By Bruce Stambaugh
Poor August. Like Rodney Dangerfield, our eighth month just doesn’t seem to get any respect.
August is the forgotten month. No holiday graces its 31 days. Still, we often get lost in all that August has to offer and forget the month itself.
August calls to us daily, appealing to our innate senses. The month tantalizes us with good things to eat, smell, see, touch and hear. August is an equal opportunity sensation.
Urban, suburban or country, August flies a multitude of colors. Cultivated and wildflowers grace gardens, country roads and even median strips on interstate highways.
The beauty is ever changing from month’s beginning to end. Cosmos, gladiolas, and hollyhock replace daylilies and daisies. Roadside royalties like asters and chicory are ubiquitous.
The colors of the floral circus attract fluttering visitors. A variety of gorgeous butterflies and exotically patterned insects help pollinate the blooms and entertain us humans.
August days grow shorter of course. But its sunrises and sunsets are unsurpassed. Often, smoke and gritty particles blown high into the atmosphere diffuse the sun’s rays to create glorious dawn and dusk events.
Locally, the county fair is in full swing. That means fun and excitement for children both in years and in the heart. It also often means at least one good soaker.
In a properly configured growing season, gardens, orchards, and croplands are yielding an abundant harvest. Despite the late start, this year looks like a bumper crop of color and nutrition except for those poor peaches that were frozen out by two consecutive harsh winters.
All harvesting doesn’t always come from the garden. Picking wild raspberries, elderberries, and even blueberries provides a satisfaction all its own. On a recent jaunt through the West Virginia mountains, I witnessed a few folks staining their hands with those precious fruits.
Commercial and domestic kitchens are abuzz with activity. Jellies, jams, applesauce, salsas and many other seasonal delights are all being cranked out at their demand, not always our convenience.
When they’re ripe, they take priority or there’ll be no goodies to spread on warm bread on a cold January evening. Besides the tasty preserves, generations of families and friends gather for the food frolic.
Back to school shopping makes the August to do list, too. Teachers, students, parents, and grandparents crowd the aisles snapping up pencils, paper, glue, and clothing. If you look closely, you’ll likely find a year’s supply of antacids in the teachers’ carts.
When the calendar flips to August, all of this rushes into our lives. Before we know it, Labor Day weekend will be upon us, and August will be but a memory.
The oats stand at attention in shocks atop an emerald carpet of alfalfa. The radiant afterglow of another golden August sunset bathed the entire landscape, toasting even darker the already amber grains.
In the evening, choruses of crickets and katydids lull you to sleep. If you awake during the night, you can take in another of August’s wonders. The Perseid meteor showers can entertain you with magical streaks of pure awe.
Only the House Wren, attending its second or perhaps third brood, continues to sing regularly. Other bird species, having done their duties, have mostly grown quiet.
Many migrating birds have already begun their journey south. In the birding world, August is considered the beginning of fall.
See what I mean about August getting no respect?
© Bruce Stambaugh 2015