The Sassy Sandpiper: Half-Past Lammas
August – what’s good about it?
By M.R. Wilson, Columnist, TB Reporter
Lammas or Lughnasadh, the cross-quarter day that falls on Aug. 1, has been here and gone, which means the planet wheeled onward in its revolution around the Sun past the half-way point between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox.
Aren’t you glad?
Lammas/Lughnasad is pronounced “Luh-MAAS” and “Loog-NAH-sad,” respectively. (To achieve the authentic nasal quality of the latter Gaelic word, place a clothespin on your nose.) Lammas was a harvest feast in the old days – the first of the season, as a matter of fact. Here in the 21st Century, we don’t pay it much attention, which is a shame.
We’re too busy making sure our air conditioners keep running, as heat and humidity in Central Floridian August can lay you out flatter than Granny’s pancakes. We’re also wrenching our kids back to school, another darned shame, because don’t you remember those glory days when you didn’t have to endure books and teachers’ rotten looks until after Labor Day?
I do, and I still grouse about it. Every year.
Truthfully, I don’t like August. Period. I call it “Aghast” much of the time.
Well, firstly, it’s the muggy heat, like I said. Then there’s a string of unhappy anniversaries in August (death days, especially), punctuated by a few happy ones, like birthdays. There’s worrisome stuff, my Arizona cousin’s upcoming knee-replacement surgery, for instance; a couple nearing their nineties leaving home for an assisted living facility; all kinds of concerns that never plagued anyone in the Dog Days of August of our youth.
Mean old planet Earth just brings stuff like that, rolling through the fabric of space, conspiring with gravity to play cruel tricks on us elders: drooping noses, sagging skin, sinking buttocks, growing jowls, elongating earlobes.
It’s all worse in August.
To be fair, there is some good. Mama cat Boa sporting a new, luxurious fur coat and doing cat-things again. (She snuggles nearby, chases dust bunnies, stalks lizards, rolls in catnip. It took years for her to recover from the outrage of her six grown children never leaving home.) Marigolds. Cool, crisp raw food. My young friend Sarah Ann Frazier in Philadelphia. She’s an accidental nurturer of hornworm caterpillars, those HUGE progenitors of sphinx months.
The Perseid meteors arrive, and on the 21st of the month, the first total eclipse of the sun visible in the U.S. in 38 years casts its ribbon of darkness across the continent. Hotels in my hometown of Scottsbluff, NB, are booked up.
Peace be with you, August.
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