Angst In August

“What’s wrong?” 

That was the first question Joe, my partner, asked me the other day.  At first, I didn’t think anything was wrong, other than I felt a little sluggish and unmotivated to do anything.  Then I looked at the calendar.  August. 

I’m quite conflicted when it comes to the 8th month of the year.  I know it’s still summer, which I’m thrilled about, but inside I feel dread and sadness, as if the clock has begun ticking on the garden around me.   And once that thought takes hold, all other melancholic ideas start to sprout.  To put it simply, I’m summer saturated.

For starters, everything in the yard looks overgrown.  The Sunflowers can’t stretch any higher, and they are so crowded and top heavy that they are all falling over at odd slants.  The leaves on the trees are dull green.  Most of the annuals look tired.  The grass is burnt.   The Hydrangea flower heads have started to fade away.  Everything looks sloppy.  My impulse is to go out there and rip everything out of the ground and start all over again with new seedlings.  But that would be ridiculous.  As it is, the days of these plants are already numbered.

Then there is the change in shadow.  As the Earth and Sun have done their celestial dance on the way to the autumnal equinox, I have noticed that where there once was sun, there is now shade.  Just ask the Gazanias.  A week ago, they basked in hours and hours of summer sun.  Now, the shadow of the house lingers a little longer over their bed.

And let’s not forget about the quiet changes in weather.  While the days are still warm, nighttime temperatures have begun their subtle decline.  On some mornings, I can smell the faintest whisp of fall in the air. 

That is, perhaps, where most of my hostility toward August stems from: I know what’s coming.  Leaves will start to change, tropicals will have to be dug and stored for the winter, terracotta pots will need to be cleaned and packed away,  nights will become longer.  I can practically feel Light Deprivation Disorder bubbling up.

Maybe what August needs is a holiday.  Right now, the month sits between Independence Day and Labor Day — two perfectly patriotic days to have a barbecue.  While August is National Goat Cheese Month, where’s the parade?  Where’s the Charlie Brown and Peanuts August special?  Where’s the jolly cheesemaker and his sack of goat-cheese filled treats to give to good boys and girls?  

Clearly, August has nothing.  Instead, the month lives in the shadow of its 11 brothers and sisters, each one with its own special holiday —  New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter/Passover, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Chanukkah.  Even the changing of the seasons avoid these 31 days of summer doldrums.  Apparently, August is Jan Brady.

It’s actually amazing, when you think about it, that August just doesn’t run away.  I mean, how much can one month take? 

The compassionate side of me wants to give August credit for being a strong month, surviving against all odds in a family of so many wonderful months — wants to give credit, until I think of this blog, which adds one more anxiety into my mix.  What does a garden blogger write about when winter has stolen the garden?  I hope I have enough words to keep me and others interested over the cold, dark months ahead.   And if I don’t, let’s be clear: I’m going to blame it all on the month that started it — August.


13 thoughts on “Angst In August

  1. Amen, brother. I feel the same way. And yet we have three good gardening months left with beautiful weather, so I’ll get over it.

    • Hi. I’m always jealous of gardeners who can still practice in winter. Seeing green and getting my hands dirty will have to wait until the thaw. The potting shed helps, though. By the way, thank you so much for being the first person to click the “like” button. Your feedback means a lot.

  2. Here in SC, it’s been August for the last three months. Record setting summer. All you can do, is be there when they die. Hold their tiny little plant hands. Love your blog–you have some beautiful flowers that are doing well, based on your last blooming update, so you must be doing something right!

    • The heat has been tremendous, and as much as I love it, it does take its toll. As for the flowers doing well, that’s the result of a one-man water brigade and rain dancing, although I haven’t been too successful with the latter. Thanks for your kind words.

    • Hi Tracy. Thanks for the positive feedback. Yes, August needs some help, a makeover of some kind. Maybe Clinton Kelly and Stacy London can do some sort of intervention. Hmmmmm.

  3. I get that feeling of melancholy in August, too. I start counting the remaining buds on the daylilies and mourning the flowers that won’t bloom again until next year. Because I teach, the August doldrums are heightened by the fact that Aug. 1 brings on panic attacks about all the preparation for fall courses that hasn’t been completed yet.

    • I also work in a school, and my anxiety nightmares have already begun. . . Enjoy what’s left of the vacation and the summer. The school bell will be ringing before you know it.

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