Augustís calendar page may lack exciting entries, but
through the scorching heat and humid haze you can spot some reasons why itís
actually a pretty cool month (figuratively speaking, that is).
Of the 12 units into which we divide our year, August
seems the hardest to categorize. January welcomes the New Year, February
celebrates the warmth of love in the midst of cold, and March applauds the
coming of spring with a wearing oí the green. April honors fools and trees
and faith, May distills into its days the very essence of glorious spring,
and June opens the schoolhouse door and frees us to enjoy summertimeís
July throws patriotic parties that dazzle with the pomp
and pop-pop-pop of fireworks, while September heralds autumn and calls us
back to our lives at home and school and work. October, meanwhile, washes
over the landscape with cool breezes and paints it with generous splashes of
oranges and yellows and reds.
November offers us an opportunity to thank our Maker for
bounteous blessings, while December pulls family and friends together,
around the common hearth, to celebrate religious traditions and to mark the
close of another calendar year.
August, on the other hand ... well, itís a bit of an
enigma. Unlike its 11 calendar companions, August has no major holidays. And
calendar makers often seem to have difficulty simply figuring out what
imagery to use for the month. Letís face it, August is well-known (maybe
best-known) around these parts for two things: heat and humidity. So
calendars that pride themselves on beautiful images tend to shy away from
photos of crispy grass and perspiring people.
Yet, after cogitating on it for a bit, we were able to
come up with eight reasons to remember, and appreciate, this enigmatic 8th
month of the calendar year.
It was named after the Roman Emperor Augustus
AD), whose reign marked the high point of Roman culture, with written
classics during this time by such literary luminaries as Livy, Horace, Ovid
and Virgil, whose works are still being read today.
With kids out of school, itís a great month for
family vacations. Itís also the last month the kids are out of school, which
may prompt a different sort of parental celebration.
It joins July (with the masculine Julius and the
feminine Julia, Julie and Juliet) as the only two months that have both
masculine (August or Augustus, often shortened to Gus) and feminine
Arguably, it has the most awesome usage of its
name for a different meaning. August, of course, is also an adjective that
Mr. Webster has defined as ďinspiring awe and reverence; imposing and
magnificent; worthy of respect because of age and dignity, high position,
etc.Ē Which begs the question: Is August an august month?
Congress takes a recess during August, meaning
our congressional representatives are not in Washington debating the issues
of the day. Weíll let you decide whether thatís good or bad. Weíre pretty
sure what a public opinion survey on this question would show.
#6 There are
lots of good ó and good-for-you ó fresh fruits and vegetables available in
August. There are beans and squash and okra and corn and peaches. Which
leads, of course, to servings of butter beans, and squash casserole, and
fried okra, and corn on the cob with butter and salt, and peach cobbler with
vanilla ice cream. Pretty tasty rewards for enduring the heat and humidity
of the calendarís ďdog days.Ē
And speaking of heat and humidity, these may
well help us to appreciate autumn and spring all the more, right?
Finally, our favorite reason to remember and
appreciate August: Itís a great month for church revivals ... twilight
picnics ... fishing ... baseball games ... and electric cooperative annual
meetings. In fact, about a third of the electric cooperatives in Virginia
hold their annual meetings in August.
Back in the 1930s and í40s, when cooperatives were formed,
August was a great time for the mostly rural customer-owners of cooperatives
to get together and conduct the business affairs
of their utility, after spring planting and before fall harvest.
So hereís to an august month, rich in classical tradition,
filled with leisure pursuits, spared from the agonies of national political
dust-ups, offering us the fresh bounty of field and orchard ... not a bad
swap for that heat and humidity, now, is it?