I've never liked July. It is a long, hot month full of bright garish colors. When I think of June, I see soft pastels, window curtains blowing and fresh salads from the baby lettuce in the garden. When I think of August, I think of deep colors, greens and golds, simmering pinks. Deep ocean blue. August is a winding down month. School is getting ready to start, the vegetables from the garden are ready to be picked and canned, the days are hot but there is a taste of cool towards the end of the month. You know that Autumn is peeking around the corner.
But July? Ugh.
Hot colors abound. Hot pinks, hot yellows, eye squinting orange. The sun is so bright that it blinds you when you walk outdoors. The heat slams into you like a hammer. My garden is a riot of chaotic growth, the weeds stampede over everything if I even miss one day of cutting them back.
Sweat gathers in all the corners of my skin. It is uncomfortable and crabby making. Independence Day, my least favorite holiday, lands right smack dab in July. The dog spends the entire night either shivering in my lap, under my chair or under my bed. Poor old Socks. He fancies himself as a rugged sort of dog, a Marlboro dog, a rebel dog. But, the fireworks out him. He is just a plump, scared Scottie. He doesn't understand and no one will make the noise stop. The next day is always hard for Socks because his cover is blown. His true colors laid out for everyone to see. It is hard on his ego and it takes him a few weeks of squirrel and rabbit chasing before he starts to puff out his dog chest again.
I hate Independence Day too. The forced picnics and barbeques that usually take place in high heat and humidity. Summer on the prairie is not for sissies. I've never really enjoyed fireworks. They are loud and too invasive. And afterward the air reeks of sulfur.
I hate being cooped up in the air conditioning. I hold out as long as I can until a day or two of 97 degree heat coupled with 70% humidity bring me to my knees. I am sulky about turning on the air conditioning, it feels like I am losing the battle. I'm not really complaining, though. I am very grateful for it, would not want to go without it. But, while it feels nice to walk inside and feel the shadowy coolness of my house, I hate the chemical feel and smell in the air. It feels plastic, fake. I go to bed and inevitably wake up with a sinus headache from it. The only thing worse would be to go without air conditioning.
Work in my garden goes from a pleasurable task to a forced one. I have to get out there and battle those weeds before they choke my beans, my peas, my okra, my tomatoes, my potatoes, my zucchini. I wear my wide brimmed hat with the pink ribbon. Bing says I look lovely in it, like a poem about summer. I feel like a little old lady.
I like the skimpy sun dresses of summer, the shorts, the sleeveless tee shirts. I don't really like wearing sandals or flip flops or worse...going barefoot. When my feet are dirty, I feel slimy all over.
Taking the dog for a walk is easier in the summer than in the winter, but walking up hills is a tedious and sweaty business. When we get back home, Socks heads right for his water bowl and I load up my glass with iced tea. A headache sits on my left temple, throbbing in time to my heart. I throw an ice cube on the floor for him to play with and pull some green grapes out of the freezer to munch on.
Summer nights can be balmy and almost enjoyable. The best kiss of my life occurred on a hot July night. Star gazing is relaxing. But, I don't like that moment when you just can't stand the heat anymore, so you slide open the back door and then...WHAM....the cold chemical smelling air hits you square in the chest, freezing all the sweat droplets on your back. I take my shower and emerge shivering into my bedroom, pulling on an old tee shirt of Bing's that still retains her smell of lemons and cherries.
Television is not thrilling in July. All of my shows are in hiatus, and while we have a plethora of choices on cable, nothing sounds all that interesting in July. Books, too aren't able to hold me as they do in the other seasons. Sometimes, I turn on music and sit quietly in the dark with one candle glowing as I listen. Lately, I am listening to Lee DeWyze over and over. His So I'm Told and Slumberland albums form a drape around me as I close my eyes and allow myself to miss my partner, my child, listening. I put on Oasis, Joss Stone, Kings of Leon. They help. But, sooner than I want, it is time to climb into my big bed that only sleeps one this summer. I lay there feeling the cold air from the air conditioning waft around the room. The silence of the house unnerves me. I've grown used, over the years, to a light from the living room sliding up the staircase. Bing is a night owl in the summer. Now, she is a night owl in Africa, five hours ahead of me.
I remind myself that this is better than snow.
Yes. It is.
But, it is mostly just a different sort of annoyance. Instead of looking out at streets shimmering in white frost, the streetlights shimmer against the leftover heat waves of the day.
I lose myself at work. This helps. I walk into the huge building, listen to my heels clatter on the stone floor and then after I get off the elevator, the carpeting hushes everything. Bright lights remind me that daydreaming is discouraged. I go into my office, stopping to smile as the smell of coffee slides up and into my nose. One of the secretaries wishes me good morning, comes around quietly to fix my collar, which is turned up in the back. I grab my coffee with a splash of cream and head into my office to prepare myself for what is needed that day. It helps, yes. It helps to have something to center on other than that empty house.
I go about the chores of home. The garbage is to be readied on Thursday evenings. A dishwasher needs to be emptied, clothes to be taken down to the laundry room. A toilet to clean, a floor to sweep, a table to dust.
But, I am listening in the July heat and it finally occurs to me what I am listening for.
I am listening for the sound of August arriving. For the colors to mute, the air to stop suffocating me and most of all....
for my girls to come home.