This Cape August thing started not so long ago—I was in my early 30s, but I can step into the mind of the guy sitting on the balcony as easy as slipping into a dream. That was me on an August day in Vancouver, my home at the time. I was looking east, to where the big triumphal clouds were boiling up over the North Shore mountains like clipper ships. And I must have been writing in a notepad, feeling the access of something huge and hopeful on the horizon as we sailed toward the new chapter, new pencils, new chance of September. And ever since, when August comes around, with its Perseids, its crickets, its dark and drooping leaves, its chugging katydids, and its early intimations of autumn just beyond the goldenrod, tansy, wall lettuce, and Queen Anne's Lace, then we are rounding Cape August again.
I call these much-rubbed souvenirs of time and time again "sea glass," the phrases, the old formulations. August has its fair share. There's "Rounding Cape August." There's "the threnody of crickets," that pulsing, mindless, cheerful dirge. And the other day, a familiar phenomenon of late-summer light and leaf shadow washing a porch wall lightly, blurring and doubling as if trying to fit on itself. Kinefolia, we called it. It's a cheap movie, like the one you see on the white rear doors of panel trucks as they pass under the angling shadows of trees and telephone wires. Except this one is more intimate, more kitchen-table. And impossible to capture in a still photograph, you need a video to capture those sudden flares and flashes of wind.
Anyway, I feel I should apologize to August, whose first week I spent like a shut-in, writing multiple choice questions and forgetting to do my exercises. Doing my exercuses instead. But August would not know what to do with my apology other than release it like a getaway balloon into the shrugging sky. And call it Walter, just to call it something.
In a week, I will either be going on a longer hiatus while we take a trip to London for two weeks, or what I'm hoping, writing little dispatches every day between the 14th and 28th. With a little luck, I may find the makings of future sea glass.