here start the first day of August. That's too hot for school! lol

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    1. Patricia, That's when we went back to school, too. I don't school should ever start until after Labor Day. It really cheats kids out of the best part of summer, in my opinion.

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  13. I lived in the country, so I was always excited to get back to school where I'd be around friends. I still get excited when I see folders, pencils, and notebooks on display and feel the need to stock up. We now have a lifetime supply of spiral notebooks.

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    1. I lived in the country, too, Beth. But luckily, it was more of a country community. My best friend lived across the street. (She's still my bff.) But I hear you about the school supplies. I love a spiral-bound notebook and a good #2 very sharp pencil, both of which I use in my writing life now.

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  14. haha, I laughed at the "happy mom" indicator.
    Here in AZ, my son's been in school a month. School starts in August. Insane, I know.
    I love buying new school supplies. Alas, my son doesn't care if his binder is dull white and his pencils are blah yellow.

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    1. That one made me laugh, too, Pam! It does seem insane to start in August. Back in the day it seems like we never started before Labor Day. I think it's probably a good thing your son is not picky. It must simplify the back to school shopping trip.

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