The first week of August
“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot.”
— Natalie Babbitt
When I was a child, and we would go to a fair or amusement park, we would sometimes be allowed to choose one ride to experience. It was never a contest for me; my favorite was the Ferris wheel. I loved the birds-eye view of the ground below, and the feeling of sailing over the top and downward, which was as close as I could come to flying without an airplane.
I’m no longer fond of these rides; I hadn’t the slightest desire to ride the London Eye, for example. But Disney’s “Soaring Over California” (or its later Florida version at Disney World, called “Soaring”) is such an all-time favorite that I always ride it several times on each visit. It’s a virtual hang gliding ride over the vast, varied and beautiful highlights of a remarkable state. With the help of technology, it delivers the ultimate birds-eye view of stunning sights I will never experience from that vantage point in real life. That feeling of soaring, briefly motionless and high over everything, is always a thrill.
I love Babbitt’s analogy of the first week of August as the top of the Ferris wheel, “motionless and hot,” that breathless pause before we glide down into the lovely autumn weather and the waning of another year. Now is the time to drink in the view of what lies behind us, and anticipate the accelerating pace that will soon begin, as the start of school, the fall holidays and the last of the sunshine fly past us almost too quickly to fully appreciate.
Whether you’re north of the equator and enjoying the peak of iced-tea or lemonade season, or south of the equator and sipping hot coffee or cider, I wish you a few moments of serenity as the turning of the wheel pauses briefly before whooshing down to the close of another year.
One year ago today: