“The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”
~ Natalie Babbitt ("Tuck Everlasting")
Truer words have never been spoken regarding this most tormented of months. On the one hand, we have the beautiful weather that marks the true height of summer, but coupled with the realization that like all good things, this too shall pass.
Not to despair, though, there is much to do and only so much time to get it done. There is still time to get in a quick road trip or a trek to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Next week, the party hats come on and the games begin at the Griffith Western Days. Though I haven’t made it to what is generally considered the true high school reunion gathering at Western Days, I still have fond memories of this venerable festival.
It falls on the same weekend as the Battle on the Ridge in Highland, offering a chance to get out during the day for a Revolutionary War battle and head over to Griffith in the evening for bingo and a beer or two. That is where you will find former classmates and a few of my former students hanging out and telling tall tales (and even a few true ones).
We have indeed hit the top of the Ferris wheel and face that long descent into cooler weather and shorter days. That is all right, I suppose, since we will be exhausted by all that leisure and summer fun.
All of that energy will now be used to make sure that the kids are ready for their first day of school and the familiar routine. Back to school sales will feature the wonderful aroma of freshly-sharpened pencils and erasers.
If you are like me, the smell of school supplies always takes me back to those days in elementary school when you got two pairs of shoes for the year, a bag full of pencils and erasers, new jeans that make a sandpaper sound when you walked down the hall and a new shirt or two.
The idea behind the two pairs of shoes was that you would use one for gym and the other for the rest of the school day. This is an interesting idea, but we paid no attention to it and simply wore the first pair until they needed duct tape to hold together. Then, because the other pair had been sitting in the corner of your bedroom for five months, you thought “Hey, I could just switch to pair number two.”
Sure, I was slow, but I got it eventually.
So, indulge yourself at the pinnacle of the wheel and be ready for that moment when it all comes crashing down. Don’t get down - the ride down can be pretty exhilarating.
Everyone else is in the same boat after all. Babbitt wrote that the dog days of summer are “curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”
The view from the top can be quite a sight, with the future standing boldly in front of you.