If August as a whole is the Sunday of the year, then having a birthday in early August is like having a party on Sunday morning. Summer is in full swing, we are often in the midst of a major heat wave, and I can remember a few years when the heat finally broke and I could ride my bike or bike to the local horseback riding place right on August 5, the day itself. Lots of years I was away at camp, including some years as an adult when we were at our Appalachian Mountain Club family camp. Twice it was the morning we left, and the wake up bugle was accompanied by a camper’s trombone rendition of Happy Birthday. I so loved this.
Only one year it happened mid-week and that’s when I learned about the camp tradition of tossing birthday people in the lake. They took a lithe 15 year old first, who shared my day. I think they may have regretted hoisting my 40 something year old petard from the dining hall to the lake, especially as I was muscly and dense from training for the Pan Mass bike ride. The lake was cold and bracing, but still fun, even with a full lunch in my belly.
But the thing I never had to contend with was Back to School notices. Those arrived a couple of weeks after my birthday, thus it felt completely unsullied by scholastic nonsense. Although beginning to edge into sight, August 5th was wholly about fun and a different structure or lack or structure: full of kickball games, or tetherball, tennis, mosquitos, sleepovers and swimming in the lake.
When a Kohl’s flyer arrived this year in mid July, gaily announcing back to school specials, I literally shouted, “Noooooooo!” The kids have just been released from school. It was waaay too early to be anticipating the return. There is such a thing a planning, and I am a fan of that, but then there is losing the moment, which is tragic. To think about the return to classes in mid-July is to wish away the summer, with all its time outdoors, music in the park, light until after dinner, blueberry pie and the opportunities to try new things, read books, get together with family and friends. People can’t get the break that summer brings if they are busy getting ready for the next round of school.
The worst offense of all, though was my quick trip to the supermarket the day after my birthday (thus, August 6). There outside the Market were those sturdy, green, uniformly even and prolific plants, Mums. I adore fall, perhaps even more than summer, but these heralds of autumn are not welcome until my Impatience have quit. And that is long from now, I can tell you that.
What was worse, I saw one woman strut by with her cart loaded with several of these unopened blooms. She was fortunately far enough away that I could refrain from demanding what she was doing with these harbingers of summer’s end. She was probably heading to Kohl’s next. This woman obviously does not have children with early August birthdays.
To all of you I say, drink from summer’s cup- enjoy the sun, the sea, the lake and the hills. Be undaunted by flyers and Mums. Dance in the yard, and honor the grill, indulge in corn and peach cobbler. Even without a birthday in early August, I invite you to revel in the ease and breeze of summer Sunday morning.