“Some days in late August are like this, the air thin and eager like this,
with something in it sad and nostalgic and familiar . . .”
— William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Faulkner almost had it right.
While August is the saddest month in the calendar, it’s also, I think, the most perplexing.
It seems as if August just doesn’t know which season it wants to be part of: summer or autumn. The weather is still warm and humid, but each day grows shorter, second by second. Leaves that were once fresh and green are now dull and drab.
Added into my August angst equation is my non-blogging life. I work in a school, and in a little more than a week, classes will resume. It’s as if August is the gate for my flight into September, and I’m too afraid to leave the area for fear that I might miss the boarding call.
And so I find myself plotting the demise of August while squeezing — choking — all I can out of the last bits of summer. Surely, August must have some redeeming quality.
That’s what I was hoping to discover on a recent August evening when friends Laura and Paul invited Joe and me to dinner at their home overlooking Long Island Sound. From their deck, under the gaze of one of Paul’s works of art, we had an aerial view of Laura’s vegetable garden.
Because the house and garden sit on bluff, Laura and Paul incorporated nautical whimsy into it. Colorful buoys, many painted by Laura, decorate the walls and the ceiling under the deck.
At one point in the evening, before the late summer light faded, Laura and Paul wanted to show us their secret garden. We followed the sign to an opening in the hedge and then down a steep set of hand-crafted stairs to the water’s edge.
And that’s where August redeemed itself. There and then, on a bluff at sunset, the angle of the late summer sun’s rays played with the atmosphere, bathing the waterside garden and our skin in hues of gold.
There is no other light like the light in August. It’s comfortable and warm, like a favorite blanket. It stretches and lingers, like a cat on a sunny window sill. And it’s nostalgic and gold, like an aged photograph or a happy memory.
August — with all of its sadness and perplexity — gets to stay in my calendar.
Many thanks for everyone who commented in the Presidents’ Gardens giveaway. I enjoy reading your comments and learning a little bit more about you. After a spin through Random.org, the winner is: Mary C. Congratulations, Mary, and I’ll be in touch.
Look for another giveaway in an upcoming post.