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January 20th, 2017

The Wonderful Land of August

 

Dear readers: This column will make more sense if you read it after August 1st. Feel free to read it now, but read it again then. (That way I get to visit with you twice.)

 

Well, fellow travelers, here we are again. For any who are unaware, we have all just arrived in the wonderful land of August. If you’re reading this, which you must be, you have been to this beautiful place of sun and fun many times before. (That is, unless you are a child prodigy, the likes of which the world has never seen, and you are reading this on your first birthday or something.) Discounting that improbability, it is a good bet that you have been to this place in the year at least several dozens of times. My writing attracts few tweens and teens.

In my particular case, I’m making this visit to August for the sixty-first time. I’m sixty years old, (barely) as I was born in July, so, yeah, that makes sixty-one Augusts, I think. (By the way, I figured that out all by my lonesome, without consulting Google or Facebook or Twitter or anyone else.) Sadly, it’s hard to imagine that someone with such boyish youth and good looks as myself could possibly have taken the magnificent voyage around the sun, (an event which we have chosen to represent the ‘years’ of our lives) over sixty times already, but I’m afraid that it is true. My vehicle and yours is both the earth herself, and time, the combination of which never stops, or even slows, and ultimately proves, relentlessly and without exception, to be deadly. And we all seem to be its semi-reluctant passengers. But… ‘Stop the world, I want to get off?’ No. I don’t think so, and neither do you, really.

In my youth, August meant to me what it likely still means to kids today. It meant days at the lake, being with friends, bike riding, lawn mowing, beach walking, car washing, fishing, cookouts, sunbathing, strawberries, watermelon, the smell of coconut oil, the taste of corn on the cob, Popsicles, and most importantly, the fact that school summer vacation was not yet over. As an oldish, school-teaching, textbook toting visitor to August for the sixty-first time, it means days at the lake, being with friends, bike riding, lawn mowing, beach-walking, car washing, fishing, cookouts, sunbathing, strawberries, watermelon, the smell of cocoanut oil, the taste of corn on the cob, Popsicles, and most importantly, the fact that school summer vacation is not yet over. Oh, so much has changed.

The reality is that August, truly, is a wonderful place to spend a month, and we all seem to stay here for exactly that long, every time we visit. Isn’t that strange? I love how long and sunny these days are; how green and alive everything is. The more Augusts I experience, I think, the more I appreciate those things. Every summer, every August, I pray that I will see the next one. No, I really do. The ‘green and alive’ part of it all is a big reason for my love for this month, as you could probably already tell. ‘Alive’ is what we are supposed to be, and being surrounded by life is just wonderful. Maybe we’re not supposed to be green, but you get the idea. The warm nights in the land of August are wonderful too. My wife works evenings, and it’s so neat that even at midnight the two of us can enjoy a mild summer breeze together, talking and rocking on the front porch swing. (Yes, we really do have a front porch, and we really do have a front porch swing. This time of year we use them both, all the time.) If that sounds corny and dated to you, then you need to adjust your ‘corny and dated’ meter.

That front porch swing is also useful in a very informal game my wife and I tend to begin playing, at about this time each year. The game has no name, but it involves being the first to spot a bright red leaf peeking out from the green depths, high in the very large and elderly maple tree on our front lawn. When that happens, we both know that our visit to August has ended, in more ways than can be shown on a calendar. The month is always quickly overtaken by those of fall; that one red leaf is soon swallowed up in a sea of scarlet and bronze. Then cooler evenings come, bringing smokey scents from neighborhood wood stoves, and fewer visits to the front porch swing.

I hope you enjoy your thirty-one day visit to the land of August as much as I will. I’ll see you later. In fact, lets make a date of it. I’ll meet you back here, I promise, at this very spot, exactly 365 days from now.

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