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The Opposites of August

August is my favorite month. It always has been. I love August because it is the month, in the northern hemisphere, when one can feel summer in its full, unrestrained power. August means sunshine. August means rich, full, green trees. August means short pants and bare feet. August means the beach. August means swimming.

When I was a boy, August held endless bike riding, swimming in the afternoons, basketball in the alley at night. August meant camping in the San Bernardino National Forest. August meant Jenks Lake, Dollar Lake, hiking through Slushy Meadows to Mount San Gorgonio. As a teenager, August was Newport Beach, bodysurfing and goofing off. Yes, I was a lucky kid.

As one who has lived most years of his life on the academic calendar, August also means the end of summer vacation. I always find myself wanting to hold onto August. I rarely want to let it go.

Perhaps it’s this “end of summer vacation” idea that gives August its mournful edge. I’ve always loved the warmth and casual quality of August, so I’ve always been sad to see it end. Today, on August 1st, I’m mindful of this. The days are warm, restful, and wide open. I still have plenty going on in my life this August, externally and internally. I still find myself thrilled that August is here. But I also notice that I already want August to slow down. Take your time, August. There’s no rush.

It’s these contrasts that I love. The full-blown power of summer’s sun and its unplanned days, while at the same time, I know there are only weeks left, until I will have to gather myself and get ready for school. I’m beginning to read new books I’ll teach this coming year. I’m starting to imagine the students who will sit before me as I begin, this August, in a new school.

But enough of those thoughts. The contrasts will come in a few weeks. Today is only August 1st. It’s still a day with enough sun and time for a trail run under the pines. There are still days at the beach coming. I’ll appreciate the contrasts soon enough. For now, I savor every August day I get.

 

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