After almost thirty years in New England, I recently realized that although I am a fan of both October and May, it is August that has my heart. From beginning to end, August fills my soul. This year, I have enjoyed each of the 31 days, rolling them around in my mind like penny candy. Although it is my nature to jump ahead, this summer I’ve lingered over the golden light of August and allowed my senses to fully attend to sights, sounds, and delights of late summer.
August mornings greeted me, with the gray light of dawn illuminating the curtain of trees around my house. The damp warm greeted my sleepy body as I descended the stairs. A warm cup of tea in one hand, I noticed the way daylight came later and later each morning. The sweet smell of freshly mowed grass, the deep woodiness of the bark mulch tucked under the front porch, and the weight of the mist hovering over the driveway greeted me in the early morning.
The beach called to us, and we responded. We walked busy boardwalks, wrapped in the hustle of people. We played in the summer arcade, gathered long snakes of tickets with two hands. The familiar space filled with young people, families, our own children, as we slipped into the familiar games of youth and cheered each other on. By the time our tickets had been slurped up by the counting machine, our ears hurt from the noise and we were ready to head back outside.
We walked on the sand and let the lacy waves tickle our toes. We watched the wide horizon, rock jetties, and sailboats reach out from the shore. We sat on warm rocks as children played and seagulls squawked and flapped nearby. Dogs ran after balls, children ignored their parents, and fishermen attended to their poles. The sun hung heavy in the sky, washing away color and our everyday lives.
Our little guy played in the surf. He pulled handfuls of sand in his fat fist and threw them toward the curling waves. He ran along the shore, feeling the hard sand between his little toes. We buried our feet in the sand and watched as he worried them out. He tasted salt and surf, as well as sand and sun. When he was done, he was tired and crunchy.
The sound of the ice cream truck struck a cord with our own childhood, and we followed the well-worn path. We had to dig his hands out of the blanket to offer him a treat from the ice cream truck parked nearby. We could smell chicken over a charcoal grill, and hear children fighting with their siblings. Colorful kites hung in the air, like birds of prey, as we wandered back to the campsite. Twisted pines offered small refuge from the beating rays.
One perfect weekend, our favorite campground welcomed us home. We tasted salty tears as we remembered our last visit, and knew there would never be another like it. We watched the tops of tall trees wave beneath the crystal blue sky as we built a fire and tasted the burnt sugar of marshmallows melted into chocolate and graham crackers. We wandered, we watched the fire, and we let the sounds and smells of summer lull us to sleep.
The horses endured our visits and the sweet one carried us around. The smell of her sweat and the deep woods around the ring are now a familiar part of our family. We played with the dogs, cuddled the kittens, christened the new corn hole boards, and spent a long lazy day at the farm. We celebrated birthdays, summer visits, and new surprises. We reconnected, slowed down, and enjoyed the day.
Our favorite ice cream place has become a bittersweet reminder of loss. We mingled the sweetness of their offering with the sadness of his passing. For dad, there was always one more trip to Anne’s and now every trip reminds us again. A lot of this summer has included this mingling. We lean into the traditions and feel again the loss and grief.
The boy took us by the hand and brought us to playgrounds, farms, and discovery museums. The world looks different alongside a toddler. We slowed down and got really low to the ground. From that vantage point, the world is a wonder. The playground equipment turned a tough uncle into a softy. A small red and yellow car introduced us to forward motion and goodbye kisses. Pretend food and toys brought such delight to his little face.
August brought us long slow conversations on the porch above a sleepy seaside town, salt water taffy, and nostalgia. It also brought difficult goodbyes, long-distance visits, and facetime moments to share. We slowed down for craft night, for breakfast at the Country Store, and long conversations over the fire pit. We drove around for hours as the baby slept in the back seat, and explored new areas in the neighborhood.
Over the weekend, August slipped into September but I’m hanging on to late summer. When the cool winds of autumn slide beneath my door, I will be ready, but not yet. Today, the flowers outside my building hum with bees and the sweetness hangs in the air and follows me to my next meeting. Today, the air is rich and moist and it feels like August is lingering for a few more days. I’ll be savoring every last drop.