August is the Sunday of Summer. And like a Sunday, we enjoy the vestiges of a rhythm we have become comfortable. August brings changes all around us, if you look.
The once majestic sunflowers hang their heads, tired. The verdant hillsides are suffused with a dullness. Morning birdsong comes later than usual. Queen Anne has traded her white lace for fields of purple ironweed and feathery goldenrod.
Hummingbirds are scarce, woolly bear caterpillars are on the march, and foggy mornings are frequent.
August gave us a grand show, though. The morning glory blossoms were at their deepest velvet. Electric pink milk thistle appeared in fields. Pokeweed berries ripened to the color of burgundy wine. Orange jewelweed dotted the landscape.
The air still wraps itself around us like a steamy wet blanket, but soon we’ll use a real one to ward off the chill. Windows will reopen and curtains will billow with cool breezes. Bedtime stories will come earlier and car headlights once again necessary for the morning commute.
When the sun shines in a September blue sky, it will illuminate mountains sprinkled with multicolored confetti against a backdrop of windswept white clouds. There will be hints of pepper and sassafras in the air. Squirrel’s nests will appear among the treetops, their height perhaps an indicator of the level of snow we might expect in winter.
I heard cicadas for the first time this summer on Saturday the 21st. According to folklore, six weeks from then will be our first frost here. I’ve marked the calendar for October 2nd, just to see.
There’s only a little while longer for short sleeves and flip-flops. Butterflies, bumblebees, and trees thick with leaves. For this Sunday of summer, I relish the remnants of this relaxed time before I turn the page and begin anew.
The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change.”E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web