Here it is August, the eighth month that was originally the sixth month til the Romans messed with the calendar. August, the month that's mostly about anticipation: when will the heat subside, when will the kids get back in the school, when will football reign, when will the yard quench its unsatiable thirst. August, the month that Chicago residents recently dubbed one of their least favorite, at the bottom of the list of faves, along with November. August, the month that one Slate columnist (David Plotz) proposed eliminating, citing its miserable heat, dismal history and inconsequence, saying it was like the Mississippi River, something we'd be better off without.
Not sure I agree with the August bashers. I like August. It's a trigger month for me. It always triggers in my mind the notion of corduroy, plush, mysterious corduroy. Look at it one way, it's deep-toned and a bit rough. Turn it around, it's sleek and lighter. I remember corduroy jumpers were part of our August world. These wonderfully versatile garments offered a way to expand a girl's wardrobe, with one swift switch. A white blouse under a black corduroy jumper, one with a rick-rack trimmed full-circle skirt, could launch the jumper to exquisite primness, while a tartan plaid top could rouse images of lockers, lunch bells, and eraser dust. These are August images. I gifted my daughter with this same seasonal fashion: her back-to-school wardrobe, stitched up in late summer, typically had at least one piece of lush, ribbed corduroy. Corduroy and August just go together in my mind, like root beer and vanilla ice cream.
Corduroy jumpers are not the only thing I like about August. The month also triggers the image of air shows, not performed by fighter jets, but by tiny, big-mouthed swallows. These diminutive aeronauts are amazing. My late husband and I used to plunk lawn chairs in the middle of our large back yard, then sit quite still as the air show launched. Rusty-breasted barn swallows would swoop, zip, dive, roll, and soar all around us, sweeping the evening sky for hapless insects, fanning their distinctive vees of tail. Our neighborhood, plush green from cheap irrigation water, lured mosquitos and they brought in the swallow squadrons. We were stunned, repeatedly shocked, that these jockeys didn't collide, with each other, with us, with the many trees and shrubs in our yard. We loved the exhilarating swallow air shows: a treat that came our way each August.
Another August treat drops off trees, pops out of freezers. I'm talking about the indescribable wonder of fresh, local peaches dressing up a dish of good vanilla ice cream. A dessert fiend I'm not, but in August, I'm on the prowl. Gimme the succulent fuzzy globe. I'll pit it, slice it, smother it with sweet vanilla chill. I'll make each serving a long, slow, meander along my taste buds. I'll sit, as I did last night, in the green chamber of backyard, bringing each spoonful deliberately to my mouth, letting the peach land first, crowned by the ice cream, then letting the blissful concoction melt, dissolve, find its way to my tummy. I'll wait a bit before taking on the next spoonful. Savor this blessing. Savor each bit of August.
August-bashers can attack the month, but I like it. I like the name, as it sounds dignified. My grandfather's first name was August; my father's middle name was August. It's a name I like. Detractors say that the month is flawed because there is no national holiday. But what about all the wonderful, if lesser known, celebrations in August? Here are some of my favorites, along with their celebration dates: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day (2nd); Wiggle Your Toes Day (6th); National Polka Festival!!!(9th); Middle Child Day (that's me) (12th); Bratwurst Festival (16th); National Spongecake Day (23rd); and World Sauntering Day (28th).
With all these things to celebrate, what's not to like about August?