August should feel relaxed, lush and lazy, heavy with heat and humidity, the dog days of summer as they say. The local farmer’s markets and neighborhood gardens start to bring forth their bounty; ripe juicy tomatoes, plump and shining bell peppers, fragrant basil. The area lakes turn green with algae; a chartreuse slick of foam is floating on the south side of Lake Como, I will watch it grow day by day on my morning run. Later, there will be a bit of mist or fog in the cooler morning air, and sunlight starts to appear long, low, and golden, and the geese will be flying overhead, honking, v-formation, announcing tentative plans to migrate to the nearby harvest fields.
But the other side of August: a slight melancholy, a tension, a hint of sadness and of loss. Although September and early October can be glorious in Minnesota–crisp and sunny fall weather, low humidity, amazing display of colorful leaves–it is, to be sure, a harbinger of things to come. Fall is just too short, too rapid of a descent into colder temperatures and the eventual onslaught of winter, including snow, sleet, snow plows, snow shoveling, ice, black ice, ice dams, below zero wind-chill, school cancellations, or two hour delayed start, followed by a lengthy commute into work through the snow, passing cars spun out into the ditch.
Despite my cancer diagnosis, and constantly reminding myself that every day is a gift, take it one day at a time, don’t look too far ahead–I can’t help but have these August melancholy moments, in part due to my kids. Sam, who is 17, entering his senior year in high school; how did that happen? Lydia, age 15, is entering the 10th grade. In our mailbox, we are being bombarded with flyers from area colleges inviting Sam to apply. For both of them, I’m getting constant reminders from school; the forms to be signed, the list of supplies to be purchased, the upcoming schedules for fall sports–they actually start sending these things out at the end of July, causing undue stress in my opinion. Sam and Lydia are not too thrilled about it, either; soon the days of sleeping in will be gone, or going for bike rides around the lake, or hanging out in the backyard. And although they enjoy school, their friends, their teachers, it’s a rough transition to say the least. I also do not appreciate our local store setting out school supplies right after the Fourth of July, or stocking a Halloween candy display in early August. Come on people! We don’t need these reminders when it’s still 80 degrees and sunny and we should be reading a good book in a hammock or spending the day at the lake.
There is a verse from Ecclesiastes: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven.” This season, this time of late summer should perhaps be the most cherished of all, given the harsh Minnesota winter that is soon to follow. So rather than dwell on how quickly summer is flying by, I choose to stay in the moment, and appreciate the warm weather, the ability to engage with nature. My way of making the most of this time also includes riding my bike to the office; for some reason, getting on my bike and riding in makes it feel like I’m not really going to work, I’m just going on a long bike ride with a 7-8 hour rest stop in the middle.
And I so appreciate the much anticipated food we get to sample this time each year; the BLT with the ripe garden tomato, the very first sweet corn of the season. Even the act of dining out on the patio makes the simplest meal taste that much better, feeling the sun on my shoulders and a gentle breeze ruffling my hair. And as for the beverage rotation, it will always include an Aperol spritz, the quintessential drink of summer Mom and I discovered while traveling with our choir. Just a sip of this refreshing aperitivo and I am instantly transported back to summer of 2019 in Northern Italy.
Because, also from Ecclesiastes: Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry; for that shall abide with him all the days of his life. Amen to that.
How are you savoring the winding down of summer? I would love to hear your thoughts.