Kage Baker, like most American workers, had a cyclical relationship with Labour Day.
When she was a kid, she hated it – it meant we were soon to be back in school. And in Los Angeles, September is often the very hottest month of all. So, as Kage reckoned it, we were more or less going to Hell.
When she was a teenager, she’d developed enough sense of time to realize it was a 3-day holiday. However, it still fell outside the limits of the school year (this was a long time ago, and we went to Catholic school.) and so she crankily considered it a total waste of perfectly good time off.
“It’s like being sick during Christmas vacation,” she would pronounce in tones of outrage. “It’s a Cosmic Injustice. And when we Take Over, that will be fixed!”
We kept enormous lists of what would be done to improve the world when we Took Over. A lot of them involved putting the vanished animals, plants,books, candies, etc. back where they belonged; also, razing all the ugly buildings in Los Angeles. Kage gave a lot of those jobs to the Company Operatives later on. A startling amount of the Company agenda rose out of things Kage saw and disapproved of from a passing station wagon in her school years …
At last, of course, Kage joined the working class in earnest; and for many, many years she welcomed Labor Day as an extended holiday. For a lot of those years, it was a 3-day weekend at Northern Renaissance Faire, a sojourn in the fabled Wood Outside Athens: those may have been the best years. But the best ones may also have been in her last decade – when she worked from home and we had both retired from Faire, and the Labour Day weekend was full of friends and relatives come for a last summer party at the beach. Those were amazing times, Dear Readers.
Nowadays, it’s pretty much a mark on a calendar for me. Everyone in the household is retired, working at home, or in the final run-up to entering the job market. But Kimberly inherited the barbecue gene and also passed it on to Michael, so they grill if the weather isn’t too hot to step outdoors. We watch marathons on telly. I sing a few union and Luddite hymns to myself; I can hear Kage singing harmony in my head.
But mostly, I avoid the heat. This really is hottest time of year in L.A., usually, and going near the windows is like loitering near a blast furnace. I’ve been pretty wilted the last few days, and have accomplished nothing at all but napping and reading.
However, the marine layer is due back soon. The temperature is predicted to drop a good 20 degrees, into the 70’s, and the environment will become survivable for me again. I can go to the grocery store! I can drive out to my storage locker and unearth the autumn decorations and the spare toaster! I can summon enough brain wattage to write!
So here’s to General Ludd, and my Grandda who fought the blackleg miners and smuggled beer into a New Mexico jail, and my other Granddad who held the picket line against the studio scabs with a baseball bat and a burning Buick.
And in the meantime, I’ve honoured today with a bit of actual labour.