Well, dear readers, by the time this issue comes out, Labor Day will have come and gone. Although we still have a couple of weeks left on the calendar, Labor Day serves as the unofficial end of summer.

You know, Labor Day is my most hated holiday of the whole year. In fact, it’s the only one. There are several reasons for this. For 48 years of my life, it meant the start of another school year. As a little kid, I can remember sitting there watching Jerry Lewis on television and feeling miserable. It’s been 15 years since back-to-school has meant anything to me. Even so, I still get a bit of that cold dread at the base of my spine.

Labor Day is also closing time for a lot of neat summer things, like ice cream stands and dirt tracks. Worst of all, though, is the realization that the nice, warm weather is just about finished. To tell you the truth, I think that the birds really have something in the notion of heading south for the winter. I know a number of people who do that, too, and I certainly don’t blame them a bit.

There are, however some nice things about this time of year. The cicadas, some of which hatch every year, are singing their swan song. While it’s actually kind of pretty, it carries with it a sound of death. It won’t be too long until the leaves start to look really great. New England has always been famous for autumn leaves, but I can’t believe that they can beat our area on that score. If you want some great leaf pictures, try The Narrows above East Brady. For even better pics, get in a boat and take them from the river.

Joggers and walkers also have something to cheer about at this time of year. This was an exceptionally hot summer, and outdoor exercise was often nothing short of brutal. With the cooler temperatures of autumn, things get a lot better. It’s a great time to be on a bicycle, too.

And that ain’t all. As the waters cool, the fishing in all waterways has a tendency to pick up, especially where panfish are concerned. Therefore, despite the misery, and it is misery, of the end of summer, there is still some good angling to be had. Lake Arthur’s crappies seem to go on a feeding spree. I’ve had some of my best catches in September. The bluegills and perch usually hit well, too. I’ve read that they are packing away the calories in preparation for the upcoming winter. This pattern also holds true in Pymatuning Lake, especially where the crappies are concerned. Small minnows are the only baits I use, and they usually do very well for me. As for the Allegheny River, the walleye bite always seems to pick up in late September and October. For some reason these delicious fish seem to turn off a bit when the weather is hot. In the fall, they make up for lost eating time. I plan to take advantage of that.

In the hunting arena, things are starting to pick up. This is the time of year that makes dove hunters smile a lot. Although I’ve tried many times over the years, I just never developed the ability to hit these winged speedsters with any consistency. For those who can, however, there is some great fun in store.

Well, you have to give me credit. I’ve done my very best to put a positive spin on September. Regardless, for a shorts and flip-flops guy like me, it’s still pretty depressing.

[Chris Henderson has been writing articles and columns for many years. He lives in Brady’s Bend with his son, Ray and his cat, Maggie.]

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