By John Rice
Tell-tale signs that our precious summer is over:
Just as Lake Michigan finally gets warm enough for swimming, they shut down the beaches.
Stores start stocking Halloween masks, after "Back to School" sales have emptied the shelves.
Cicadas are making more and more racket, a grim reminder that school is about to start.
Tomatoes — lots and lots of homegrown tomatoes.
Golfers have to find their ball among the fallen leaves, while tiny holes appear in the greens to make putting even tougher.
You have to bundle up to sit on the back deck at night.
If your street hasn't planned a block party yet, it's not going to happen.
You decided it's best to save that summer reading you never got to for long winter nights.
Just the sight of a snow shovel makes you shiver.
New fall TV shows replace reruns — can anyone tell the difference?
Parents of college students are making very expensive trips to Target.
Mums are blooming like crazy — though it's too chilly to admire them.
When you go on a picnic, nobody likes them more than the yellow jackets.
Some start practicing for winter by wearing fleece indoors.
Breweries shift to their fall recipes for beer and ale — Cranberry Stout anyone?
Families are already arguing about who's going to host Thanksgiving.
German music makes a major comeback.
Everyone connected with schools, be they students, staff, or teachers, is completely frazzled.
Forest Parkers are sitting around backyard fires in the evening. Why do they get to have so much fun and why wasn't I invited?
You start thinking about adding thermal underwear to your wardrobe.
You rustle through the leaves when you go for a walk.
You notice big markdowns on tiny swim suits.
You have to explain to Chicago-area transplants that what they think is a winter coat is really a light jacket.
You say goodbye to your neighbors and promise to resume saying "Hi" to them in March.
After pretending that pre-season games are not practice scrimmages, the NFL starts playing real football.
Regular season baseball games actually count.
Restaurants start taking in their outdoor seating and closing their rooftops.
After scaring us with the heat index, weather forecasters frighten us with frost warnings.
The two-month long U.S. Open Tennis Tournament starts in New York, just after the month-long Little League World Series ends.
A columnist writes an end-of-summer list, without making a single pumpkin spice joke.
But you know it's coming.