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August Is the Cruelest Month

August 4, 2006

April has certainly got cruel down pat. Here in Michigan, after we’ve suffered through months of cold and gloom and slush and frozen noses, we expect a little something in March. A single tiny snowdrop flower, for instance, or a warm ray of sun. But no. March is not spring here. Now May is definitely spring, with snow fairly rare (but not unheard of). So April, in between, must have some spring, right? Oh, no. April can be so cold and dark, so full of icy black slush and indoor recess, that one gives up hope altogether.

August, however, wins the prize. She puts on the sunniest, most glorious face. The lake is warm, the days long and hot and lazy, the garden bursting with lilies and dahlias and late daylilies coming on strong.

Under this perfect summer show, however, is a knife, probing at one’s guts. An unexpectedly cool night. A dingy feather poking through a goldfinch’s shiny yellow plumage. And worst of all, Traitor Trees. You know the ones. Maples with a startling orange branch blazing among the green. “Sorry, darlings,” they laugh, “fall is here!”

It is that combination of summer perfection and the sting of something autumn that twists the knife. I’ll take the unrelenting heat that drives others nuts. Go away, prematurely-turning finches. Be patriots to summer, trees, and refuse to don any of fall’s colors. Just let me enjoy this last blast of summer.

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