“My life, I realize suddenly is July. Childhood is June, and old age is August, but here it is, July, and my life this year, is July inside of July.”~ Rick Bass, writer and lecturer, winner of O. Henry Award
The beginning of the second half of the year, July heralds a new beginning—one in this part of southwestern Ontario that is usually hot and humid—but like tropical plants we can flourish. I need a new attitude about July and Rick Bass has provided the seeds for that new attitude. If you think of July as your life with June as childhood and August as old age, then despairing at its uncomfortable heat is not an option.
Wilting under the hot sun’s rays and writhing in the humidity is not a good way to spend your life. So, if July is our life, then we best embrace it while we can. We should pretend we are Aztecs and praise the sun for all its glory and life-giving sustainability.
One of my favourite songs of all time is Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze”. It captures summer in just a few words and July is encapsulated in one perfect line. Here are a few stanzas of this summer song—feel free to sing along:
See the curtains hangin’ in the window
In the evenin’ on a Friday night
Little light is shinin’ through the window
Lets me know everything’s alright
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind…
See the paper layin’ on the sidewalk
A little music from the house next door
So I walked on up to the doorstep
Through the screen and across the floor
Sweet days of summer, the jasmines in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune,…
Written by Regine Schmidt, Summer Breeze has so many of the trappings of summer wrapped up neatly in its verses. You can almost hear the screen door banging shut and smell the sweetness of the jasmine.
The perfect July brings back memories of childhood, when all that was expected of that first month out of school was bike rides and picnics and reading under the leafy poplar trees in my backyard. There was always a family reunion planned that we looked forward to at Lakeside Park in my hometown of Kingsville, outings to Point Pelee National Park, and an occasional trip to a town about 15 miles away for Kentucky Fried Chicken. My world was smaller then, but it did not feel small. Every day I would ride my bike around the neighbourhood or to the store down the road for an orange (it was always orange) Popsicle.
We had a brick backyard barbeque that was the centre of many a family gathering with homemade burgers, hotdogs cooked on sticks, roasted marshmallows (I liked mine burned), and juicy watermelons, which were not seedless then, so we could have seed spitting contests and no one would care because we were outside. Pickup baseball games in our big backyard were common, sheets blowing in the wind on our clothesline were a feature of Monday morning summer days, and watching my dad and his friends play horseshoes in the horseshoe pit are just a few of my fond July memories.
I also remember the days when I was a kid and could not wait for the temperature to hit the 90’s and loved the few days when it would hit around 100 degrees. The hotter the better then—and bragging rights went to those who could withstand the heat without finding shelter under a tree or near a fan. I would like to return to the days when I enjoyed July and it was not a trial to be endured, but a month to be savoured.