This is the mouth of all seasons, a delta formed by the rivers of spring and summer that at the same time opens into the bay of autumn. August is the womb of memories from childhood swimming holes, to cold watermelon on hot days, to wind in the hair of convertible rides. Fingers of sun trace glitter upon the water, and every lazy float or picnic in the grass seem as if they were in August whether or not they actually were.
These halcyon days slip out of July without notice and as they do August seems immense, as if it will never end. This month’s mortality is well disguised when Gaia, Mother Earth, brings the gift of blue-skies holding clumps of billowing cloud and whispers cool breezes to soothe the heat. But just as Gaia gave birth to Kronos (time) in Greek mythology, when August ticks forward and the sand drains through the hourglass, uneasiness sets in.
With August moving closer to September it becomes difficult to avoid falling into the pit of anticipatory grief. It is the horror of a fast escaping summer we know will never return that steals our attention. As such, the last half of August is a time to practice mindfulness with a vengeance — to stay in the present and enjoy what remains rather than fall forward in dread and miss it altogether. Mindfulness is a practice for the whole year of course, but is especially important even if difficult, in the escaping days of August.
When I was a boy frolicking through Indiana and northern Michigan summers, August was a big bank of days after camp was over and before school began. Fishing was poor at the zenith of heat but it didn’t matter because getting all the stuff together and being out in the row boat or on the dock was what mattered. It was also a time for meeting up with school friends again to find out what they did over the summer, and having time to play together before the loss of school-less days.
Later, August emptied into the hurried trough of shopping and packing for college. First witnessed as a bystander when my older siblings disappeared year after year, I eventually lived into that excited, nervous chute of moving away, too. Each age tinges August with its own uniquely colored glaze of memories.
I wonder how memories of August 2021 will bronze this month of days we are living now? Will the ferociousness of the Delta variant finally turn the tide of vaccinations and envelop the previously resistant and hesitant? Will the truth of their actual experience and witnessing illness, debilitation, and death, finally erode the cascade of lies? Will it pull away the willful blindfold and reveal other assaults on truth? Might we look back on this month as the turning point when the long, painful deluge of propaganda is finally relegated to reside among a tiny nonage instead of a significant minority? What a wonderful memory that would be, so worthy of a prestigious place in the August Hall of Fame.
But practicing mindfulness now, we will just have to wait and see. Now — minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day — Gaia gives us her best. Enjoy.