The first week of August has come and gone, and has done so without a temperature over ninety-three. True enough, the mornings have felt sticky, heavy, and humid, but the searing heat of late July didn’t translate into a brutal August beginning. It has rained nearly every day this month so far and the cloud cover has helped a lot, I suppose, as well as the rain cooling off the earth in general. There’s still plenty of Summer left, and there is still time enough for August to make me regret every thinking that there wouldn’t be hellish days, but so far there’s been barely a whimper out of the second hottest month of the year.
August is a month of transition and not just from Summer to school for that’s a human concept. August is the last full month of Summer and usually the first half of the month looks like July and the last part of the month resembles September. The light of the sun had Her maximum power as far as hours go back in late July. Now the heat of the sun begins to wane as well. No, yet, no yet, but in a couple of weeks, perhaps, someone remark that the days are getting shorter. We’ll stay on the plus side of hours in the day until the Equinox in September but at this moment we’re still, well, we should still be in, the grips of Summer heat.
Even if there was triple digit heat, the signs of decay and decline are there for those who are paying attention. The wild grape vines are always the first to turn their leaves yellow and then gold, and finally brown. High in the trees wreathes of gold are beginning to appear. Lower on the ground, the perennial vines have sprung up once again, heeding some call unheard by others. I’ve often wondered if they were tuned into the angle of the Sun’s energy, or the gradual cooling of the ground, or if it was the light let in by the other trees surrendering it to them. These are the thin but lengthy small vines that have white, purple, or red flowers and cover everything they can for just a few short weeks. They’re amongst my favorite plants on earth and earth August I await their return. This year they seem to have arrived much earlier but none the less welcome for it.
There’s a certain energy inherent to this month. Corn will be harvested, Peanuts will come into their own and well as cotton. The produce fields will be stripped bare. This is the time for collecting the reward for labor in the fields and at the same time, surrendering the rest of the year to a lack of growing power. I’ll be able to keep my pepper plants going for a while longer, yes, but the tomatoes and the flowers will slowly die out. The grass in the yard is lush and thick but there’s a certain lack in the blades. It’s as if the slowing Summer has deprived the army of green of their weekly pay and they’re standing less tall at attention for it. I’ll have to mow today or tomorrow, and then three more times in August. Then August will be gone.
On July the twenty-second, 2015, the temperature soared upwards towards one hundred and the heat index hit one hundred and ten degrees that day. I went walking, of course, and made nearly six miles before having to summon my ride. It was dangerous to a degree, but as long as someone can come get me out of it, the danger is less. It will be very good walking weather very soon, but the lack of hazard will diminish the sense that I have done something I can still do. Without the heat, without the triple digit pounding and the humidity, where’s the challenge? The walk will be more thinking about other things that have nothing to do with survival. That’s a good thing, really, it does take the edge away and mediation can begin, but still… August is the calendar’s way of saying good-bye to Summer even if there are three weeks of it left in September. Summer will be put out to pasture to spend its life trying to recreate the glory of those days that chased everyone indoors and forced the whole of South Georgia to live with air conditioning.
August may yet turn upon us and the Lizard Heat that chokes the life out of the air may return with a vengeance. I expect that it will. The first two weeks of September may well resemble July 2.0 and we might curse the sun even as the days shorten despite the heat. It could be the month of October is the only hope we have for any relief and there have been years were that has happened. It’s not too late for Summer to rampage Her way into our memory of the year the heat would not relinquish Her grip on us.
But this is August. The signs are there for whoever is paying attention to what the earth has to say. This is the circular dance which has been done for billions of years, long before we humans decided to try to define seasons, days, seconds, years, and centuries. Time defines this part of the year in the length of the day regardless of what grows or what does not grow and what we notice or what we ignore, means nothing to time at all. Civilizations have risen and fallen, their methods to mark or celebrate the dance has long disappeared forever, yet this is still August, it is still that time of year where one season begins to wan and another very slowly replaces it. I cannot help but think there have been many others, some sitting in this very spot thousands of years ago, who looked at the signs the earth sent and nodded. Yes, there is an ending beginning, here. This is August, by any other name, the same.