It wasn’t universally recognized, of course. On a colony like Roan Oak, you were lucky to get people to generally acknowledge the direction the sun rose from every morning; you couldn’t normally get more than twenty-five out of any hundred people to agree on what year it was, and often a marriage group couldn’t settle on a last name so they all used something different. But the Children’s Hour was more regularly recognized than most “actual” holidays were, and, possibly, more enjoyed.
It was certainly louder than anything but the Spring-has-come festivals, a cacophonous clatter that echoed from one end of the settlements to the other. For, in that time when the sun had begun to set but there was still light out, across all the scattered villages, miners and carters, teachers and shopkeepers, farmers and craftspeople all put down their work and went outside.
And all of them, the gruffest miner, the sternest teacher, the most curmudgeonly shopkeeper, every single one of them, (of those who took part, of course, because there would always be some who did not participate), they all played. The brought out the balls, big and small, the bats and the nets, the mittens in winter and the sprinklers in summer, the toy trucks and the dolls, and, for an hour as the sun sank below the horizon of their new world, grown men and women acted like children for just a little while.
The children, too, played, of course, most of them enjoying seeing their parents and mentors acting silly, “acting like children,” (the children would say they were acting nothing of the sort, but they’d mostly learned not to disillusion their elders, and, by the time they, themselves, were grown-ups, almost all of them forgot that particular complaint).
Some said a teacher had started the trend, wanting to connect her students and their parents; some, a doctor, who wanted people to be more healthy, to be more active outside of repetitive work. A few, who were the closest to right and the least often listened to, murmured that it had been a miner, who just wanted an excuse to kick the ball around after work.
The miner’s wives, both of them grey with age by now, smiled to themselves, and kicked the bases into place for a Children’s Hour game of baseball.
For Carry On Tuesday; today’s prompt was:
- the first verse of Longfellow’s poem The Children’s Hour
Between the dark and the daylight
When the night is beginning to lower
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations
That is known as the Children’s Hour
This story takes place in the same place as my flash fiction The Colony, sponsor for $15