Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cape August again

August in, en aout. (I'm sure there's a way to put an accent circumflex over the o of that aout to make it more august, but I can't figure out how.) In French it's pronounced "oo," which could be an 8 lying on its side, maybe because it's too darn hot, as Ella Fitzgerald used to sing.

I've been on vacation, mostly, in July. It was over the moment our airplane rose off the runway at SFO—an audacious thing to do, which made everything that had been right-sized around us become smaller and smaller. Unreal, a toy geography. It displaced us, we belonged to the barren zone of the sky, and we were brought back home like disobedient fugitives. We managed to run away again, to Cape Cod, and one day to Tanglewood to see Steely Dan. We drove there and drove back, so nothing got small. But California, we have to squeeze the memories out of a kind of extruder. Quentin, the llama in my sister's yard. A blue grosbeak singing from a telephone wire. A friend's house in Berkeley with avocado trees, a palm tree, and a redwood. Fireworks over the Marin County Fair. A Giants game. A Cubana band at the Dance Palace. All true but taking on the granular texture of a story now.

So I find myself aout-daciously rounding Cape August, as I always do, but usually with a stretch of vacation in the middle. Last year it was a trip to England. Other years, California or Maine. This year, the month lolls before me like a red hound dog on the sidewalk. I will get to know it in one place, through heat wave and thunderstorm, through perseids and loosestrife. I will follow the intensifying crickets and the occasional washboard katydid. I will accompany summer with empathy for its aging, for we are both approximately 63. We are both heading for September.

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