Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"August...die she must"

As summer comes to an end here in the northeastern U.S., I usually feel a sense of sadness come over me. I love summer and hate to see it go. Even this record-setting heat and humidity we’ve been experiencing for the past few weeks hasn’t put a damper on the season for me. We’ve been blessed with fresh tomatoes aplenty (three varieties), peppers, zucchinis (green and golden) and assorted herbs. And I love going shoeless in the yard :-)

The pool has been sparkling clear for my newly retired husband and Evie, our mutant springer spaniel (I don’t swim, though; don’t ask why). It’s astounding to realize that it will soon be Labor Day and schools have already reopened here. The season I wait for through the endless New England winters (which usually extend into spring) is over seemingly before it even started. 

One reason I’m feeling a bit blue is that for the umpteenth year in a row, I was unable to view the Perseid meteor showers. After a spectacular show of fireflies, the Perseid event is like the finale of a Fourth of July fireworks display. But for any number of reasons—cloudy skies for the most part, and the light pollution one experiences living close to cities—they came and went without much ado. Truly a pity since, according to astronomical forecasts, this year’s event was supposed to have been especially impressive, a “once in a decade outburst” that was seen in the southern hemisphere as well. (Read more about the Peseids here.)

I initially became excited over this phenomenon the summer I graduated
Evie, aka Dopus Dogimus, in the pool
from high school (ancient history by now), and I remember the awe and excitement of seeing them for the first time, as if I’d made some sort of unique discovery. It was a cool, mid-August night and my childhood pal, my beloved mutt Shadow, and I were sitting on one of the huge boulders at the foot of the driveway at my parents’ home in North Stamford (no light pollution there amid the trees far from city lights). We stretched out on the rock, soaking up the last warmth of the day, me on my back, Shadow in his sphinx-like doggy pose, and gazed up at the clear, starry sky. The sight was unexpected, with one “shooting star” after another, sometimes multiple streaking lights at once. Over the next few nights, Shadow and I made a point to return to our rock. On one night, I stopped counting after more than a hundred in less than an hour.

When my kids were small, I would rouse themand my husbandfrom their beds at around midnight when the meteor showers were at their height. We'd lie on chaise lounges or beach blankets in the back yard and stare up at the sky and wait. But here in Central Connecticut, the sky was never quite as bright or as clear as it was in those earlier years. After much mumbling and grumbling on the part of my progeny and hubby—they were bored or tired, or both—we’d call it quits, usually without seeing a single one.

And so it’s been for the last 25-plus years. On an occasional August night, I’ve seen one or two, at most a handful, but in my back yard I have yet to see the Perseid the way I remember during that magical night when I was eighteen. (Luckily, my life hasn’t been completely bereft, as they are particularly exquisite over the Great Paconic Bay on the East End of Long Island, where my husband grew up, or along the Connecticut River east of here.)

I’ve also found a place for the meteor showers of August in my writing. Along with fireflies, which I’ve used in two books, the Perseids make an appearance in Courting the Devil, book two of “The Serpent’s Tooth” historical series, in which my heroine, Anne, experiences their awe and wonder in much the same way I did, way back when, among the trees with my old dog Shadow.


Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh's Daughter, Courting the DevilThe Partisan's Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad, her latest release, an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her The Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from Amazon.

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