One of the more significant crutches of my frail psychology is my desperate need to always have some near-future event that I’m looking forward to. A break from work- whether for a vacation or a holiday, extended visits from relatives, a good concert or a big game. This is the kind of thing that I need to punctuate life if I want to keep it livable. The calendar is kind enough to provide these things regularly, though unevenly– President’s Day is a poor refreshment from the chasm that is February, but still, it’s something. No matter where in the year you find yourself, there’s almost always something to look forward to.
Then comes August. August is after most things, and before all the rest. You’ve already taken all your vacations and summertime getaways; exhausted the local water- and amusement parks; walked all the neighborhood walks. Your yard is now officially starting to wilt under the desert heat and malevolent sprinkling system, that, I swear, if you had known about it, you would have never even bought the stupid house in the first place. Spring is nothing but some dim memories and some new gardening implements that now sit in a filthy corner of the garage; Christmas almost does not exist in any temporal sense. All that you have is August. Heat, drought, the occasional acquaintance who wants to talk about baseball, and the unrelenting infinity of consecutive workdays and serious living. In Utah, the approach of this arid expanse is marked starkly by the final holiday of summer- the 24th of July, a State holiday celebrating the entry of the first pioneers into this arid expanse. It’s a superb holiday, just close enough to the 4th of July to hint that the whole month is mainly intended for parties and watermelon. The whole state takes the day, if not the month, off.
And then you wake up the next morning and it’s pretty much August from here on out.
One does not look forward to much of anything happening in August (the exception: the one year I raised a successful garden; then August can actually be worth something). What makes it barely tolerable is the fact that one reeeeally does look forward to September. Everyone knows that college football is coming in September, and understands that if that month would just arrive, life would snap back into crisp, verdant vitality again, even as the leaves start to die. There really is no oasis in any desert as refreshing, as pure, as bonecrunchingly beautiful as that first Saturday of college football. August both reminds me of its approach, and stands as an impassable obstacle to its rewards. Cruel, cruel month.
I realized a few years ago that the formula for happiness is simple, though not exactly easy to create from scratch: You need a Saturday in early Autumn, preferably sunny but cool. In the morning, you do a few hours of yard and housework. In the mid-day and afternoon, you watch a college football game. Then you go out and do something fun with your family in the evening. Again, this is not something you can use in all situations (say, in August), but if you do happen to have a September Saturday handy, you’d be a fool to waste it in some other way. Trust me, there is no better use for this particular resource.
But until those Saturdays become available, there’s August to contend with. A whole month of it. Not sure exactly how I’m going to deal with it this year, but open to suggestions. Is it too late to start a garden?