The View from Here: as August arrives

There is always renewal; there is always change

The final hours of July passed wet and cool, brooding and overcast.  And welcomed.  I applauded the dimming of the light; I turned inward and pondered the prescience of autumn.  My heart has always belonged to autumn.

August is generally one of my least favourite months.  The birds have ceased their joyful singing.  The jubilance of summer is fading alongside the colours in hedgerows and the farmers’ fields.  The enthusiasm wanes for nurturing the garden into growth and the desire builds to cut back, to tidy up, to restore order.  August has become a month of impatience, of waiting for things to change.  In August, the year feels tired and old.

But there is always renewal; there is always change.  From one year to the next, one month to the next, one day to the next: there is always change.  And this year I find my attitude towards August is changing.

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Young Woman in the Fields Jules Breton wikiart.org

 

 

I begin to see August as a time for rest: as a time for gathering in.  As the farmer begins to gather in the harvest, I prepare to gather in my spirit.  I call it back from open vistas and wide-roaming places: from fields and forests, skies and seas, moorland and motorways.

Soon the focus will once again be upon hearth and home.  As the year transitions from summer to autumn so shall I, but this year with awareness and appreciation displacing impatience.  I cease to regard August as a tiresome month in which the countryside and I are often worn and weary and the weather rarely lives up to expectations.  I find myself considering August through a different lens.  Late summer becomes another point at which the year turns but it is a quiet turning, hitherto unremarked in my personal canon of thoughts and observations by which I have traditionally marked time’s passing.

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The opening of the calendar year is a time of hopes and beginnings and reckonings; Janus reminds us to look forward, to look back.  The vernal equinox is a bursting forth of new life; a fanfare as light overtakes darkness.  The summer solstice sees life and light at their fullest; nature is rioting.

A celebration of summer from Van Gogh

The autumnal equinox falls this year exactly on my birthday but the conjunction of the two has always elevated its personal significance as another opportunity to reflect, take stock, gather in what has been learned and experienced; send forth personal seeds and shoots of hope and quiet dreams; hunker down in readiness for winter.  And the winter solstice has long been a prelude to Christmas; a celebration of home, hearth and what we have come to call hygge; a time for family and thankfulness.

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I add to these long-established markers on my private calendar.  I add this morning’s musings on this first day of August.  Thoughts, facts, festivals, traditions, the personal and the universal crowd together and coalesce and I make sense of the clamour.

Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley, Summer Fields
Summer Fields Joan Eardley National Gallery of Scotland

August 1st is Lammas Day or Lammastide: the halfway point between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox.  In the traditional Celtic calendar it is the first day of autumn; the first of the harvest celebrations.  It marks the gathering in of the wheat.  August… Autumn…  Au… It is the symbol for gold from the Latin ‘aurum’ which means ‘shining dawn’.  A golden gathering, a shining beginning.  August reframed.

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This morning August has opened with a return of the sunshine.  It was a shining dawn.  The fine weather is predicted to last a few days more, before the rain returns in time for an extended family visit.  Perhaps it will become an early autumnal visit – hunkering down with board games and venturing out for rainy walks to the sea, rather than the visit we were hoping for, marked by summer days and picnics on the beach, evening BBQs and stargazing. No matter.  Everything changes – including expectations and weather forecasts.

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Rest in Harvest by William-Adolphe Bouguereau wikiart.org

 

65 thoughts on “The View from Here: as August arrives”

  1. Historically, August has been a month of introspection for me. Since having my daughter in August, it has become a month of celebration and preparation and schedule changes as school begins and activities ramp back up; there isn’t much time or energy left for introspection. But I have begun to see it as a portion of autumn — not of cool temperatures and russet leaves, not here, but of golden light and ripening. A pre-autumn. I like August more now. And I relate to this post, even as I covet your weather. 🙂

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    1. It’s lovely to hear from you, Nicole, and before I’d seen your comment I checked out your blog, realising I’d not seen you in my feed. Somewhere along the way I managed to get unsubscribed. Sorted now. As for August, like you it’s a month which has had various guises over the years. When my children were young and when I was teaching myself it was a month of freedom! I don’t think I’ve ever seen it as a month of introspection before now though, and I’m liking it. It feels right. Good luck with the school prep! 🙂

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    2. I have to say that autumn is probably my favourite season too. Each of the seasons has their pros, but there is something about autumn, whether it’s the beautiful colours, or the fact that it’s the build up to Christmas, I don’t know, but it is most definitely the season I actually look forward too!

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  2. What a lovely post Sandra. August is not my favourite month either, but I am hoping it will be a time for me to relax in the garden, plan for next year and help my son regain his health. I love the thought of it as a golden month.

