FORT WAYNE – Good morning, and welcome to August, the crummiest month of the entire year.
Today is the first of its 31 days – an atrocity in itself since not only does it rank No. 12 on the Favorite Month-o-Meter, it is also one of the year’s longest.
Remember how eager we all were as we emerged from the unusually-chilly spring into a fresh summer? It wasn’t that long ago when we put our faces toward the warmth of the sun, inhaled the seasonal perfumes of grilling brats and freshly mowed lawns, and treated our ears to the soundtracks of past summers.
How we couldn’t wait for a new season.
Unquestionably, July had some smokin’ hot days, but at least there was the Fourth to enjoy, with its firecrackers and sparklers and four-day work week. Less than two weeks later, we could anticipate the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival, which the community appears to be embracing with more vigor.
So while July statistically remains the warmest month of the year, it still has redeeming qualities, both here and in the rest of the country.
Now comes hideous August, the veritable armpit of the calendar. And we’ve got three days and four full weeks of it.
It’s a month that will spew its omnipresent heat, often accompanied by an extended drought. Insects are noisier and more numerous in August, particularly the squalling cicadas. It is a last call for mosquitoes.
By the time Labor Day finally arrives Sept. 2, we’ll all look as if we had been with Napoleon on the retreat from Russia.
I coached (football) for way over 30 years in the heat of the August sun all day long, says Snider High School athletic director Russ Isaacs, who coached for 33 years. It’s no fun whatsoever. The measuring stick is even dogs hate the month of August.
There were times when it was so hot we literally had to start practice at 6 o’clock in the morning and we wouldn’t come back until 6 o’clock at night because if you were outside in the heat of the day, it was a monumental effort to walk 50 yards, much less kids trying to play football. The heat was oppressive and it made you say very quickly, Why am I doing this? This is really stupid.’
Quick fact: This is the only month without a holiday or a celebratory day of some sort.
January has New Year’s Day, of course; February has Valentine’s Day; March has St. Patrick’s Day; April usually has Easter; May, Mother’s Day; June, Father’s Day; July, Independence Day; September, Labor Day; October, Halloween; November, Thanksgiving; and December brings us Christmas and Hannukah.
As you see, each month has something to observe; a day or season to look forward to.
Then there is August.
August is National Back to School Month.
It is Neurosurgery Outreach Month.
It is Cataract Awareness Month.
And certainly the reason for us all to celebrate and send greeting cards – National Goat Cheese Month.
Settle down, kids! There’s plenty of goat cheese to go around.
Historically, there have been exceptions to the dark days of August. World War II officially ended Aug. 14, 1945. Martin Luther King Jr. made his memorable I Have a Dream speech Aug. 28, 1963. And other than Hawaii becoming a state in 1959 and Woodstock becoming a state of mind 10 years later, not much good has occurred in the month.
But as far back as Mount Vesuvius’ eruption near Pompeii, killing 20,000 on the 24th, 49 A.D., we’ve had good reason to eliminate August altogether from the calendar.
The first federal income tax was levied in 1981.
Babe Ruth died in August. So did Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and Princess Diana.
United States troops landed on Guadalcanal in 1942, and U.S. entered the Vietnam War in 1964.
Nixon resigned. Wild Bill Hickok was shot in a poker game, holding aces and eights. British troops burned the White House.
The Beatles’ last live concert was in August 1966.
Yep, it’s August, when vacations are wrapping up and we’re besieged by a barrage of back-to-school ads.
In sports, baseball is in its going-through-the-motions stage, still two months from the World Series. The Cubs are looking ahead to next year. The NFL is playing third-string players but charging top dollar for preseason games. And by the time the regular season kicks off in September, your first-round fantasy league draft pick will be out for the year with an injury.
Quick fact: Even birds have enough sense to leave August behind. That’s when they begin their southern migration.