August is a strange month, different in
distinctive ways from its 11 brethren. Itís likely the most honest and
up-front of the 12 packages of days that we humans use to measure our
planetís journey around the sun. August is pure, concentrated,
in-your-face SUMMER. Thereís almost never a tinge of coolness to
temper the brutally hot days, thereís usually little rain at all, and
that which does come often splatters down in violent machine-gun sprays
onto the hot, dusty land.
August is also the only month that I could find that
has no major holidays. None. Not a one. Zippo. Every other month
has a major holiday (yes, Fatherís Day in June is a major holiday,
though it perhaps rightly takes a back seat in sequence and sentiment to
Motherís Day in May). Unlike any other month, August is simple,
straightforward, unadorned and unpretentious. It looks you in the eye
and gives you a very firm, very warm handshake, though it doesnít say
And yet, a gentle scratch beneath the surface reveals
a depth you might not have realized. August is not all wails and woes
related to heat and humidity. By day, August provides ripening apples and
corn, squash and beans, tomatoes and watermelons, peaches and
blackberries. By night, August serves up one of the great natural
fireworks shows of the celestial year, the Perseid meteor showers that
have graced the nighttime sky and excited the human imagination for
Its lack of formal celebrations and its languid pace
actually make August a perfect time to pause and appreciate the many
blessings we as Americans and Virginians enjoy. Itís a fitting time
to pause from your labors and to travel with your family. Itís summer at
its most intense. Yet its very intensity reminds us that just ahead are
shorter days. The light will soon grow gauzy, and the air will grow cooler
as the leaves grow warmer, tinged in tones of orange and yellow and red.
August also kicks off the ďhigh seasonĒ for
cooperative annual meetings across Virginia, as nine of
Virginiaís 13 local electric cooperatives hold their meeting in August
or September. The other four co-ops hold theirs just a bit earlier, in
June or July. Despite the heat, thousands of local cooperative
member-owners like you gather in high schools and open-air pavilions and
auditoriums from Cumberland Gap to the Eastern Shore. At these annual
exercises in the power of democracy and the pleasure of community, members
elect other members to represent them on the board of directors, and
make any needed changes to cooperative bylaws and policies.
Summer seems an appropriate time for cooperative
annual meetings, inasmuch as many of the most grueling farm chores that
electricity lifted off the shoulders of rural people were done in the heat
of late spring and summer. And itís tempting on a scorching summer
day to ponder an unanswerable question: If rural people across Virginia
and across the country in the 1930s and í40s had not joined together and
formed cooperatives to provide themselves with power, would there still be
rural areas today without electric service?
Thankfully, itís a moot point. The foundation
built by those courageous men and women two generations ago was made of
solid stuff, and remains strong and firm today. Tired of waiting for
others to serve them, they decided to work together and serve themselves.
Their legacy endures, in reliable service from local people. In providing
this service at cost. In operating in a democratic fashion. And in having
a rock-solid commitment to the community for the long term.
The cooperative promise, in August and always, boils
down to this: As long as our members need us, and as long as theyíre
willing to work together to support what is truly their business, weíll
continue to exist, to grow, and to prosper.