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    1. When the sun shines (as it is now) it is a gorgeously golden month! I do hope you get your relaxing month, Jude, we all need some downtime especially after recent weeks with your son’s health. Hopefully he will be properly on the mend very soon x

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  3. Lammastide indeed! August 1st is Yorkshire Day! Though much of Yorkshire has little enough to celebrate at the moment with these dreadful floods, which luckily have not touched us. Provided I can avoid the crowds, I’ve always loved August: heat; lazy days in the sun, and spent as much as possible outdoors; a time when (unfortunately not this year though) news becomes less stressy, more silly season, and there’s time to catch up with friends and family. September’s lovely too, and early October. But I want to crawl under a stone between November and February! Thank goodness we’re all different. What a lovely post though. Nice choice of illustrations.

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    1. Yes, I had Yorkshire in mind as I was writing, Margaret; very conscious of the state of things up there. I’m glad you’re ok (as is my son) but ghastly for many. I’m on a steep learning curve re Yorkshire – I had no idea such a thing as Yorkshire Day existed!

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  4. August starts with a visit from Team H, babysitting while Mum and Dad got to a wedding. Later in the month up to Ironbridge to see Team AK. We have been before, but not seen their latest home, apparently very rural. It was end of August last time we visited and the weather turned so cold we had to go into Telford shopping to get warm clothes! End of August is Bournemouth Air Festival… I think you are right, I’ve always liked September when things are quieter, but still plenty of flowers in the garden.

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  5. What a lovely post and gorgeous illustrations – made me pause to reflect as I went through. Always a good thing to slow down a little and ponder. So thank you.

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    1. Thank you Margaret, I’m glad that you enjoyed it 🙂 (A happy coincidence that I discovered your message in the spam folder this morning. I almost never look in it. I shall do so more often from now on.)

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  6. Gorgeous post, Sandra. I used to think of August as dusty and endless, albeit full of vague possibility in a ‘Cider With Rosie’ kind of way. These days I associate it with vibrant fun and frolicks, containing as it does the peak of Edinburgh’s annual festivals. But one thing I think will never change is that growing sense of autumn on the air, and the arrival of a back to school feeling as the month progresses!

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    1. ‘Dusty and endless’ is a perfect description of August when I was still a child at school, Liz 🙂 I love that! And of course – August is a standout month in Edinburgh. I was conscious when writing this post that August will be experienced very differently in the southern hemisphere but I didn’t consider how much variation there could be within the British Isles. Hope you’re enjoying buzz of the festival 🙂

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  7. A beautifully written contemplation on August Sandra. I have also enjoyed the paintings you have chosen. It’s birthday month for three of us in my family and I now celebrate it in Winter but have many happy memories of Summer. Here we are starting to see signs of Spring – Jonquils and Daffodils starting to flower, some Camelia blooms bringing bright colour and also Hellebores. I have even seen one tree covered in bright pink blossom. Very welcome indeed.

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    1. Ann, I was thinking of those in the southern hemisphere as I was writing: August being a very different experience. And you have experienced both! I hope you enjoy all those birthday celebrations!

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  8. Food for thought there, indeed, Sandra. I love the ” Au” connection- of course!- why haven’t I seen that before? It is a golden month, the first of Autumn in my book, and your lovely selection of paintings shows that. I associate Van Gogh with gold. It’s also an indolent month- when I look at the garden and decide to let it be- blowsy and bee -drenched and alive with butterflies.
    Beautiful post. xxx

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    1. It was partly our earlier exchange about August and least favourite months that set me on this train of thought, Pat. As for ‘au’ – I didn’t see it until I’d rambled along for a while, despite having already started looking for artworks which depicted the gold of August. It was certainly an ‘a-ha’ moment! Blowsy and bee-drenched… such a perfect description. (I shall almost certainly steal it! But I promise to credit you!) xx

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  9. It’s July I can’t stand, so I am always delighted when August comes around. I loved your meditations here and enjoyed reading you reassessing your relationship to August. Produce is so abundant here in August–especially peaches. Lots of local corn too. Good eating in August in New England.

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    1. Corn and peaches… such lucious images for August, Elizabeth. Bernie is growing corn here for the first time and we are enjoying watching the progress. The burgeoning ears have their silky tassels but it will be a while yet before they are ready. Sadly I can’t see us ever succeeding with peaches!

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  10. I so enjoy your meditations on your surroundings, Sandra, because they are so different from mine. As for this one, I live near the beach in Southern California and at the moment we are far from slowing down and gathering in. We have so much summer left! The seasons are subtle here, but I am definitely a winter sort of gal with shorter light and longer nights being my comfort. Happy Lammas 🙂

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  11. I had an ‘A-ha’ moment when I saw your pairings of paintings with August. I think February in Victoria is most like your August, the days are shorter but the heat is intense and your description of summer being ‘tired and old’ fits.

