One of the bonuses of being child-free is that your life (once you have finished school yourself) is no longer dictated by the school calendar. So today, when I saw all the pictures of people's cute kids heading out to their first day in a new classroom, along with the attendant "Summer's over!" exclamations and sadface icons, I was grateful — because I still have another three weeks of the season left.

There are plenty of people for whom summer is most definitely not over: people who have kids but choose to homeschool; retired folks; recent college and grad-school grads; and all of us who work non-educational jobs. In fact, it's actually a very small percentage of people for whom the summer is "over" — parents, teachers and students (and the rest of us get caught up in the social and cultural juggernaut that is "back to school time"). But this is the best time of year for the rest of us!

All of us who are free from the school calendar get to enjoy the coolest, mellowest part of the summer in much less crowded locales (whether that's a beach, the trails, a museum, or even just a city park). Prices drop at popular getaway destinations — for me that's Cape Cod and Vermont — meaning you can get a summer vacation (warm weather, long afternoons, etc.) at a fraction of the cost. Dining out after Labor Day means not only do you have a higher chance of avoiding distracting kids at the table next to yours at a good restaurant, but less crowding means servers will be more attentive and cooks won't be as rushed — and you can linger at your table longer. In fact, service for almost everything is better, whether you are picking out clothes at a local store or looking for a hiking guide.

So refuse the mindset that your summer is over. Why does our culture steal time from what is most people's favorite season anyway? Isn't that strange? Use your remaining summer; there are still lakefronts to explore (and swim in — water has been warming all summer, so even if air temperatures are a bit lower, the water should be fine), trails to meander, B&Bs that would love your business, and plenty of T-shirt weather to enjoy. Peace and quiet await you in the last three weeks of the season.

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Summer's not over yet: Why this is best part of the season
For many, summer is over (but there are three weeks of the season left!). Take advantage of the quiet time.