My favorite month of the summer slipped in early this morning.
Growing up in the city, in an un-airconditioned apartment, it meant that, psychologically, we'd beat the hottest portion of the summer.
While, obviously, August and even September can bring extreme heat, once July goes into the record books, I always feel victorious.
I want to say "We made it, Ma," to my mother who shared (and taught me) my philosophy about the months of the year and how to feel about them. The first day of September, for example, is more of a "new year's day" than the first day of January.
Because the new school year begins in September, of course. Everyone gets a fresh start, accompanied by smooth sheets of lined paper, bright yellow pencils that need sharpening, a 24-box of Crayolas and one of those chubby pink erasers with the angled ends.
School supplies signified a new year more than champagne and Dick Clark. And September still feels like that to me although not only am I centuries past my own school shopping days but past my son's, as well.
Sometimes I go into stores and fondle and sniff the familiar items, nonetheless.
School supplies started getting a lot fancier for the boys--back packs, calculators, strange things called "trappers" for their papers and even little plastic ice packs in cute shapes (we had, among others, an apple and a baseball) that would fit into lunch boxes so the mayo in their sandwiches wouldn't turn on them by lunch.
When I was in school, did mothers not worry about bad mayo? I guess not because no one had ice packs in their lunch boxes. I, myself, was a brown-bagger from junior high on.
But the season at hand is still summer and August will usher in one of my favorite sounds--the zooming, humming rattle of cicadas. Their clatter is the daily sound track of late summer and seems to fit perfectly with the sheen of the green, gold days topped by periwinkle sky.
August is also time for commercials for the new television season which, when I was a kid, was the one time a year my mother would spring for a copy of the TV guide at the supermarket checkout.
We'd read what was in store for us on the small screen and plan what new shows we'd watch or ignore.
"Streets of San Francisco" was a clear no. "Mork and Mindy," a clear yes, even though I was little creeped out when they finally got married.
Did Mork actually possess the standard equipment in his space pants? No one ever knew.
Mindy took a big risk.
In August, the summer clothes, which were already on clearance racks in July, are further depleted. Their bright pastels are replaced with the rich shades of fall fashion....hues that often mirror the tips of the swamp maples that, as the first trees to change color, start to turn in my yard this month.
It's the time of year that, as we approach September and --God willing -- air conditioners are turned off and windows thrown open, the cats particularly enjoy.
Their ears rotate as they listen to the sounds of the neighborhood, protected by the safety of the screen in the door or window.
If we're lucky, it's the month of cooler nights, better sleeping, trips to ice cream parlors for cones or Italian ices (one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of lemon, please) and drives to local produce stands as all the vegetables start to yield their full bounty at local farms.
Happy August, everyone!