“Oh, the summer night,
Has a smile of light,
And she sits on a sapphire throne.”
– Barry Cornwall
The sunsets always get more grand in August. If you happen to be inside the house, that flood of unique golden light with its long shadows–evidence of high summer– draws you quickly outdoors, and already you see that the sun is slowly sliding south. Sunsets feel more precious now. After several weeks of hot days and nights, a cold front came through with a bit of rain and blustery winds, and temperatures for the upcoming week look to be a pleasant mid 70’s. I know I’ll soon be talking about the hint of coolness behind even the warmest days. I’m already talking about how dark it is at 6 a.m.
But, I’m letting August just be August, which is often filled with nostalgia and a touch of melancholy, with summer’s end just around the corner. Both Sarah and Joy were born in the month of August, and as Joy turns 48 tomorrow, I wonder where the years went, and miss what seemed to be such an innocent time. I remember those summers as slow, carefree and full of hope, finished off by back to school shopping, and the sweet smell of new pencils. I know I sound like a ” in the good old days” grandmother, but there is no denying the tempo of life was much different before the digital age, and going back to school in the fall did not threaten the lives of teachers and students. Covid-19 accentuates all of the losses we’ve ever had.
In his book Consolations, David Whyte writes that “Nostalgia is not indulgence…but is something we thought we understood but that we are now about to fully understand, something already lived but not fully lived, issuing not from our future, but from something already experienced; something that was important but something to which we did not grant importance enough, something now wanting to be lived again, at the depth to which it first invited us…”
This was when my daughters were just children
playing on the rocky shore of the lake,
their hair in braids, their bright-colored jackets
tied around their waists. It was afternoon,
the shadows falling away, their faces
glowing with light. Whatever we said then
(and it must have been happy; it must have
been hopeful) is lost as I am now lost
from that life I lived. This was when nothing
that I wanted mattered, though all I wanted
was happiness, pure happiness, simple
as strawberries and cream in a saucer,
as curtains floating from a window sill,
as small pairs of shoes arranged in a row.