The Magic of August


by John C. Westervelt


        In August of 1999 I wrote:

        The mid-summer rain begins after supper at seven, the sun is still shining brightly. I move to the front porch with bread pudding and a cup of water to watch and listen.

        The thunder rumbles softly in the east and in the west. The sky turns gray, but never dark. The branches of the willow tree across the way swirl, rather than lean, with the wind. I slip into a light jacket because the air has been turned upside down.

        The grass, trees, plants, and I rejoice, knowing that an Oklahoma summer can be dry. I listen to a staccato tune played by the gutter downspout as the amount of water falling inside waxes and wanes.

        The wet driveway across the street reflects the front of the house. The whole outdoors looks and smells clean. Off to the east, a streak of lightning rushes from a cloud to the earth, or could it be the other way around? I slowly count to twelve before the noise reaches my ears. Some of the lightning flashes nearly horizontally from cloud to cloud with a softer rumble.

        It’s now nearly eight. The sky is a lighter gray. The robin must think that the shower is passing, for she has come out of hiding to visit my front lawn. In a moment the robin leaves, as the handle on the faucet above is turned counterclockwise once more. Water in the gutter downspout flows continuously again. If the Author of the rain desires more rejoicing, He’s got it.

        He must keep His hand on the faucet handle because the downspout is making music once more as the rain from the roof is dribbling rather than flowing. Where the water stands on the sidewalk, circles, from a single drop of rain, begin in miniature and grow to intersect a circle originating from the other way. Gravity is the choreographer who continuously changes the patterns that wrinkle, then smooth, the reflected sky and tree. My jacket is unzipped as the cool air departs. Everything is still. The reflector is now a mirror. The Rainmaker has shut the faucet.


        In August of 1998 I wrote:

        After seemingly endless days that have stayed hot well into the night, a cool one has finally come along. After finishing my supper, I decide to go outside to pull weeds from the iris bed.

        As dusk begins to fill the sky, I stop my work and sit sideways on the bench beside the redwood picnic table on the patio. I push my back up against the brick wall seeking its warmth. The cool air feels good; still I cross my arms and clasp them with my hands to warm myself.

        My relaxed mind stirs memories of summers past. Eleven years ago this month I became a widower. My memories this evening are about earlier times.

        On almost every summer night, after the children were grown, Nelda and I would move to the patio lounge chairs after supper with coffee, dessert, and the newspaper. Soon after this became a habit, I built a small redwood bench to hold my coffee and dessert, while Nelda used the bench on which I am sitting tonight.

        Nelda and I would exchange sections of the newspaper until the light of dusk dimmed. I don’t remember much conversation, just a quiet sharing of spirits. Throughout the year there were activities, such as Little Theatre, that were billed as entertainment. I was never better entertained than I was on those summer evenings with the paper, coffee, dessert, and a companion.


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