Earth Journal
by M.L. Faunce

Dog days end early in August, at least by the calendar. Like time and tide, our thoughts can't help but turn, too. All in nature is pivoting, a rotation we'd notice if we weren't still busy having summer fun.

At the dock, sailing masts clank in the breeze, chanting a new tune. "School days, school days" goes the melody as waves lap. We can tune-out this wake-up call, of course, but nature won't let us ignore her. She insists, so we obey and observe.

Growing up, a brother's birthday on the seventh of the month always seemed to make me notice more than the cake and ice cream, set out on an old drafting table under the grape arbor or canopy of trees in the backyard. Dropping elm leaves were crisp underfoot. Nothing like the barrage that would fall later, but the tree first to leaf out in spring was first to shed its summer coat. Butterflies beckoned us to come fly with them. Ripening grapes hung in clusters, the aroma intoxicating. An August party may be steeped in summer ways, but even kids like to move on when they notice things changing.

This time of year, Queen Anne's lace starts to lose its starch; black-eyed Susans wink more than beam. Grass bristles our bare feet. Dried to sweetness, the scent makes us drowsy. Rose hips swell even as new blooms form. Crepe myrtle spills and splashes across our lawns in great pink puffs. A cricket quartet, soft and incessant, fills the air and the brushy borders of our yards, a blend of one sound from many voices.

Is there any time of year when the wind is as soft as in August? Brushing our faces as we bike or jog or drive country roads, paddle or powerboat on the Bay, the air caresses: You've felt its touch. This after blistering heat and before first frost. Finally, nettles in the Bay release their hold, and ferns fried from heat change color. In streams, the water's still tepid - what water there is. Noticing the change at the summer's end, we are both pushed and pulled.

Officially bound by Memorial Day at one end and Labor Day at the other, summer starts and ends as different as Darwin's finches. We are different, too. But before Labor Day, the true divide of summer and fall, in August there's still time for daydreams and a few vacation schemes. But with one eye on the clock, in our hearts, we are ready for what comes next, whatever that may be.

When once I lamented summer's end to a friend, she thought deeply and offered this: "Somehow I prefer a season of fruit to flowers."

Her comment gave me pause and my own thoughts. So that's why after biting into a crisp apple of a brand new crop near summer's end, you can't remember the dog days of August for the life of you.

| Issue 33 |

Volume VII Number 33
August 19-25, 1999
New Bay Times

| Homepage |
| Back to Archives |