There’s something about August. You could say that about any month, couldn’t you? It’s probably subjective, dependent upon each individual’s experience, but each month has a character that manifest’s in our minds, and that character color’s one’s perception of that month.
For example, January is clean and white. It’s probably because of all the commercials for “white sales” that come up after Christmas, but January is a clean slate, a new year. Of course, it helps that where I come from, on the border of Pasadena, the month invariably begins with a day of bright sunshine for the Rose Parade, even if clouds steal in under cover of darkness while the world’s eyes are on the field at the Rose Bowl.
But what of August, that second full month of summer? It’s hard to define, but I’ll try. For the sake of contrast, July, the other full month of summer, is all about bright colors. Green leaves provide shelter from bright yellow sunshine issuing forth from a brilliant blue sky. Red stripes on flags, brightly colored beach toys, chlorinated pools sparkling blue all show that July is all about possibility. As a child, when many of these impressions formed, July represented the beginning of summer, the shattering of L.A.’s June gloom. It’s like July would burst on the scene with pyrotechnic flare and announce that summer really had arrived and two carefree months stretched between “now” and the work-a-day existence that came with September.
But August, August is different. It’s still sunny and hot, but it’s different. If the colors of July are bright and vivid, the colors of August blend: orange, brown, purple. They’re moodier, more subtle, the difference between midday and dusk. The jubilant sense of possibility gives way to a sobering, and possibly more meaningful reality. Summer plans move from future to present to past. Summer fantasies begin to wind down in the face of reality’s new beginning waiting just over the border in September. But it’s still summer. It still differs from normal and in that difference is a time burgeoning with subtle magic. It’s the magic of transition. It’s the magic of knowing that summer is impermanent, that it must end and give way to new possibilities in the fall. It’s magic that must be harvested and stored up in the heart for the long haul of “normal” that we endure until July makes its entrance again.
I’m not sure where this is coming from except with Harry and Annie starting Kindergarten and preschool respectively, I feel suddenly immersed in that rhythm that revolves around the school year. As I’ve been disconnected from that cycle, the feelings have lain dormant for years, making summer just another season. But now, with a bona fide school year standing astride the horizon, August’s magic has returned.