Here on the farm, August is the month of contrasts.  During the day, the dry hot brings forth an instant sweat, and flies.  The sheep hide.  The horses hide.  The chickens hide.  I would like to hide, but the farmhouse– a solid fir-framed centenarian–is woefully under-insulated and heats up like a Finnish sauna.   Besides, there are always more chores to do outside, and none of them are in the shade.  The hose is the only salvation.  Despite the pressing need to conserve water,  in between the beds of carrots and peas I point the spray straight upwards and it falls back to earth; instant, cold, magnificent rain, enough of a shock to cause that sudden, delightful inhalation, upturned face, gasp of a smile.  Weeding is bearable, then, and shoveling and mucking.  Until I dry off and the sweat breaks out once again.

But as the evening comes, everything begins to change.  The animals come back to life as the air cools.  Suddenly there are bucking, head-butting goats charging up and down their paddock.  Jimmy, a dusty-looking chestnut statue only a few hours earlier, regains his snorting horse spirit once again as he gallops in from the fields.   His delight at the break in the heat is obvious, and contagious.  It feels like the whole farm does a little jig in celebration.  And how could it not, when a cool wash comes quite suddenly up the valley, like the lifting of an uncomfortable blanket?  When the gardens are bursting at the seams with peas and beans and squash; when in the softening light, corn tassels rustle with golden threads, and tomatoes hang like rubies on their vines?   And at what other time does the livestock look so well and fat, do the new hens begin their year’s laying, does the anticipation of harvest seem a promise of unimaginable bounty?

For this farmer, it is only on an August evening that the euphoria of the farming lifestyle becomes so completely clear.