The Siren Songs of August

It’s finally over, and things are better. Not perfect, but better.

 

August, in the Midsouth, is universally reviled by farmers. The heat, though no worse than much of June or July, wears out the body and begins to play tricks on the mind. June and July might break heat records, but their days are longer, allowing a farmer to be in the field by 5:00 and out by the time the heat becomes unbearable. Not so with August. The loss of just one hour on each end of each day provides unbearable dynamic wherein one works more hours in the heat, and accomplishes less. This dynamic coupled with cumulative nature of heat exhaustion (and you can feel every hot day deep in your bones by this point in the year) makes for some unhappy sailing. It is at this point in the year where I, along with many other farmers begin to hear siren songs.

I hear them clearly, those songs meant to throw you off of your course “your LSAT scores may still be good, doesn’t law school sound like a good plan right about now?…The vet may need an assistant that works well with farm animals. You could even keep some of your own for fun!…You could always go back and do your PhD. You might want to apply to schools in the UK before Brexit changes immigration policies…Shouldn’t you really be using your Spanish more?…the grocery store is hiring…”

At the farmers market, each of us in turn plays Circe to another, “you cannot make decisions in August” ; “write it down and come back to it in November.” I suspect that we attempt to reassure ourselves sometimes more than our neighbors. This year, at least, I know the sirens for what they are. Only shipwreck that way. But, it remains difficult to stay tied to your mast. Lacking beeswax to fill my ears as had Odysseus’ men, I settled for The Game of Thrones books from Audible.com and “philosophy bites” podcasts played loudly in my headphones as I fooled with fences in 100-degree heat and 80% humidity. And so, I kept on sailing.

 

This morning, I walked outside and the world was changed, the weather confirming what the calendar promised: August is finished. Certainly, there will be further hardships and tests before the year is over—bows to string and pigs to move—but at least I find myself back on solid ground.

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