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        1. Rose, no matter how hard I try I cannot think of daffodils in Australia! Quite ridiculous I know! 🤦‍♀️ But I do know how cheery they are after the drudge of winter. Enjoy! 🙂

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  12. I could read your writing all day! You express so well the way I feel about August and autumn but haven’t been able to articulate well. And the time you took choosing artwork, as well as words, was well-spent–they add a great deal to the feel of this piece!

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    1. Thank you, Kerry 🙂 I’m glad you liked the artwork in particular because it took me ages to find the right pieces. And all the while a little voice in my head was telling me how much time I was wasting… Sometimes it has to be heart ruling head 🙂

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  13. I love this post, Sandra! As it happens I have just been writing the next post for my blog, where I muse about – believe it or not – the transition from summer to autumn. It happens to be my favourite time of year. Part of it is due to the colours, which you capture magnificently. As you may remember I am a big admirer of Van Gogh, so I am happy to see some of his pictures here.

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    1. I’ll look forward to your post, Stargazer 🙂 To make that selection from Van Gogh, I looked through everyone of his paintings. Such a treat – and I love that combination in this post. I’d like to have it on my wall just as it appears here!

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      1. A treat indeed to look through all the paintings- what a difficult choice to make. I had hoped to visit the VG exhibition at the Tate this summer, but we’ve left it too late- August is definitely not the month for a London visit! For van Gogh admirers I can recommend Susan Fletcher’s novel ” Let me tell you about a man I know”- good author, great subject. xxx

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  14. My heart belongs to autumn too Sandra and I’m often impatient for August to end – it’s a strange month because kids are enjoying their summer holidays but I always feel summer should be over by now, and though it’s still warm, the nights are definitely drawing in. But Lammas is one of my favourite festivals – I do see it as the first autumn festival as it’s about harvest and transformation – I see it as the start of a ‘golden’ time of year. I love the way you describe the gathering in of your spirit.

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    1. Andrea, I was thinking of you as I was musing – knowing your interest in such things and your affinity with Lammas which is a festival that has passed me by until now. And I agree about the nights drawing already and indeed, later mornings. I was wide awake at 5.45 this morning (yes, I know…) and we were still in the grey dawn. Admittedly it was overcast but the quality of light was different. I found it comforting and familiar 🙂

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  15. Love the way you articulate what August means to you and I know what you mean – it’s hard not to get the impression of waiting for seasonal change, and one that often triggers slightly apprehensive feelings as darkness begins to return and summer bloom begins to wane. For this reason though, Autumn is possibly the most poetic season.

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  16. What a beautifully golden post from the words to the pictures. I love the Au of August – never thought of that before. I used to love August when it was a month of holiday, mostly spent in Cornwall with my parents who put up with all six of us for weeks on end! Now we are living back home, our ‘children’ visit with theirs, as we used to when they were growing.
    I love the Autumn as the nights draw in but I don’t want them doing that too soon and this year it is feeling Autumny already and the family haven’t arrived yet for their ‘Summer’ holidays! 🙂

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    1. Two of my children are arriving with their families later this week. Sadly the weather forecast doesn’t bode well. The golden August days we hoped for are unlikely to appear for us. Hope you have better luck!

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  17. I don’t love August as much as spring or early summer, but the first few wild blackberries are ripe, our potted blueberries are ripe, and a quieter set of wildflowers have taken over. It has its compensations.

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  18. August… Autumn… Au… Love these virtual links.

    August was a long respite after a year’s teaching for me: it took a week or ten days to wind down at the end of the summer term, and a similar amount to ratchet up to the new autumn term. Just before that ratcheting up was my birthday and that was therefore both an end and a beginning…

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    1. When I was teaching, the first day of the summer holidays was the absolute best feeling. That sense of August stretching ahead 🙂 Now, I can tap in to that feeling every day! 😁

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  19. I really all the paintings you have chosen for this post. The last one is quite poignant and says a lot about gathering in. I can relate to what you say about August in the northern hemisphere. Here of course it is very different – and not just because we have spring when you have autumn. We have had a frighteningly hot winter although heading for a few cooler days and nights. now, mercifully. For the first time ever I am rather dreading summer (I used to love summer the most) and any extremes it might bring. I am rather battling with the un-ignore-able enormities of climate change and trying to keep a bit of a grip. Imagining your autumn might help me feel more balanced. Thank you for this lovely post.

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    1. It is hard to ignore the extremes of weather that are arising with increasing frequency. I can understand your concern, Carol. I’m glad if this post helped just a little bit.

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