Almost August

It’s almost August and our summer lives again. Two weeks of highly unseasonable cold, clouds, and rain have given way to 90-degree days and plenty of sunshine. The pool water sparkles, and in the kitchen there’s a bowl of plump Georgia peaches, so perfectly ripe that the flesh just falls off the seed. Cut them too soon and they’re chewy, without much taste. Today they’re just right, but the window for enjoying them closes quickly, and it’s not the only one.

It’s almost August. When I was a kid, this was when you started to look over your shoulder for the first day of school, even though in my town, classes didn’t start until the day after Labor Day. So you darn sure made the most of every minute of summer break, purely on your own devices, no adults scheduling or supervising.

You’d head out the door in the morning knowing you’d find something to do. Maybe a ball game at the playground; we only needed eight guys, enough for a pitcher and three fielders on each side. Or kickball in the street right outside the front door, where first base was a tree, second was a filled-in pothole, third was the tree on the other side, and home was just a spot on the concrete. Every so often somebody yelled, “CAR!” and “play was suspended” while it passed.

In the afternoon, a kid might come along on a pedal-powered ice cream cart with all kinds of treats, including big, frosty fudgsicles, my favorite. Evenings, we’d gather again, just hanging out, then heading home when it got dark. You might walk home with a girl if you were at that age, talking, heart beating a little faster than usual, trying not to be uncool.

I’m not a parent and don’t mean any of this as criticism of the way kids spend their time today. But the freedom we had back then left me with some precious gifts: being able to find my own fun, truly enjoy every moment, and sometimes do nothing much at all, for no good reason, and love it. And there’s no better time than right now.

It’s almost August and now it’s almost dusk. Open the windows on the porch and let the breeze drift in through the screens. Listen to the crickets. Look at the lightning bugs and the first few stars, then a few more.

Get yourself a good summer beer, something wheaty but clean. Turn on the ball game, even if that overpriced outfielder is 0 for 4 and they’re about to drop another one. Sit on the swing and rock gently, easily back and forth. Faintly, from somewhere up the street, you can hear the kids laughing.

It’s almost August.

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1 thought on “Almost August

  1. cynleet

    I had a pre-school ritual of walking through the woods behind my house on a trail, about a mile or so, to the next town, then back home, “exploring.” School started two days after Labor Day. Summer was sticky vinyl car seats, swimming pool, family vacation at the lake, and trips to the library.

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