Breaking Up With August Is Hard To Do

Hi, August.  It’s me.

Listen, I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one.  I’m just going to dive in and let you know . . .

It’s over between us.  I know I waited until the end of your days to tell you this, but I was really hoping you and I could have worked things out – maybe come to some sort of agreement on the nature of our relationship.  That seems to be out of the question now.

Each year, I hope to look forward to your arrival, but you are very skilled at trying my patience – and as quickly as my expectations rise, you find every opportunity to walk all over them.

Take my impatiens.  Please.  When I first saw that they weren’t thriving, that their stems were barren of leaves, I blamed myself (not enough water).  Then I blamed the slugs (they had to be munching all night).  And then I learned about the fungus.  Maybe you didn’t create the fungus, but your heat, humidity, and rain games certainly didn’t help.

Don’t think the other plants escaped your games.  It seems that as soon as August 1 arrives, the entire garden is overgrown – and I do all I can to restrain myself from ripping everything out of the ground and starting from scratch.  The gomphrena is flopped over; the petunias are long and leggy; and the four o’clocks are turning to seed.

By the way, just so you know, I planted these a few years ago, as a reminder of the four o’clocks that bloomed at my childhood home.  I thought it was cool that the flowers opened up in the late afternoon.  I still think it’s cool.  I also happen to like the seeds, which are shaped like mini-finials.  I just don’t want to see them now – but everything always has to be on your time schedule, doesn’t it?

Oh, and don’t think I haven’t noticed all of the chewed leaves.  Nice touch, that one.  I can’t even see what’s eating them.  All I know is that you must have had something to do with it.  What’s that?  You’re blaming the mild winter for the insect explosion?  That is so typical of you.  For once, be responsible for at least one thing – it’s not like you have a holiday to distract you.

And speaking of holidays, just because you don’t have one is no reason to rob three months of holidays for your benefit.  Thanks to your relentless rush-rush philosophy, retailers feel compelled to assault the senses with displays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas items.

Even the spiders are all out of whack.  Each night, they’re spinning huge webs – silky dream catchers – and decorating my house for Halloween.  It’s August, August!

Everything in it’s own time.  It’s a simple lesson – and you should learn it.

And what’s with the game of sunlight and shadows?  As soon as you arrive, just as I’m settled into my summer groove, there you are – changing the color of the sunlight, making it more orangey golden than white hot, and then moving the shadows to their fall and winter locations.  Hello – I still have flowers that require sunlight and you have once again eclipsed them with your needs.

I think that sums you up.  You take and take and take – and you never give.  It’s always all about you and what you have to do before September arrives.

Well, let me make this clear.  You already know that I work in a school system, and September means that I return to the land of reality.  That means students and needs, meetings and needs, parents and needs, and paperwork and needs.  I don’t see garden and needs on that list.  Do you?

So, if it’s not too much trouble, let me have my summer to re-energize, to sow, to weed, to play in the dirt.  Let it feel endless, just like it used to when I was a kid.  And for the love of God, stop breathing down my neck and telling me that autumn and frost dates are coming (I’ve already seen some of the leaves changing colors.  Really?)  and that it’s time to pack up the terracotta pots, to dig and save the tropicals, and to cover the pool.

What’s that?  The watermelon?  I see.  You heard about the watermelon?  Yes, Joe and I visited a farmers’ market and purchased a Sugar Baby watermelon – and, I admit, it was the sweetest, reddest, juiciest, most spectacular watermelon – seeds and all – that I have had in a very long time.

You want credit for that?  Okay, fine – I’ll give you credit.  You did a nice job with the watermelon.

And?  What? The portulaca?  Yes, they were tremendous this year, and I really must plant more of them next year.  You certainly outdid yourself with the portulaca.

Okay, fine.  Fine.  You made your point.  There’s no need to keep hammering it home. I get it.  We had our good times.  You complete my season — is that what you want to hear?  Satisfied now?

I’ll, um . . . I’ll see you next year.

Merry Hallowgivingmas,


38 thoughts on “Breaking Up With August Is Hard To Do

  1. I just saw halloween candy in the store a couple days ago and it stopped me in my tracks. Really?!?!? Can’t we wait until summer is officially over and the kids are back in school for that.

    • I know. I know. Here on Long Island, the holiday colors are clashing: oranges, blacks, golds, reds, and greens. There’s leaves and snow, pumpkins and Pilgrims and reindeer. And sprinkled in between are the back-to-school supplies. I will never understand how the economists predict the holiday shopping season — it started on August 1, not the day after Thanksgiving.

  2. You’re such a push-over Mr Gritty! Give an inch & ol’ August’ll take a mile. Be firm, stand you’re ground, time to give September a whirl!

