Terry Marotta: Ode to August

Terry Marotta

You know it’s August when, on making your bed in the morning, you find a spider or two and carefully brush them away so they can have a nice day, too.

You know it’s August when live birds show up in your room at 2 a.m. and you just bring them outside before stumbling back to bed, not even stopping to wonder how they got there.

In these weeks, you just figure it’s live-and-let-live. You’re just too serene to stress anymore.

That’s not how you feel in July when some you’re still wound tight, still coming down from the high-wire act of the school year. It’s certainly not how you feel in June, after enough year-end recitals, weddings and graduation bashes you were practically living in the greeting card aisle.

But it’s how you feel now, pretty much.

Anyway it’s how I feel.

Over the last three months, I was fizzy with overfunctioning. That whole time all I could think was “August! Just get me to August, Lord!”

The day before August began, I drove 300 miles in 24 hours to bring our uncle up north to the place he loves best: the New Hampshire Lakes Region where he has been coming, boy and man, since the 1930s.

He’s reluctant to stay overnight here – he’s almost 88 and badly crippled by arthritis – so we make it a day trip always. And that particular night, having brought him home, I had no choice but to dash right back up north again, since my husband, David, and I were slated for childcare duty so our kids could go to a wedding.

I did those uncle-returning miles in full manic mode. I did ‘em like they were nothin’, I dropped him off at his apartment at 9:35 p.m. and actually made it to my local Verizon store 90 seconds before the mall closed at 10:00.

“My phone is dying!” I cried to the young tech, regarding my next challenge.

She placed my phone on her little diagnosing gizmo. “Actually,” she said cheerfully “this phone is dead! And we’re closing anyway. Come back tomorrow.”

But tomorrow I had to be back up north again by 8 a.m., both to tend those babies AND to begin our week’s vacation!

So August would come, but I wouldn’t have my phone? For seven whole days? What a curse, right?

More like what a blessing.

The day after the big child-care day we were all at the lake and I was STILL changing diapers and giving sink baths, which of course I love doing.

But by early afternoon the little ones were sleeping, so I took pen and paper down to the dock to make a food list – where I fell dead asleep stretched out on its old sun-warmed boards with only a thin beach towel for a pillow. Fell asleep, and did not wake for two hours, even when one little one came swimming. Even when he stepped on me by mistake and splashed me while jumping in the water.

By 7 that night, everyone had left except for us rickety elderly, by which I mean old Dave and his creaky wife, Terry, and our two snoozy old cats.

I went to bed right then and slept for 13 hours.

And when I woke, it seemed like May again, with the summer all before me - and there, dear reader, lies August’s paradox: the faintly vexing truth that only when its end is in sight does lovely, delicious, abundant-life summer seem most eternal.

Write Terry at tmarotta@comcast.net or c/o Ravenscroft Press PO Box 270, Winchester, MA 01890. Any time after this column comes out, go to her blog, “Exit Only,” for friskier late-summer-related fun.