I grew up on the coast and there’s no denying that summer starts to get especially sweet in August. Summertime in Del Mar is a very lovely thing. Gone is the May gray, the June gloom, and the firecracker pomp and circumstance of July. August is a long, lazy exhale. Beach towels are a bit sandier, and frayed. Bathing suits have been dipped in saltwater and swimming pools a thousand times. My flip flops are little ghosts of their former selves, and I love them for that.
Recently I took a stroll through downtown Del Mar, enjoying the summer’s Spanish lavender, potted succulents and cheerful chalkboard signs. A big scoop of Pacific Ocean was visible between the streets. The L’Auberge garden was thick with white roses and ripening kumquats. At Sea Grove Park, families clustered at the sea-facing benches, watching surfers paddle through agave surf. Others shared sandwiches below Board & Brew’s giant flowering jacaranda.
Every year I look forward to the Perseids meteor shower. This year it peaks on Aug. 11, when lucky skygazers can sometimes see hundreds of meteors from the comet Swift-Tuttle streaking across the sky if the night is dark enough. In Italy on Aug. 10 each year, there is a special star-gazing festival called La Notte di San Lorenzo. Millions of Italians step outside to watch for falling stars with their sweethearts. One legend associates Perseids with gold-showered romantic interludes between Zeus and Danae, mother of Perseus. Now Italy might be more than 6,000 miles away from Del Mar, but I think this tradition is worth transplanting.
August is the month for revisiting summer wish lists. September will be here soon; next summer is a far away. But there’s still time to go for a walk around your neighborhood, smelling the star jasmine and lemon trees. There’s time for another stingray shuffle, another paddle out. There’s time to lie down in the grass with a kid you love, looking for crawling things.
I know what’s still on my August wish list. I want to pull on the same pair of beloved, faded cutoffs for three days straight. I want to catch another reggae show. I want to take my nephews down to the beach and play in the water. I want to spend an evening on the patio at Sbicca, as I did recently, watching a sunset and digging into fresh seafood. I want to check out a stack of Shakespeare and Toni Morrison from the library. I want to take an unabashed siesta with the fan on high.
And on Aug. 11, you’ll probably find me on a blanket with my favorite stargazer, toasting what we can see of the dazzling Perseids. I am hoping for an earthgrazer–one of those great, tearing meteors that drop across the sky in a bright white seam. This year, we’ll have a waning crescent moon coming up shortly before sunrise. If you want to join me, step outside on the 11th. Give it your best shot. Turn off the lights, step out onto the porch or into your backyard. Then look up.