Only in the past few years have I come to appreciate mid-August as one of the best times of the year.
Prior to this, mid-August connoted little more than heat and humidity to me. When I was a kid, it usually fell right when our vacation out west was all over, information about the new school year had arrived in the mail, and I was ready to move ahead into fall, not spend more time with summer details. And once I became a parent myself, it was often around mid-August that I'd start to feel completely out of resources as far as kiddie summer fun and just want to go lie on a beach somewhere all by myself with a good book.
More recently, though, it's been different. Mid-August, I've come to realize, falls squarely at the interesection of all the glory of summer and all the anticipation of fall. Yes, it can be hot and humid (though it is neither right now), but unlike the heat of July, there's no question that even if the weather is oppressive, it won't last much longer. And just as when anything good is starting to draw to a close you appreciate it more, by mid-August I'm keenly aware of all that I love about summer.
No super-early school-day mornings (I usually get up at 6:30 on weekdays mornings in the summer, which is a full hour and a quarter later than during the school year). Abundant fresh vegetables, even with New England's limited growing season: corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, berries, peaches. Warm water in ponds and lakes; temperatures that are not-quite-frigid in the ocean. Daylight that still lasts well into the evening, but leaves cool, soothing nights behind when it finally fades.
And although in June, standing at the precipice of another summer, I often fret about how the kids will fill their time and wonder if I've made enough plans for them, by mid-August I have nothing left to worry about on that count. I know they've both done an adequate amount of reading and writing and math to keep them ready for a new school year, and I still have a long list of ideas for summer excursions that we haven't done yet.
This year, the last few weeks of summer vacation hold additional pleasures: a creative writing program for Holly, and a little bit of vacation travel for all four of us. So I know it will go by quickly.
But fall is always an exciting time, with new school year energy for the kids and longer days for the kind of work I love, and less pressure to keep track of what everyone is doing and whether they are using their time well.
As the summer was beginning, I wrote in my journal that maybe my goal for this summer should be to spend less time worrying about how everyone in my family spends their time. It's true: I do put a lot of pressure on the kids to fit in outdoor recreation and exercise and reading and writing and time with friends and time alone and bathing and housework every day, and by extension, I put a lot of pressure on myself to ensure that all of those things happen. Maybe the answer is in fact for me to worry less about it.
But by mid-August, I'm done worrying about it, not because it has stopped mattering to me but just because I can see that everything worked out fine. By mid-August, I can simply savor what remains of the summer, as the days dwindle toward fall.