Well God bless us all, August is finally done. Definitely my least favorite month of the year, I associate it only with stifling humidity, searing heat and back to school. We all took our summer vacations in the pool-cool months of June and July. We all celebrated with frosty drinks and Slip‘N Slide. But in the last week of August? The Slip‘N Slide is ripped. The leaves haven’t changed but their green is fading. The gardens are tired and weedy.
I know that if I’ve learned any lessons in the past few years, it’s to never wish time away. And, boy, when it comes to August, I try. But as its 31 days inch forward, it’s tough to be patient.
I actually didn’t always feel that way in August. In fact, Manitoba’s August is Kentucky’s July. First off, school never started until after Labor Day weekend so August still represented the second half of summer holidays. Also, August in Manitoba is quite lovely — still sunny and pleasantly warm, fun summer festivals abound, and the harvest is in full force.
Sure, you’re getting closer to school supply shopping, but you’re not quite there yet. Yes, winter is coming, but it’s still very easy to believe it’s not. It’s not June or December, but it’s a good, solid month.
But in Kentucky, no. At least not for me. And for me this has everything to do with the heat. After nearly 10 years here, I’ve made no advancement in becoming better equipped at handling August’s high temps. In many ways, August in Kentucky is January in Manitoba for me: I try to stay inside as much as possible. And if I can’t, I am reminded of how badly I react to this month. I watch my friends handle the heat effortlessly, having perhaps just a brush of sweat at the base of their hairline after a long jog on the hot pavement. Not me. I’m red, blotchy, bathed in sweat, gritty with salt. There is absolutely nothing comfortable or pretty about this. I badly want a shower and a Gatorade.
Compounding the problem this year is I’m training for a half marathon that takes place Sept. 13. Running on that date means training through the hot months previous to it and that’s been tough. There are many entries in my runner’s log that contain the sentences, “Another expletive slog. 90 expletive degrees. Had to expletive walk.”
But now, oh now, we’re in September. I’m writing on Sept. 1 and, yes, it’s as hot today as it was yesterday. But somehow it feels different out there. The nights are getting darker and cooler. There is talk of Halloween costumes amongst my stepdaughter and her friends, and my own friends are planning gatherings featuring chili and beer. This month we’ll go apple picking. Next month I’ll make butternut squash soup. And, wait, is that Thanksgiving I smell?
September, which in Manitoba was one of my least favorite months (impending winter sits on you like dead weight), is one of my favorites here. It ushers in fall, which is so long and glorious here I think 90 percent of the people I talk to say it’s their favorite season. Most of the boats are gone now, but the ones that remain belong to people who live here, people who can take the time to head to the lake to look at the fall colors reflected on the water. It’s a time for hiking, getting smoky from the campfire, watching football.
Of course, part of September’s charm is what it symbolizes: the kick-off to holiday season. Already I’ve seen some Halloween candy set up at Kroger and pumpkin paraphernalia being sold at Kmart. Is it early? Yes. But that’s one thing Kentucky has or, more specifically, the sales reps at The Sentinel have taught me: It’s never too early to start looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Facebook the other day, I saw one of them post Buddy the Elf saying there are only 19 Fridays left until Christmas. Now we’re down to 16. I have to admit, I’m already excited and moody September is helping it seem that much closer.
So, poor August. It tries hard. It doesn’t want to be the runt of the litter. It tries to keep up. And I’ll try to have more sympathy for it next year. But for now I’m looking forward to fall and all the wonderful things it has in store.