As a child August was an emotional tempest for me. It meant the end of summer, the only freedom a child knows. The end of days spent reading, swimming and laughing with sisters and friends. Meals were eaten later than usual, breakfasts on the deck as mornings warmed up and morning glories burst forth. Lunches rolled into long afternoons of reading and napping, frequently in a hammock or chaise lounge, followed by dips in the pool, diving contests and water sports. Dinner was always late, but who needed dinner when the sun lingered in the sky, as reluctant as we to end another summer day?
And then came August. It has always seemed strange to me that the New Year is in January. Everyone knows August is truly when the year begins. After all, August brings entry into a new grade, or even a new school, new friends or reacquainting with old ones, and all sorts of new subjects to be mastered and situations to be navigated.
August also meant excitement. New clothes, new books, a new school schedule to discuss breathlessly over the phone with friends. Advice from older siblings about which teachers were the best and which ones you had to watch out for. And finally, THE DAY, the first day of school with its highs and lows, every interaction a portent of the year to come, to be hashed and rehashed that evening with friends and sisters.
This summer August has once again caught me by surprise. All too suddenly, summer is drawing to its end. The sun is rising a little later and setting earlier. As a teacher, school year schedules are vying for my calendar’s attention, and I’m experiencing again that first day of school anticipation.
So as the year truly begins, I’m faced with the kind of self-reflection touted in January but altogether irrelevant in the midst of winter. Will I be able to juggle an increasingly demanding schedule? Can I continue to take steps to become a better writer in pursuit of publication? Am I putting myself on a path to achieve my goals, writing, teaching or otherwise?
The next few weeks will be busy ones as I plan lessons, organize a school year schedule to include time for teaching, writing and the people I want to spend time with as well. But they will also be challenging as I work through the questions August always brings and the expectation of new beginnings and old friends those first days of school promise.