There's something scary about Labor Day: It has long been considered the unofficial end of summer.
Fall doesn't officially start until the autumnal equinox, which this year is Sept. 22. And it's well known by any Minnesotan — especially kids crowded into schoolrooms with no air conditioning — that it still can get plenty hot in September.
Besides, Minnesotans consider the changing of seasons to be, at most, a minor inconvenience.
We scoff at the idea of surrendering our freewill to the calendar.
Except when it comes to Labor Day.
On the first Monday in September, a near-palpable angst spreads across the state, fueled by throngs of Minnesotans getting out of bed and wailing, "This is it: the last day of summer." And then we are forced to confront the horrifying fact that most of those summerish things we looked forward to doing back on Memorial Day — the unofficial start of season — still remain undone.
Following this logic to its panic-induced conclusion, we have one day left in which to cross off as many things on our summer bucket list as possible. It's not going to be easy, and it's going to require planning.
To that end, we've taken the liberty of scheduling the day for you. It's busy, but if you keep focused — and keep motivating yourself with the mantra "Winter is coming, winter is coming" — you can get through it all.
7 a.m. Rise early in order to be part of the morning rush at the farmers market so you can have your pick of the best produce. They sell lots of healthy stuff there. The good news is that they also sell pastries and coffee.
8 a.m. Go for a run around one of the city lakes. You probably should have gotten in shape for this first, but it's too late now.
8:45 a.m. Visit the emergency room to see if they can do something about the cramping in your legs. Did we mention that you should have gotten in shape for the run?
9:30 a.m. Finish last-minute back-to-school shopping. This won't take long because everything has been picked over, and the stores have starting dismantling their school displays in order to set up their Halloween products.
10:15 a.m. Rent a paddleboard. Ignore those people doing yoga on them; if you manage to not fall off the board, you're doing good.
10:30 a.m. Change into dry clothes after falling off the board.
11 a.m. Take a ride on an electric scooter.
11:15 a.m. Go back to the emergency room after falling off the scooter.
Noon Get in line at the Sea Salt Eatery at Minnehaha Falls.
1:35 p.m. Reach the front of the line.
2:30 p.m. Take a tour of Historic Fort Snelling. Warning: The costumed re-enactors might provoke pangs of guilt that you didn't buy your kids their Halloween costumes when you had the chance while shopping for school supplies.
3:30 p.m. Play a round of miniature golf. When you casually mention your score to your fellow golfers at work, don't include the "miniature" part.
4:45 p.m. Stop by a splash pad or wading pool. Don't be embarrassed to enjoy the water with the kids. Sure, back on Memorial Day you vowed to lose 15 pounds before going out in public in a swimsuit, but that's the kind of goal you can roll over to next year. Although you'll likely need to lose 20 pounds by then.
5:30 p.m. Admire the giant chicken in Walker Art Center's Sculpture Garden. Skip this if your kids like KFC and might have nightmares about huge vengeful animals.
6:30 p.m. Round up the family for a picnic. You can go big, including lugging a barbecue grill to the site. Or just throw together bologna sandwiches. It's the gathering, not the food, that's the point here.
7:30 p.m. Catch a concert at the Lake Harriet Band Shell.
9:15 p.m. Kick back with a flight of beers at a microbrewery with a nice patio. If it has a lousy patio, you might need more than one flight.
11 p.m. Call it a summer — and start getting ready for winter.
Actually, most of this is unnecessary. With the exception of the city pools and Lake Harriet concerts, which do end their seasons on Labor Day, everything keeps going through at least the end of September. Maybe we should just head over for the last day of the State Fair and quit worrying about our summer bucket list.
Remember that we are, after all, Minnesotans. It's not winter until we say it's winter.