On the left Molly stands with a sign that says 7th grade and to her right Gracie stands with a sign that says 9th grade.
The Sunday of Summer. Molly and Gracie, floating endlessly all month, talking and planning and getting ready for that first day of school picture and all it entails.

In my mind’s eye, the 12 months of the year form a circle. Each month also has a color. January (blue) begins the circle, December (Silver) completes it. One would think the top of the circle would be the end of June (light blue) and that the first of July (pink) would begin the downward trek into the second half of the year. This isn’t the case. My circular year loses its shape here as July continues upward. It is the first of August (Burnt Sienna) in my internal visual representation of the calendar year that direction shifts and the numbers increase in a downward direction. If this is hard to follow, feel free to re-read it a few times, perhaps draw a picture! 

When I explained this to my mother, she told me that since my birthday is at the end of July, that time of the year is a logical turning point for how I visualize it. Ok then, so if your birthday is in February does your internal visual representation make it’s turn there? That would be a strange looking circle. 

My father asked me why the years started over again, taking me back to where I started, repeating the same January that I had visualized in the previous year. Shouldn’t the years be linear and just continue on into eternity? He also questioned me on why I loved running track so much. Races to him were a group of people seeing who could get nowhere first! 

I learned to ponder these things with myself after that! Too much to think about.

I was around 10 years old when I had these conversations but they have stayed with me. I have very strong associations with the different seasons and months. February (brown) is a hopeful month because the days suddenly become long enough that it is light outside after supper and before breakfast. March (white), April (red) and May (Violet) are all hopeful months for me. September (light brown), October (dark brown) and November (Black) are all anxious months for me. June and July are glorious. Summer has arrived and there is no end in sight of the long hot lazy days of summer. 

Until August.

Like February, daylight makes a sudden change in August. It is darker in the morning and in the evening as well. Streetlights come on earlier. The sun hits the pool at a different angle. August is full of hot days, it is a 31-day month, it carries as much summer as June with one exception. It is followed by September, and that means Fall. Weekend days (Saturday and Sunday) are also equal in length. When the school bell rang or work day ended on a Friday afternoon freedom seemed plentiful! Monday was invisible at that moment. 

Until Sunday.

I remember lying in bed on Saturday mornings pondering the day ahead. “What shall I do?” I always had a stack of books on the bedside table and sometimes I read for hours. I played with my neighborhood friends, I visited family, I had playdates. Saturdays were, for the most part, a respite from the daily grind as I was growing up. They soon became track and cross country meet days. Dance Competition days. They are now CrossFit Coaching days. They will soon be dance class days once again!

Sunday mornings were completely different. Yes, I had a full day off ahead of me. But it was always followed by Monday. So, bedtime was earlier. Chores and assignments had to be addressed. Although I was home, free time would morph into preparation time. There was not too much about Sunday that felt carefree.

So here we are, sweltering away in the month of August. The days do not stretch out seamlessly ahead of us. There are signs along the way reminding us of what we need to do in this month so we are ready for next month. When I was in high school, the school year began after Labor Day. That was always a September start. Sports practices and other school activities typically started up that last week of August. The local swimming pools were open right up to that Labor Day farewell to summer. Yes, August was (and is) just as long as July. It is 31 days, but each one of them brings us one step closer to summer’s end.

My first year coaching cross-country in Concord, our return to practice date was Monday, August 12th! School began on the 26th. That was in 1990. It still fluctuates between that second week and third week of August. Those early morning beat the heat practices trained our bodies to wake up early. While trips to the beach and other scenic summer locations often follow those practices, you had to be back the next day. Summer becomes structured in August. 

Two of my favorite books contain the word August in the title. “Light in August” by William Faulkner takes place in the 1930’s American South. The characters in it and the experiences they go through could be happening today. The other book is called “August” and was written by Judith Rossner. It tells the story of a therapist and one of her patients as they navigate the month of August, when all therapists seem to go on vacation. Both stories have an anxious undertone. A perfect fit for my version of August.

Mondays and Septembers have wonderful qualities. They are seldom as bad as the Sundays and Augusts full of dread make them out to be. Sundays are not too different from any other day in my life now so I have been able to release the dread and enjoy the slower pace a good Sunday can deliver. Summer, however, will continue to end and August will continue to take us there. 

Time to find a good book with September in the title. Happy August!

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