Many will say “nothing is perfect.” But to me, August combines the beauty of summer’s warmth, the green explosion of trees, and the joy of returning to school. Where I live, in Washington, D.C., this August bursts with green. The rains of July make the trees a shine. Leaves on oaks, elms, and maples shimmer this time of year. They have not yet reached their tired green of mid-September. The various pines: cedar, holly, and more also glow with an emerald energy. The cicadas provide the buzz. But it seems to come from the trees themselves.
This year’s warmth has not been terribly humid or uncomfortable so the weather means t-shirts, flip-flops, (or slippers, as my Hawaiian friends would say) no socks, shorts everyday, and car windows down. The warmth wraps around you and reminds you that it is not snowing. It is in the wonderful mid-eighties. Soon, for me, it will mean a week at the beach to swim, run, read, and savor the empty, unplanned days. I know how rare this is and I appreciate it.
At the end of the month, comes the return to school. I prepare my calendar, classroom, new books, and plans with a rare “little boy joy.” I have always loved the return to school. As a teacher entering my twenty-ninth year, I look forward to new faces, familiar faces, great discussions, good writing. I am teaching American Literature yet again and always adjusting the course to make it more lively. This year, among other changes, my classes will read the entire Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. We will also read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. My Classic Literature students will read the same works, various parts of The Iliad, The Aeneid, The Inferno, and all of Hamlet. I like to call this class: “The Country of Big Questions.” Those classes will turn into Creative Writing- Poetry classes in January and I can’t wait for that. I anticipate great experiences with the Poets & Writers and the Onyx Club, both student organizations I love.
This August of 2018 brings with it a “big” birthday, as they say. I’m looking forward to that too. I don’t think of myself as the age I actually am. But I am beginning to appreciate the ascending numbers. I have internalized the truth of life’s brevity. I know it. It fills me with gratitude. Will this be my last August? I don’t think so, but it might be. Either way, I’ll savor it.
Photo: Boulder Bridge, Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.