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Musing: August: The February of Summer
Welcome to August! The best, most popular, absolutely superb month of the year.
Who am I kidding? August is the February of summer.
Winter starts off so magically. Thanksgiving blends into Christmas and New Year’s, creating the perfect festive atmosphere. I love bundling up in a heavy coat against the first bitter days of the year, strolling through the neighborhood, and admiring the decorations adorning houses.
On some magical day, the first snowflakes drift gently from the sky and beg to be caught on an outstretched tongue. When enough accumulates to have a snowball fight or build a snowman, I can’t wait to get outside and play.
As January moseys along, though, the gray skies, short days, and biting cold become exhausting. That falling snow means another day of shoveling the drive or walking around mounds left by the plows.
By the time February lands with a thud, I’m over winter. Spring doesn’t technically start until the equinox the third week of March, but I embrace the meteorological spring on the first of the month.
I’m an author—I make things up for a living. I don’t care if I’m rushing things.
A common expression here is the worry months—January and February. Spoken with a good mountain accent, the words rhyme. We’re tired of worrying about the cold. We’d rather focus on the approaching warmer weather and the explosion of nature coming back to life.
Summer works much the same way. Those first warm days of June are refreshing. The days are growing longer. Evenings become pleasant. We often eat our dinner outside, listening to the birds sing, the crickets chirp, and the neighbor’s dogs bark endlessly.
As July drags on, though, the heat, humidity, and buzzing mosquitos—not to mention the neighbor’s dogs barking endlessly—drive us inside to the air-conditioned comfort of the kitchen table.
Summer weather can be as dreary as winter. The easiest job in the world is to be a meteorologist in the Southern US during the summer. What’s the weather going to be tomorrow? Next week? Three weeks from now? Hot and humid with a chance of thundershowers.
Come the first of August—just like the start of February—my focus is on the next month and the start of the new season.
Autumn and Spring
Autumn and spring are my favorite seasons, and I know I am not alone in that opinion. When I surveyed readers about what their favorite season was, a full 50% answered autumn. Spring received 21% of the votes, knocked down primarily because of the prevalence of allergies. Summer at 19% and winter 10% received the lowest vote totals.
In those popular transition seasons, Mother Nature busies herself and change surrounds us. One day may be warm and the next cool. Rainy days intersperse with sunny ones, with the occasional surprise snow just for fun. Wild animals scurry about, preparing for the next phase.
Those are exciting times and I can’t wait for autumn, so I’ve come to realize August might be worse than February. For those of you who disagree, let me make my case with this list of differences.
Number of days
If both months stand in the way of a better season, would you rather wait more days or less? Yes, those 28 days of February can drag, but those three extra hot days in August are tough.
Too Hot or Cold
Some of the hottest and coldest weather occurs during these two months, so pick your poison. For me, I would much rather be cold. I can always add a coat or long johns or a wool blanket and repel the freezing weather. Unfortunately, you can only remove so much clothing to fight the heat. At least, if you want to avoid an embarrassing arrest record.
Sure, February brings blizzards and snowstorms. I’ve dealt with canceled flights and closed highways and all the other hazards of such difficult weather.
I’ve also been through more hurricanes than I care to remember, and August is when things really get “interesting” here in the Southeast.
Hurricane Isaias is popping up in my Facebook memories this week—not a pleasant reminder. That one was the beginning of the end of our time in Murrells Inlet, and it wasn’t a particularly powerful storm when it hit us. We decided we would take snow over hurricanes.
Not only does February have fewer days, but more of its days are holidays. The month starts with Groundhog Day, which may not be exactly festive, but it proves my point that we’re all thinking of the coming spring. Then we have Presidents’ Day, a great excuse to close some offices. And, of course, the big one is Valentine’s Day. As a bonus, some years include the Lunar New Year, Mardi Gras, and Ash Wednesday.
And August? In case you draw a blank, the biggest I could identify was Ashura, marking the day that Moses was saved.
And so, August is worse than February
My Ever Patient Partner In Life points out that there is one special day during August. EPPIL’s birthday.
But that’s at the end of August.
When it’s almost September. And Autumn.
Gratuitous Dog Picture: Plotting and Planning
Mr. Landon (aka, Boom Boom) contemplates his next series of gymnastic moves in the never-ending Couch Olympics of Chez Herd.
Have a terrific week. Stay in the air conditioning and dream of crisp days and changing leaves. See you next Monday.
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