By Bruce Stambaugh
I don’t need a calendar to know we’ve past August’s midpoint. The sights and sounds, signs and symptoms abound.
Day by day, the sun rises brilliant and bold closer to the center of the horizon. Ghostly layers of morning fog drift above row after row of tan tasseled field corn, the stalks stunted by the parching summer heat and subpar precipitation.
Teachers’ cars already sit early and stay late in school parking lots while their masters slave away in the sweltering classrooms on their own time, already preparing for the year ahead. Mothers, brothers, cousins, nieces, and nephews accompany the fortunate ones, cutting out letters for holiday bulletin boards or hanging artwork to brighten the sterile schoolroom.
Workdays and evenings repeat the same preparations at Amish parochial schools. Schoolyards get mowed, windows washed, desks and books readied, backstops repaired, all to ensure everything is a go for the teachers and scholars on day one.
The busy buzz of back to school sales replaced the monotonous cicada chorus. Youngsters were glad for both.
The Holmes County Fair is over, this year celebrating not just another successful week, but its new digs. Farmers secretly wish the county commissioners would move up the start of the fair by a month just to get the rain when it’s needed the most. It poured right on schedule.
Multi-shades of brown paint the landscape. Flowers, well watered in the morning, wilt by afternoon.
Applesauce, sweet corn, and tomatoes are canned and frozen within days of one another. There is no rest for the gardeners, chefs, and lovers of all things natural, homegrown, and home-cooked. Succotash in January is the plan.
Orange barrels multiply overnight. Everyone’s pace quickens, except in construction zones. Time is fleeting, but we can neither increase nor decrease its speed.
At night, windows are thrown open even in homes with air conditioning. The concerts of the katydids and crickets are the reward.
The Perseid meteor showers, even more spectacular this year than most, are waning, along with the lightning bugs. Nature’s fireworks announce autumn’s awakening like an opened wedding invitation.
The boys of summer are sorting themselves out in some divisions, and bunching up in others. It’s marvelous to see the Cleveland Indians giving it ago, and those annoying Yankees not so much.
Footballers, pro, college, and high school, practice in the heat. Come playoffs, you can see the quarterback’s breath bark out the plays, we’re that close to the cold.
This year the Olympics caught the tail of summer’s dog days if one cared to watch. I chose to view the evening sky’s gold, silver, and bronze as the insects sang.
American Goldfinches, some of the last birds to incubate, escort their young to the feeders. Their thistledown nests will soon weather away in the forsythias.
August sunsets try hard to outdo the sunrises. Often the orange ball simply slinks out of sight, leaving only contrails glowing in the west.
From month’s beginning to end, nighttime quickens, too, and we wonder where both August and the summer went. They’re still here, just in shorter increments.
Despite the mini-drought, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables color local produce stands. Yellow, gold, crimson, and purple early blooming mums clash with the ubiquitous Bubblegum petunias. No one complains.
Wildfires burn out west, the result of global weirding and human intrusion on wildlife habitat. Like the drought, the fires will end though the intrusive expansions will not.
As August fades, life’s steady heartbeat thumbs its way into September. Are you ready?
© Bruce Stambaugh 2016