Welcome to August! As this is my 14th summer in Coastal Georgia I am more or less used to the sauna-like heat, afternoon thunderstorms and schools returning in early August. Just remember that in London, England and at the time of writing this column, the forecast for today is cloudy with an 80% chance of rain and showers throughout the day, high temperature of 67F and low of 55F. Also, in the land of my birth most K-12 schools only finished for the summer break two weeks ago and won’t return until mid-September. In spite of oppressive heat here in Bryan County, I still love summer and grab any free moments in my calendar to head to the pool. In my professional life, August means the Savannah VOICE Festival and starting to plan out 2024 marketing activities with our clients, which is always upbeat and exciting.
Did you know that August is known as “the dog days of summer”? This is because ancient Romans noticed in the northern hemisphere that the bright “dog star”, Sirius, would appear in the sky in the east just before sunrise near the sun at the end of July, at the beginning of the very hottest days of the year. The Romans referred to this period as “dies caniculares” or translated as “days of the dog star,” which was eventually shortened to just “dog days.”
The month of August is named for the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar, in 8 BC. This replaced the original name of Sextilus, Latin for “sixth month,” indicating its position in the early Roman calendar.
The birthstone for August is Peridot, a semi-precious gemstone primarily made up of olivine, magnesium, and iron which represents good fortune in many cultures. The amount of iron present in peridot gives it a unique bright yellowish green color and luster. Peridot was formed eons ago within deep volcanic eruptions, and Hawaiians believed it symbolized the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess.
One of the birth flowers of August is gladiolus, a symbol of strength and love, which brightens up late summer gardens in bright yellow, pink and lavender, rose, burgundy, purple and even green. The bright red poppy is the other August birth flower and is associated with those lost during times of war. The red poppy of Flanders is recognised across the world as the symbol of World War I because red poppies were among the first plants to spring up in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. They became a symbol of both remembrance for the fallen and hope for the future. I will never forget visiting these fields and the extensive cemeteries of the allied troops to pay respect to those who gave their lives so we can live in freedom. In the land of my birth, as well as in France and Australia, every November the “poppy appeal” raises money for veterans. Literally millions of Brits donate by buying artificial poppies and wearing them with pride on coats and jackets in the run up to and on Veterans Day which falls on November 11.
Back to the month of August, which happens to be National Fishing Month! This is to encourage non-fishermen and women to have a go at this relaxing pastime, and what a great excuse to go out on the water. This week is also world breastfeeding week, and we can also look forward to USA Coast Guard Day tomorrow. This is followed by National Oyster Day on August 5 and National Mustard Day on August 6. Later this month some other highlights include International Cat Day on August 8, International Youth Day on August 12 and International Left Handers Awareness Day on August 13. I am a bit disappointed that I will miss Afternoon Tea Week in the UK later this month but at least in the USA I can console myself with National Banana Split Day on August 25 and National Toasted Marshmallow Day on August 30! And don’t forget to dress the part on National Bowtie Day on August 28. For a lot more information see www.britannica.com or www.cbsnews.com.
I say goodbye this week with a quote and a reminder from British-born naturalized American poet Denise Levertov – “Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August.”
God Bless America and make the most of your dog days!
– ENDS –