August. The bittersweet month. Month of flat water, humidity, spectacular thunderstorms, and days so hot every step taken is something of an effort. Month of back-to-school shopping. Summer’s swan song is upon us.
In our part of Canada, autumn shows us a card or two in August. Today, for example, there is a hint of something in the air, not exactly a chill but more like an edge to the air. Summer is still here – the humidity level is somewhere around 80% and it’s sunny and hot but autumn is sprinkled through the ether, like the hint of an unnamed spice sprinkled in a savoury sauce. It’s not right in your face, it’s subtle but there all the same. A reminder.
Now that I’ve been reminded, thank you very much, I have no choice but to look forward. Don’t get me wrong: I adore autumn. Here in the more eastern provinces, we enjoy spectacular fall colours – the colour red no, scarlet, actually exists here where it is absent out West. Days will still be warm with cool nights, perfect for sleeping. We enjoy this reprieve from both summer’s swelter and winter’s freeze until about the end of October. Then, Canada reminds us where we live. Party’s over, get out the woollys.
I had a tree off my back deck in Calgary that dropped every leaf in August. The minute summer’s light began to wane, the tree went into a full-blown depression and dropped its leaves. Here, the maples hold on to every glorious blazing leaf until a very rude wind blows, ripping them away.
I’m not ready. I never am. I only just dragged the box of winter jackets down to the basement a couple of weeks ago. I’ve only just begun to hear the cicadas and the crickets. The mosquitoes have only recently given up, making my front porch tolerable again. I’m not ready for darker evenings and frigid mornings. My tomatoes are not ripe yet!
The cold weather comes no matter how much I complain. In the years I’ve lived here, I’ve tried a variety of tactics to fool myself or deal with the inevitable (hard to fool yourself in Calgary where winter can kick you in the teeth in August, no gentle reminders there). Maybe this year I’ll invest in some beautiful sweaters in bright colours to keep my mood up. Something that makes me feel good when I put it on over the 37 other layers. I will waddle forth in my 38 layers, trying to put a brave face on.
Oh, who am I fooling? Exactly no one. I will whine and complain from the end of October until the end of…let’s see…April. I will grit my teeth and consider a life of crime to afford me winters in the Caribbean, as I always do. I will be the only one toasting the Winter Solstice in my family, longing for longer days and the heat of summer.
Until then, I will try to make the most of what’s left. I need to go talk to the tomato plants and tell them to hurry up – there’s something in the air.