Some call August the dog days of summer. The term came from Greek and Roman astrology as the period following the rise of the star system Sirius, which was thought to cause heat, drought, lethargy, mad dogs and back luck.
I wrote a poem titled “August” that is in my book Just Show Up, that describes this hot, humid month:
The morning breezes floating through open windows
billow sheer, ruffled curtains into rooms
catching the remnants of daybreak’s coolness.
The sheets, pinned to stiff wire lines
rise like tents, then float down, softening,
collecting fragrant air in their folds.
Noon lumbers in, sultry and surly,
quashing the morning currents under its heel.
Day stands still, suffering in silence.
The fine black afternoon dust lies heavy,
muffling the sound of tractors in the fields.
Quiet rest is the only cure.
The porch swing and hammock sway in the shade,
while a shimmering lake of straw-colored lawn
blurs the line between land and the white sky.
The labored breaths of moisture-laden air
argue with brassy shafts of overheated sunlight
soaking up the wisps of the remaining oxygen.
Night comes reluctantly, avoiding the heat,
dragging its feet until the setting sun
pulls darkness over its head.
A coolness settles first into hollows,
languishes over creeks and ponds, then
drifts through open windows on a breeze.
This was written from my memories of summers on the farm in the Midwest with no air conditioning, where shade and any hint of a breeze were welcomed. Do you have memories of August that make you sweat? Last month we wrote about vacations. This month think about your everyday lives through the summer months and what you do or did with your days.
I remember days of bike riding, roller skating on the sidewalks, chasing lightning bugs, and roaming all over my very small home town where we never questioned that we were safe and secure. Write about what you remember about summer during your years growing up. What were the best of times and, possibly, the worst of times? How did you stay cool, or could you?
Today, children must be watched and guarded and not allowed to roam freely, sometimes even in their own neighborhoods. What do you think has changed and why? Can we do anything about this turn of events? How or why not?
My neighborhood has a “greet in the street” event where neighbors come out and meet each other on an evening in the summer. It’s designed to enhance the neighborhood watch program but also to help us get to know each other better. What can you do during the rest of this summer to make your corner of the world a friendlier, safer place?