Transitions to Fall

There is plenty to love about summer: the warm temperatures, long days and relaxed atmosphere. For people on college campuses, the parking is much easier and it seems less hectic than during the fall and spring semesters.

Summer is not technically over until the autumnal equinox on Sept. 23, but with students arriving on campus and the cooler-than-normal temperatures, it feels like fall already. I like the clean-slate feeling to the start of the fall semester.

Next year, my daughter will start kindergarten, and the end of summer will take on new meaning. She recently asked what comes after kindergarten, and I tried not to frighten her by listing all the grades through 12 and beyond. It does sound daunting from a four-year-old’s perspective.

For now, I’ll savor my own start-of-school memories, like buying new school supplies and meeting new classmates and teachers. In college, there was the drive to campus, packing and unpacking, moving all the stuff into a residence hall and wondering if my Dad could possibly sweat more when waiting for the elevator for multiple trips to my room. I remember buying my first computer at the University Center. It was one of those “new” Macs with the really small screen, which was only good for writing papers. There was no Internet or email at the time.

While classes were important to me, what I really looked forward to most was Saturday and home football games at Neyland Stadium. At that time, students had to wait in line for tickets. You got whatever seat you got, way up in the upper deck or down in section D or E behind the team. (I got a ticket for section D, row 5 for the monsoon-like 1992 Florida game, in which the Vols won.)

What I liked most about football was being with 100,000 people wearing orange and cheering for the same team. I had never experienced anything like that before, and it made me feel like I was part of something greater than myself. That atmosphere is hard to replicate outside a large sporting event. It is hard to get people as excited as they are at a football at something more important and influential such as a fundraiser, rally or budget hearing.

I can’t predict what may happen in the next 14 years before my daughter hopefully becomes a college freshman. We don’t know how much college might change or who will play football. But I sure hope we can still feel the difference between summer and fall.

(P.S. Thanks to The Daily Beacon, pictured above, for the annual tangible reminder of the new semester beginning.)