Instructions For August

It’ almost August — that time when summer gets carried away.

It brings out all its most interesting stuff and puts it on display: fruit flies, plants that grow to Jurassic Park sizes, big thunderstorms and some kind of moisture that covers everything we own.

I poured myself a glass of iced tea today and a small country of fruit flies had somehow taken their last breath inside the plastic container.

“It’s almost August,” I thought and from here until I’m raking leaves I will share my life with fruit flies whose addiction to sugar and alcohol is beyond reproach.

But that is my only complaint about summer.

I love it so intensely that I have no choice but to hate its successors, and so I find myself trying to slurp up these last few weeks of heaven at the lake with a giant straw.

There should be a 12-step program for us summer lovers.

My expectations of everyone around me during the summer months is probably fairly unreasonable. (Where are your giant straws? I want to know.)

One Thursday, I went to a park to take in one of their summer concerts at the bandstand.

Picture this: A band was playing some lovely melodies about love and heartbreak and trains at the bottom of the beautiful, green hill from where we all sat with our lawn chairs and blankets. The lake was smooth and still and the sun was a giant fireball to the west as it was deciding whether or not to drop into some hills beneath it.

Across the lake, a hot air balloon was gracefully making its way somewhere and hung across from us for a while, as if it had been cued up and was carrying out its contractual responsibilities to make this the most picture-perfect evening that ever was.

There was nothing missing from this scene: children were playing in the grass, and there was a puppy running around, and summer was being its beautiful old self on a night we wished for good weather.

I wanted to run from door to door and call everyone down to the park. There were a few dozen of us there, but I couldn’t help but pity the thousands that should have been there sitting in the grass with us on a summer night in the last days of July.

Here are your instructions for today: Pick blueberries. Make peach pies right now while they’re perfect and ripe. Throw some blueberries in for good measure because there is no better way to taste the month of August.

Sit at the lake when the sun is setting with a blanket and your dog and don’t move until the last gasp of color has gone.

Quick: Drive down dusty country roads with the music blaring, holding a bag of cherries and a can or orange pop and stop at a little restaurant and have some pie for lunch.

Here’s what I know about August: It’s like your mother. It’s like your mother who used to come down to the basement when you were winning big at Monopoly to give you the 10-minute warning that it’s almost time for bed.

When the first week in August rolls around, summer is giving you your 10-minute warning. And no matter how much you cry and stammer your feet, the days are going to peel away and one day soon you’ll be putting your summer memories to bed.

My daughter sent me flowers for my birthday in July. It was a big, beautiful bouquet of flowers much beyond her means. There was every kind of summer flower in that bouquet and I loved it so dearly that I took it upon myself to make it last.

I watered those flowers and moved them around and added fairy dust and admired them for weeks.

When they started to die, I took the dead ones out and fluffed up the others and I hung on to them with stubborn love.

I will do the same for what is left of summer.


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