It is late. It is dark. The sky is covered with the light of the full Sturgeon Moon, also known as the Green Corn Moon. I love the full moon, but tonight I am looking for the Pleiades. Every year I look forward to the Pleiades in hopes that I see a shooting star … one or a dozen, but this year, with the rain showers in northeast Indiana and the full moon, they are hard to see.
I pull the blanket a bit closer as I am determined to wait it out to see at least one. These are the nights of reflecting. These nights, with no one else out in the backyard, the early signs of autumn creep into the night air.
There is something pungent about the air in August. Go into your backyard and take a whiff, and tell me, yes, the air is August. Even though August gives way to autumn, my personal favorite time of year, it is a sad scent as well.
We shift in August. In June, as written in “Dandelion Wine” by Ray Bradbury we have “ … a whole summer ahead to cross off the calendar day by day … ” Now the days are crossed off and summer comes to a screeching halt as the kids go back to school.
I cannot speak for you, or for those who have children in day care all summer, but for me, summer meant another year of growth for my children. Going back to school was another year closer to their leaving me. Aaron used to say, “Don’t tell me it is time for school until the night before we have to go.” When they were little I did just that. Tucking them in bed in that late August heat (no air-conditioning on our farm), I would gently tell them school would begin the next day. Perhaps they knew. Perhaps it was the sharpening of the pencils or the clean backpacks. Perhaps it was the tilting of the sun or the birthday of the twins.
After their ritual of stories, I always sat out on the swing on the porch and looked out over the fields. Sometimes Doc would be there getting ready for harvest, but usually it was quiet. Fireflies dotted the landscape, and the early crickets joined in with the cacophony of other night sounds. There was always an owl somewhere in the distance. Those nights I remember as counters of their youth slipping away. Finally, I would do one last check of the barn, and call it a day.
On this night of waiting for the shooting stars, I think of all those August nights on the farm we waited for the meteor showers. Taking blankets and thermoses of hot chocolate outside, we watched until our eyes burned. The boys grew tired, and always wanted to go to bed, but then — but then a star would shoot across the sky in such wonderment that we never wanted to go to bed. That’s the way it was. That’s the way it should be. I look around my empty garden wishing they were here, but they are not. Finally, it is time to go in. Harley, my cat, follows me up to the darkened house for one more treat before he goes out for the night. Where he goes, I know not.
A couple of weeks ago someone posed the question to a group of us, “So, what would you do if you only had six months to live?” The answers were wonderful and varied, “Go to Paris, Rome, watch the Cubs win, see the grandchildren.” It was my turn. What would I do? Probably it is different for all the different times of the year, and my answer would never be the same. But on this night, I said, “I would want to watch the shooting stars with my children one more time, and smell August.”
“June dawns, July noons, August evenings over, finished, done, and gone forever … ” states Douglas in “Dandelion Wine.”
Well, not quite over, let’s give it a few weeks. And, hey, it is still August, and there is still much to do. Kayaking, swimming, star-gazing. blueberry picking.
It’s not over ’til it’s over, right?
I make tea before bed and sit out on the front porch once again listening to August, and there it is. My melancholy disperses, and I smile as I hear two folks in quiet conversation walk down my street.
August. Here. Now. Step outside. Isn’t it delicious?