August 1, 2009

Back when I lived in Massachusetts, August was always one of my favorite months. Lazy humid days, the heaviness of the trees, the stickiness of the wood furniture, the hum of air conditioning units, sleeping on top of the covers, the buzzing of the heat bugs, the roadside stands and parked pickup trucks advertising tomatoes, raspberries, and Silver Queen and Butter and Sugar corn on wooden boards, standing in line at Gary’s Ice Cream for a pineapple sundae, the gladiolus my grandfather would plant around Memorial Day abloom in a rainbow of colors, heat lightning, the purple loosestrife ablaze in the wetlands – I loved all of it.

When I was a kid, the start of school was still weeks away, so August was a luxurious time for baseball games with my friend Paul Porcella across the street at the Shawsheen School, or late-night dips with my dad in our swimming pool, or reading under the trees in our backyard. As an adult, it was (along with November) one of my favorites times of the year to take a drive through all the old colonial towns up on Boston’s north shore, just to see where the tiny, winding roads might lead. August was when I liked to visit Newport, RI the best: you could always find a little cooler air there, if not at the beach, then while poking through the waterfront shops or walking through the dark, cool mansions on Bellevue Avenue.

August was also a great month to go to the beach, for by then the ocean was just getting tolerable enough to stay in for extended periods. It was in August when you’d first start paying attention to the baseball standings and scoreboard watching to see how the Yankees were faring that particular day.

For me, August was that time of year you wished you could just reach your hand out and grab something you could bottle and hang on to forever, as if it were something eternal, endless, precious. It was, after all, August, and you could see the days were now getting shorter, and you knew that sooner or later it all had to end. Inevitably, usually towards the end of the month, you could count on a day of violent thunderstorms being pushed eastward by a cool front from Canada that would transform mid-summer to late summer, and that seemingly endless stretch of hazy days called “the muggies” into days as bright, sparkling, and dry as a glass of Veuve Clicquot.

That’s why August was magical.

Here in the Valley of the Sun, it ain’t like that. Here, August is our fourth straight month with 100+ temperatures, and everyone – even those who love living here – are sick of the endless heat. It’s in August where the desert gods, not satisfied with just days of broiling heat, add just enough humidity into the atmosphere to turn the sizzling-hot days of June and July into August blast furnaces that take your breath away and make even the slightest outside activity pointless in just seconds.

Out in these parts, August is like a mid-January cold snap in New England – everyone stays inside and few dare to venture outside unless it’s absolutely necessary. August is a month of excessive heat advisories (like today), punctuated occasionally by violent thunderstorms cooked up by a roasting monsoon atmosphere that bring no relief, only fantastic displays of sheet lightning stretching as far as the eye can see and deluges of hot rain mixed with dust.

Unlike in New England, there is no promise of a seasonal change coming, for Septembers out here are nothing but an extension of August. It won’t be until the first or second week of October that the desert gods will flick the switch and turn the days into the reason why most people live out here to begin with. Until, that is, the following April, when we’ll be back in the ’90s and the heat pump starts the cycle up all over again.

So today I’ll make myself a Bubba’s Big Bamboo, crank up some tropical music on the MP3, and find me a cool corner of the house to toss a few back, relax, and reminisce about those soft, sentimental days of August long past and recent past.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:25 | Comments (3)
  1. I love this…what a great way to start the day with a smile and joy.

    Comment by Jana — August 2, 2009 @ 6:27 am

  2. Well, the second day of Aug and I have AC off…it has been an amazing summer so far. AC has been off a lot and I am loving that. Love the night sounds of the tree peepers, crickets, watching fireflies outside my window, leaving the doors to the porch open, ceiling fans slowly moving the night air around the room. This is just bliss.

    Comment by Jana — August 2, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

  3. […] this coming after my post the other day. But it wasn’t just me who, upon waking to the alarm this morning, noticed for the first time […]

    Pingback by GoodBoys Nation - Archives » Days Are Getting Shorter — August 4, 2009 @ 8:19 am

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