Here it is, a hot, sunny morning heralding the arrival of August. There’s a full month ahead of dog days and warm nights, of heat lightning and shimmering highways, of ice cream cones and lemonade. It’s a sweet, lazy time. But I’m not stoopid, I know what’s coming. And so do you.
At the end of this fine month, the kiddies will return merrily to school, much like the swallows to Capistrano. But in brand new shoes, carrying brand new backpacks stuffed with brand new pencils and stiff, spotless notebooks. The grown-ups will start stockpiling vacation days for the holiday season. Pools will close, lawn furniture will get dragged into garages, backyard grills will fall into disuse, and we’ll turn on lights a little earlier each evening. The world and everything in it will grow quieter.
Winter is coming.
The season that is, always and forever, my nemesis. I resent every nostril-freezing, apple-cheeked, bone chilling, teeth-chattering, ice-coated second of it. What, I wonder, have I done to deserve this? Shouldn’t I remember a transgression so flagrant as to merit this? There are swindlers and cheaters and villains of all stripes happily ensconced on tropical islands in every corner of the world. Why aren’t they sinking up to their knees in cold, wet snow four months a year? Why aren’t they scraping ice and shoveling snow in brutal, windy, below zero weather? Better yet, why am I? Really, why?
Okay, between summer and winter there is Autumn. Or, as I refer to it, the Pre-Party to Hell Freezing Over. The fall leaves are, oooh. Bonfires, yippee. Hot cider and tailgate parties, big whoop. Lest we forget, there’s also raking billions and billions of those gloriously colorful leaves. And the ensuing blisters, tall and tight as bubble wrap, between millions of thumbs and forefingers. Plus, endless damp, blustery, gray days that end only after the first debilitating snow dump, usually before Thanksgiving.
From mid-November (sometimes October) until mid-March (sometimes April) you wouldn’t recognize your own mother outdoors. She, and everyone else, turned into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Dear old mom is buried under twenty pounds of heavy woolly coat and sweaters and scarves, hats and mufflers and boots, gloves and ear muffs and socks upon socks. Even if you did spot her and chirped, “Hi, Mom!”, she wouldn’t hear you. She wouldn’t hear an air horn.
This delight, this wintertime gaiety, awaits. I know it’s only August, but I can already feel it lurking, lying in wait, gleefully pernicious. I dread it more than public speaking, more than public speaking naked in a party hat in town square, more than anything I can think of. I yearn for a bus ticket to the Equator.
I have to remind myself, this, right now, is August. There’s still some summer left. I open the windows wide, I throw off the covers, put on my flip-flops, grab a brain-freezing iced tea, crank the tunes, and sing along — loud and off-key. I’ll wring every last drop of summer bliss from these remaining days in the hope they’ll warm me when I look back from the bleak, dreary perspectives of January and February. We all should.
Hell, it’s cheaper than turning up the heat, right?
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