Laboring on Labour Day

by Mary Jo
Blooming deck 1
It's Labor Day, and I'm laboring. <G> I need to complete a late book in the next few days (there's a plague of that amongst the Wenches!) so that means typing as fast as my inaccurate fingers can manage and hoping it makes sense.  After I've transferred the book from my computer to my editor's, I shall quietly slink off the grid for a couple of weeks and not look at any electronic screens and not labor at all.

The labor of many, many people is what has built civilization and as such, it's well worth celebrating labor in genera.  However, our holiday of Labor Day (Labour Day in Canada) is specifically a celebration of organized labor, which is to say unions.  In 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed into law the bill that made Labor Day an official national holiday, though by this time, 30 states had already established Labor Day as state holidays. (Oregon was the first to do so.)  The parade shown here was in 1882 in New York City.   LaborDayParade, NYC 1882

The traditional ways of celebrating Labor Day are parades, picnics, backyard barbeques, and shopping.  The drawback of it being a major shopping holiday is that people who work in retail tend to labor rather than relax but with luck, they at least get time and a half pay for working on a holiday.  

Labor Day is also one of the endings to summer and beginnings of autumn.  There are several ends, actually.  Astronomical autumn is the fall equinox, generally about September 22, when day and night hours are virtually equal around the world.  (Of course, the autumnal equinox is the spring, vernal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere, but the day and night hours are still equal.

Rampant deck flowersThere is also meteorological autumn, which begins September 1st.  That date belongs to the weather folk and it's when the weather starts tilting from summer to fall.  (Though usually not until one last heat wave has passed!)  

Gardens are making their last wild display before autumn sneaks in.  My deck flowers look like vaudeville floozies, beautiful and overdone.  

And then there is Labor Day, which could be called the social end of summer. Vacations are ending, students are returning to school, traffic gets heavier, and there is generally a greater sense of purpose as we settle down to Real Work.

So what are you doing this Labor Day?  Laboring, shopping, marching, or best of all, spending time with friends and family even if the burgers are maybe a little charred?  

And is there anything you'd rather be doing?  <G>

Mary Jo, returning to her labors because "Happily Ever After" doesn't come easily!

As Summer Labors To An End . . .


Pullman strikeCara/Andrea here,

As you know we Wenches like to talk about history, so it seems right to start off today with a small snippet on the
Rose hiporigins of Labor Day here in the U.S. (For our international readers, the first Monday of September is celebrated as a national holiday to honor the achievements of the American worker.)

The late 1880s were not a great time to be toiling in the United States—the average worker put in 12-hour days, seven days a week, and many children as young as six and seven were employed in mills and mines. As unions formed to agitate for better working conditions, the clashes between workers and businesses sometimes turned ugly.

Golf shadowPerhaps one of the most infamous examples was the Pullman strike in 1894, when labor leader Eugene V, Debs called for a nationwide Pullman strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives. With the railroads crippled, the federal government intervened, sending federal troops to Chicago to break the strike. In the ensuing riots, over a dozen workers were killed. It was to calm working-class sentiment that the government quickly recognized “Labor Day,” a celebration that had been gaining momentum in a number of states, as an official federal holiday later that same year.

BerriesBut on a lighter note, this weekend is also celebrated as the end of summer, with lots of parties, parades and general merriment before everyone buckles back down to school and the office routine. Of course, it’s always a little sad to see summer, with its long lazy days and laid-back pace, end. But as I look back, I’m smiling over the nice times I had over the last few months. Here are a few snapshots of the highlights of my summer fun. (Top to bottom: the flowers on the beach lagoon near where I live; I love walking in early evening during the summer and fix plot twists as I play golf; my wild raspberries which recovered from Hurricane Sandy to ripen in July;
RWAseeing fellow Wenches Mary Jo and Jo at RWA in July, where Mary Jo was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award; an August  NYC get-together with my best friends from college.

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So what about you? What’s one of your favorite memories from this past summer? Did you travel anywhere special? Meet with old friends? Read a memorable book? Please share!