  3. August is usually the month in my garden when not much is flowering, where I struggle to keep my plants watered enough and the heat is relentless. This year…eh, this year it has rained. A lot. Although we have had dry periods in between, just enough to kill some of the plants in pots and window baskets while I was in hospital, but most in the ground survived with no attention. And I had lilies in flower this August, thanks to everything being so late! Yes, August has been strange in so many ways this year. The spiders have arrived though, and whatever is chomping away on the leaves in your garden has been on a visit to mine too 🙂

    • I agree — everything just seems worn out and haggard. BUt the munchers are a mystery. There is nothing visible on the undersides of the leaves or on the stems. There is no slimy slug trail. Yet, all leaves are fair game. Even the weeds are being devoured. Any ideas out there? I’m not sure how to combat what I can’t see.

      • I found quite a lot of caterpillars earlier this summer, probably what we over here call cutworms, which develops into brown moths. In an attempt to save my garden from being completely de-leafed I finally resorted to spray the whole garden with bug killer. I sprayed late in the evening, after sunset, to not harm any bees and other beneficial insects. It stopped whatever was eating the leaves, and some of the flowers too, but the plants already affected looks a bit sorry, especially those that are evergreen. Seems I might have been right that the caterpillars were the culprits, although I only found a few caterpillars every now and then. Cutworms only come out at night to eat so if you want to see if you have the same problem you need to go outside with a torch at night and inspect your plants…or just go ahead and spray and hope for the best like I did.

      • Helene, thanks for the info. I’ll go on a safari tonight — but at this point, so much is eaten. I also spotted what I think is a small, light brown grasshopper or locust.

    • Well, if that keeps August putting out watermelon, I’ll keep August in my calendar. Otherwise, I will be visiting the farmers’ market on July 45th. 🙂

  4. Well said, August is always a little reminder of what is to come. Every year I plant a few new flowers that bloom in the fall and every year I’m glad I did. Eventually maybe August won’t be looking so sad!

  5. And I thought I was the only one blessed by spiders. However they usually are out in force when the invisible munchers are out. I like to think they’re helping, but it’s the Pollyanna in me. Hate walking through spiderwebs though…I always feel like one is on me when I come inside.
    You have beautiful pictures, but I like that you post the sad and tired plants too. It’s not just me!

    • Mary, you are certainly not alone. In gardening, I feel I have to look at the sad and tired plants. That helps me for next year — and as long as the spiders don’t stretch a web across my path, we have a truce. Otherwise . . .

  6. You have said what I think I’ve been feeling and hadn’t yet put words to…I am not ready for the spirit of summer to disappear, but my garden is panting and exhausted. We are currently in conflict!

  7. I’m chuckling a little because I live near the ocean in SF and we haven’t had our summer yet. Our heat starts soon even though the plants are turning color. The tomatoes will start thriving and they’re really full right now! I took an organic pest control class and those leaves look like they’re being eaten by something that flies. Other pests would start from the outside and eat around, even birds peck & pull the outer leaves normally. A spray of biodegradable soapy water or neem oil diluted every few days should help. The aphids have been bad in my garden and don’t get me going on the gophers! I’ve decided on raised beds which I hope to put the posts in today. Gophers will sleep soon thank goodness! Love your writing, funny.

    • Hi Tracy. Glad you were able to stop by. I vacationed in San Francisco in August years ago — and I actually had to go shopping for warmer clothes! A beautiful city with its own interesting weather pattern. As for my leaves, they look like Swiss cheese. I’m keeping my eyes opened for anything that flies, jumps, and/or slithers. I just don’t see anything — and the question is: do I spray now, or just let winter do its thing? Hmmm. . .

  8. Kevin, I also find August a hard month to love. Having to drive south to August heat along the Mason-Dixon line doesn’t make it any easier, For now, I’m happy that August is over, and I’m waiting for the weather to catch up with the calendar and bring us some nice cool, dry September days.

  9. Kevin-I feel your pain. This was the summer from hell in Central Virginia. I am exhausted and find myself clinging to the thought of first frost! Then I will be out in the garden hacking and yanking aggressive weeds that seem to thrive in horrific conditions.
    The burn barrel will be a joyous festival where I shall cremate the oleander aphids that decimated my tropical milkweed–the host plant for all the monarchs I raise. Such opportunists, those cursed aphids! They seem to know that I cannot spray to kill them, as this would kill the monarch larvae!

    • Right back at you. I feel the same way as I look at teh Swiss cheese leaves of all my plants. I can’t see what’s eating the leaves, but whatever it is needs to be frosted out. 🙂

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