David Bouchier

Mark Lennihan / AP

We have so many anniversaries, big and small, happy and sad, that it’s hard to keep up with them all. Every day is the anniversary of something or someone, and most of them, we are willing to forget. But not this one, not yet.

Here we are, it’s Labor Day weekend. The slow, easy decline of summer is upon us, and it brings a certain relaxation, not least because we can stop pretending to relax. Very soon we can cast aside those never-finished mega-books from the summer reading lists and consign them back to the library, or the yard sale. Soon we can abandon the uncertain pleasures of the beach, hide the barbecue under its black cover, put away the insect repellants, and live normally for a few weeks, at least until The Holidays arrive.

Gemma Billings / Flickr

Supermarkets don't scare me anymore. For years I was terrorized by the health police. Guilt and anxiety fought a losing battle against a healthy appetite, and a hyperactive food industry. When I went food shopping, I felt I should carry a magnifying glass to read the tiny lists of ingredients and nutrition information on every package, and a chemical dictionary to translate them.

The small ad pages of local newspapers often reveal more than the news pages. They give the reader a glimpse behind the conventional social scene into a slightly sad world of used cars, secondhand furniture, hopeful handymen, lost cats and lonely hearts. This is where you find the real, down to earth life of a place,  so I never fail to read the back pages of our local papers wherever we are.

Claude Paris / AP

Much of Europe has been enjoying an August heatwave, although not everyone would agree with the word “enjoying.” It was even quite warm in England for a day or two and a few people had to be hospitalized, I suspect not so much from the heat as from sheer surprise. Daytime temperatures in southern France have been hovering around a hundred, which is above average but not unprecedented. It’s a dry heat, coming straight up from Africa with all the subtlety of an open pizza oven.