THE SEASONS: August Reflections originally written in 2011
August: A Month of Questions
Working our way through the year, trying to assess the seasons, month by month, August is a strange month. In the garden it can be a riot of colour and a time of bountiful harvest. This year particularly, trees have been laden with apples, pears, cherries, damsons and goodness knows what else. Soft fruit bushes have been covered with strawberries, raspberries, black-
But look again and you realise there are a scattering of leaves under some trees. Look again and some bushes and hedges are showing signs of turning yellow or brown. Are there signs that Autumn is coming? Earlier in the year, some suggested that garden life was several weeks early because of the unusual Spring. Will we find the same is true of Autumn? Usually we don’t think of August as an Autumn month; it is September, October and November that constitute what the Americans call The Fall, but that can be a stretched out season! So here we are in the midst of abundance while at the same time there are occasional signs that it may soon be passing.
Try to assess the season by the climate and you are really in trouble. Autumn is a confused month! One week it is sweltering hot and the large DIY outlets have fans and barbecues stacked high to entice those of us who are easily led astray into rash purchases. Rash? Well yes, for the following week the skies can be grey and the bringers of inches of rain. One minute we are basking in the sun and the next minute fleeing from the downpour which nastily decides to stay around for a while longer and turn the baked brown grass into the bed for a flood. I have known years when August skies have been cloudless blue throughout, and others when grey has predominated and rain been the word on most lips. This year has been a pleasant mixture.
But it is when you start listening to people that August takes on a feeling of its own. Where have you been? What was it like? And then as good Brits, did it rain? It is the month above all other months that collects stories of holiday escapades. There are visits to zoos and stories of the massively stolid rhinos, or the lumbering elephants. “In the one went to there was a young elephant no more than five feet high, obviously pretending to be a teenager, roaring along as fast as its stumpy legs could carry it, screaming with what seemed anger – or was it just showing off – flapping its ears wildly.” Then there were the regal tigers moving with such control and power. It is only a sign paying tribute to the memory of a keeper killed by the tiger that makes you realise that this is not a friendly creature on the other side of the wire.
It is also the month when families return from a day out at a theme park, pink or bronzed and considerably lighter in wallet, with tales of rides that made even dad scream with terror. What a weird bunch we are, to pay an arm and a leg to see how scared we can get. There are tales of camping, caravanning, cruising, wonderful beaches, sailing, canoeing or boating holidays, sky diving, ballooning, abseiling, paragliding, parascending – the variety of holidays is almost unlimited today it seems, as are the stories that are told on return. Whether it be day trips out or a four week trek around Europe, the tales are still there to be told.
We titled this month’s ponderings, “A Month of Questions” but perhaps it could equally have been titled, “A Month of Stories”. It is clearly a month of activities, activities that are different from the things we usually do. It is the month when we break loose from the usual humdrum or boring or stressful things that so often fill our lives, and create memories that will sustain us – we hope – as the days start to shorten and the mornings greet you with a cold nip in the air. But that is to jump ahead so let’s not do that. A month of abundance, changing weather, extremes of weather, unusual activities, questions, stories and memories; this is August.
The District Council recently handed out the following advice for Barbecuing
The top tips include:
· Charred doesn’t mean cooked make sure that burgers, sausages, chicken and all meats are properly cooked by cutting into the meat and checking that it is steaming hot all the way through, that none of it is pink and that any juices run clear.
· Disposable barbecues take longer always check that your meat is cooked right through.
· Avoid cross-
· Don’t wash raw chicken or other meat, it just splashes germs.
Why it’s important
You may have heard of salmonella and E.coli, which are well known causes of food poisoning, but you may not be aware that nearly 60% of chicken sold in the UK contains a bug called campylobacter.
Campylobacter poisoning can lead to sickness, diarrhoea, disability and even worse.
Those most at risk are children and older people.
If you want your barbecue to be remembered for the right reasons, follow the FSA’s advice on beating the barbecue bugs.
Find out more about the FSA’s top tips at: food.gov.uk/lovebbq