Labored Days

It is Labor Day weekend here in the States, also known as the unofficial end of summer. It’s a melancholy time…memories of heading back to school, the smell of burning of leaves, a chill in the air, the coming of winter – but also of fresh starts. Of change. I am always a little sad over Labor Day weekend, but quietly hopeful, as well. Especially this year, as my life is about to become about nothing but change, and hope.

Also the three day weekend is always nice.

Today was also the last international match of the summer at Lord’s. England beat South Africa by six wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Now of course there is the fifth ODI at Nottingham to come, and the three T20s at Durham, Old Trafford, and Edgbaston, but the last match at Lord’s always gives me that “well, summer is well and truly over” feeling.

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I had a whole bit here about last matches of the summer at Lord’s, but the direction was not what I wanted to head in. Lord’s has hosted a lot of matches in late August, though most of them in the last 40 years or so. Tests against the West Indies, ODIs against Pakistan, the Ashes. In all of those matches surely the shadows were growing long and there was probably a chill in the air or if it was hot, it was that false, fleeting hot. Autumn heat is different than summer heat. The overall point being: the last match of summer at Lord’s always represents the beginning of autumn.

I mentioned in a previous post that I mark time by the Olympics, but I guess in a lot of ways sport overall marks time for me, as sad as that must sound. The last match at Lord’s means the end of summer; the World Series means a chill in the air and leaves under feet; the Boxing Day cricket and football represents the darkest, coldest days of winter; baseball’s opening day is wet, sloppy late spring; the FA cup final is brilliant early summer sunshine; and then there is the first international match of the summer at Lord’s and the skies are deep blue and high and it’s light out until 10pm and the whole world is alive with summer; and then the cycle starts all over again.

I talk a lot about what sport means to me on the blog, and I always mention how it all makes me feel a little silly sometimes. But it is nice to have something to mark the passage of time by. Some use holidays, or birthdays, or anniversaries, and I guess I use those, too. But special days only happen but once a year, while sport is, thanks to Sky and ESPN, a year long, daily, adventure. I guess what I am trying to say is that it is okay to let sport be important to you. Because it is more than just grown men chasing a ball around. It is time and the passage of time. It is aging. It is change. It is a fresh start. Nearly every single day we open ourselves up and let sport mark the time for us. And that’s not really a bad thing, I don’t think.

Today was late summer, Lord’s, Arsenal at Anfield.

It was not all that, of course, because it was other, more personal, things too. But we all mark time in different ways. When I look back on today, I will remember Podolski’s gut busting 70 yard run and his first Arsenal goal and I will feel the autumn heat on my shoulders and remember how it was during those last few bittersweet days in our current house.

I will remember Bell’s steady knock at Lord’s and I will feel the evening September chill and the hope that is change and fresh starts and autumn.

Time, marked.

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