In a new community, a new home, in September

by John Pixley

“When will this hot weather end?” I wondered. “I’m so tired of it.”

I was getting ready for bed one night last week, and something much more than the day and all its activity was weighing in on me. I was tired—literally—of the summer heat.

It wasn’t just one night, though. I had made this complaint on a number of nights recently. And I was more likely to complain at night. The nights seemed to be even hotter than the days.

But as I kept trying to remind myself, this isn’t unusual for September. This is “Fair weather,” after all. For as long as I can remember, the story has been that some of the region’s hottest weather comes when the Los Angeles County Fair is in Pomona during September.

However, that doesn’t mean that it is still summer. Even the hotter nights—what’s up with that?—aren’t a sign that summer will continue.

In fact, although the calendar says that fall doesn’t arrive for a few days, everything else says that summer has been long gone around here.

Things are well underway at the colleges, with the students now in their second week of classes. Imagine that. Already 2 weeks of school will be done. It is more than too late. There is no doubt, according to another old Claremont story, at least one kid from back east who has called home in desperation, if not tears, saying a terrible mistake has been made after a campus visit on a gorgeous, cool February day with flowers blooming and snow on the mountains in the background.

The return of the college students also means the return of lectures and performances and, before we know it, there will be more than we know what to do with.

And the college students started classes positively late this year. The Claremont public schools beat them by a week, starting not only before Labor Day but also, for the third year, in late August. What’s that about? (Perhaps it means more vacation days during the school year, like a week off at Thanksgiving—a big change from my days in Claremont schools.) A friend of mine says starting school before September is unnatural.

Actually, this was late. Another friend who teaches in Pomona had her first day of school 2 weeks earlier. And the school in Montclair not far from my house started on something like August 8. How’s that for unnatural?

It looks like August is the new September, with The Colleges lagging a bit this year.

In any case, despite the heat and what the calendar says, summer is gone and has been for some time. Equinox or not, fall is well under way here in Claremont.

What this means is a new start. This is certainly evident in Claremont, with the influx of thousands of students and all the activities and events now scheduled on the campuses. But this is more than just a new start, more than just a new school year.

In Claremont, September—or August—means finding a new community, a new home.

This was evident in the recent story in these pages about 2 brothers starting off at new schools. The article focused on the ol, who not only was a freshman at Claremont High School but was attending a public school for the first time. With the teenager getting to know his way around and seeing old friends and meeting lots of new people, this was definitely a case of someone finding his place in a new community, a new home. Such is also the case for the new students at the colleges. Whether they like the heat or not, whether they are wondering about their decision to come here, they are very much in a new community, quite literally a new home. (In some cases, the new home has been spiffed up, as at Pomona College, with its elegant new signs—even if they make the campus look like a living history museum where I expect young women with long dresses and parasols and young men with coats and top hats to appear.)

The same goes for all the new teachers in Claremont, setting up classes for the first time—or the first time anywhere. But also for all the students and teachers. Even if returning to the same school where they’ve been for several years, they have found themselves in new classes, with a whole new set of people to get to know and interact with. They have found themselves in a new community, a new home.

I think the rest of us feel the same way, after a summer of doing different things, letting things go a lot or a little and perhaps being at loose ends. We are getting into routines, some of them new and some of them involving new people.

I know that, after making 3 wonderful trips to northern California this summer, I’m ready to be here, at home, for a while. I’m ready to see what new things I find, what new people I meet, as Claremont starts a new year this September.

And I’m ready for some new weather.


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