Monday, August 29, 2011


Another day of 90 degrees after a season of extreme and unrelenting summer heat. Everyone everywhere every day can say the same of the weather this crazy year. “If this is global warming, we’re in for a world of hurt,” Elaine, our heroine, was heard to say. Initially, she thought having a milder winter sounded perfect, but even these cold seasons were becoming unpredictable. As the winter weather turned a bit warmer with peculiar cold fronts hitting bizarre warm fronts, more snow storms happened then ever before. "Things never occur how you expect them to," Elaine mused to herself. This was a new weather pattern and no one had yet invented a divining rod for the future.

But now it's almost September. A middling month. A tickling of summer heat with a hint of fall’s crisp reprieve. A favorite month, seldom extreme, typically filled with promises of hopeful changes and healthier habits. For Elaine, the survivor of many varied academic years, she was on high alert in this month of new beginnings. September was spanking new and spotlessly clean, blank slate to start everyone on a level playing field. All worthy of an A grade until it is shown they aren't. A completely new year of turning from say, a junior to a senior, just by the passage of time and a few tests thrown in. “ Those were the best days," she thought. Elaine then recalled her even earlier school days when her mother bought each child a new notebook and an entirely perfect box of never used crayons. Flesh was her favorite color but she was always confused why it was pinkish when her best friend’s was toffee colored.

Some of her old school friends even shopped for all new clothes each year. Elaine's needs were simpler: the Catholic school only required a short sleeve pastel shirt in summer and a long sleeve white one with a dark sweater every winter. The same horrid plaid skirt both seasons. "Wonder what they wear now?" Elaine pondered, probably an updated combo like her son wore ten years ago, white collared shirts and beige long pants.

The start of her marriage a jillion years ago was in September. Her parent's wedding over sixty-three years ago, was just two days after her own in that month. Elaine thought, "Freudian, perhaps?" She couldn’t even remember what the weather had been. No rain is all she could recall. She had been more fretful over misplacing the hoop for her dress. It was recycled and the seventies, enough said.

This is the hopeful month of ‘start overs .‘ Although septa in Latin meant seven, this ninth month of the year is pregnant with possibilities. At least this is how she saw September. They even sold those 18-month calendars that began with September. "Who ever really buys those?" she muttered.

TV shows begin a new season lineup in the early fall. "If one more promotion about crossing over teases my interest, I will strangle the cat," Elaine told her neighbor. But the lineup of Oscar worthy movies looked promising. Movies about Hoover and a prequel to the Terminator and a remake of an old Nazi spy film with Helen Mirren were all showcased.

Often in September, a new cause caught Elaine’s interest. This year it was a local horse rescue league. Last year it was the tornado victims and a stint as a Red Cross disaster volunteer. Her interests were as timely as the newest catastrophe.

On a personal note, Elaine was even trying to improve her skin routine. Slathering serums and lotions and potions on her skin every morning and night. “Hope in a bottle”, she sang as she tried to remember the steps of application. She was a bit concerned the special super-duper SPF moisturizer was actually eating away at the jar lid.

Elaine always started some new exercise campaign every September. Yoga or Pilates or walking—something physical. She hated to sweat so that ate into her exertion level a bit. Her mother had told her young ladies never perspire. Zumba about killed her. "I miss my dead dog," she sighed. The dog walks turned her into a daily street walker, rain or shine. Elaine knew all about the newest neighbors from these walks—the next door woman's knee replacement, whose dog/child/parent was ill or what new well was dug or fence laid. Minutes pass by in conversation over a leash rather than a prolonged sit down with teacups and a house vacuumed quickly. Elaine liked people and was social but "I get bored easily, you can say it all in about 30 minutes," she would tell even her dearest of friends.

Elaine’s love of September lasted longer than just one month and she knew in her flawed heart that was a good thing, new crayons or not. “Not like February”, she grumbled.

Carole for The Poplar Grove Muse

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