How Did it Get to be August?

Cat in the catmintI wrote in May about taking time for spring, and now I’m wondering if I took time for summer, because I’ve looked at the calendar, and summer’s almost gone.

There is a time, around the Fourth of July, when the summer stretches out in front of you, lolling in the sun like my cat in this picture. It seems the sun will shine forever, that you might even grow weary of all that glare. And then — here in the Poconos, anyway — the first of August rolls around, a cool breeze drifts in the window one night, you see a yellowing leaf on a tree the next morning, and it hits you: another summer is on its way out and you never sat all morning on the porch swing reading a novel, let alone your entire summer reading list, you never had that cookout with friends down the street, you didn’t progress from swimming half a mile to swimming even one more lap (we won’t even talk about the mile you had planned. You meaning me, meaning abject failure).  In fact, despite all your optimistic June plans, you weren’t able to transform your life in eight weeks.

That can be depressing. But if you look at what you did do, perhaps you had a summer after all.  Maybe you watched fireworks explode overhead, ate fresh tomatoes with basil and mozzarella and corn on the cob, cut fat blue hydrangeas that you grew yourself, ate on the porch as often as possible, looked at the stars, swam in the sea, danced outside, listened to kids laugh and shriek on the lawn into the evening, watched your cat’s pupils narrow to slits as she basked on a rock, saw fireflies in the garden outside your screen door.

See? There was a summer there.  You were just too busy summering to remember.

While thinking about this, a poem showed up in my inbox — a poem about not wasting time — not just in summer, but always.

Next Time
by Joyce Sutphen

I’ll know the names of all of the birds
and flowers, and not only that, I’ll
tell you the name of the piano player
I’m hearing right now on the kitchen
radio, but I won’t be in the kitchen,

I’ll be walking a street in
New York or London, about
to enter a coffee shop where people
are reading or working on their
laptops. They’ll look up and smile.

Next time I won’t waste my heart
on anger; I won’t care about
being right. I’ll be willing to be
wrong about everything and to
concentrate on giving myself away.

Next time, I’ll rush up to people I love,
look into their eyes, and kiss them, quick.
I’ll give everyone a poem I didn’t write,
one specially chosen for that person.
They’ll hold it up and see a new
world. We’ll sing the morning in,

and I will keep in touch with friends,
writing long letters when I wake from
a dream where they appear on the
Orient Express. “Meet me in Istanbul,”
I’ll say, and they will.

“Next Time” by Joyce Sutphen, from After Words. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2013.

Once again, fabulous poems come my way via The Writer’s Almanac. You can subscribe to it, and link to the poets’ books, and buy them, through the site.

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21 Responses to How Did it Get to be August?

  1. Jane Abernethy says:

    Love your observations. Love you. Dad and I are outside of Syracuse. We meander some wineries and pay calls on family haunts tomorrow. Chautauqua tomorrow. xxoo, Jane

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Charles Rusbasan says:

    Meet you anywhere. What a lovely email. Thank you.

    Chuck President C.R.I.H. International

    Sent from my iPad Mini

  3. Winifred says:

    Bird, Loved your piece, especially: “See? There was a summer there. You were just too busy summering to remember.” I’m busy summering, but loved the tap on the shoulder to hear about yours…

  4. Grant says:

    Thanks Jen

  5. Betsy finley says:

    Jen. You are such a talented lady. You remind us that we all need to take a deep breath once in awhile to rearrange our priorities.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

  6. SueP says:

    I’m heading to NY on the train, enjoying reading. I’m so glad we got to do some summering together! And maybe some falling to look forward to as well. xo

    • Thanks Toots! We DID have the trail map for Wilderstein–it was the same one we’d been using all along. And we were steps away from the petroglyph. Oh well, next time. Maybe this fall.

  7. Janice Brown says:

    Thanks! I was able to fly while reading your message, and it took me above the calendar! XO Janice


  8. George Ketigian says:

    Great Jenn !! Thanks for so eloquently putting into words the confusing, sad realization that summer is indeed on the way out…and helping me feel better about it !!! Thanks for sharing ! George

  9. jjw says:

    Yes, summer is almost gone, but the tomatoes and peaches are at their peak, so I’m still enjoying it all!

  10. Julie Papadimas says:

    I’ve often said that I wish summer would last long enough to tire of it, yet that never happens. And winter drags on forever. . . . A beautiful full moon last evening rising along the horizon just above the Atlantic and shimmering on the ocean is just another reason that I’d like an Endless Summer to be possible.

    Sent from my iPhone

  11. Jamie says:

    Jennifer, you’ve the heart and soul of a writer…definite autumnal hints here in Ireland on this beautiful sunny Sunday…thanks for reminding me to turn off the computer and head outside to enjoy it…

  12. Kris Ronningen-Fenrich says:

    Finally getting to this — love it. Thanks for sharing — all sooo true Big kiss (grosses bises) K Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2013 02:25:14 +0000 To:

  13. Carol Green says:

    Jen, I read your WAWDWOL entry and had to say aaah…the happy sigh one, not the Aaaack one. You sure have a way with the words, now I am off to the porch to read:) thank you! Love you, Carol

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