It's too short, confused. Some people go back to school in the middle of it. For others, the month must trail out in the abysmal tail end of summer. Even the tourists in New Orleans desert the sunbaked pavements. The Garden District with its immense Greek Revival townhouses, its high fences, and its brilliant gardens, seems, as a neighborhood, to exist for nobody.
In times past, when those houses had the only claim on coolness--with their high ceilings they could deposit the heat above one's head--green blinds wre always closed on the galleries. Eighteen-inch-thick brick walls held the damp.
Few notice, but almost every house is built with a long exposure facing the river to catch a breeze that even August can't kill.
The Mayfairs have lived in such a house through three books and many more generations; Lestat retires to such a convent--brick--chilled, vast--at the end of Memnoch. I don't feel normal except when I am in a house more than one hundred years old.
At best, the month becomes one of preperations. The mass movement of half the population back to school affects everyone. The best thing in the old days, perhaps, was that the public pool was finally warm enough for me when I was scrawny, underweight, and so white that the kids said, "They dipped you in milk a magnesia."
But, in general, is August anyone's favorite month? Doesn't it aleays suggest transition, or even a sodden defeat in the war against summer?
My daughter, Michele, died on August 5, 1972. It was in Palo Alto, California, and I remember niether heat nor cold.
One glory in New Orleans is the crape myrtle trees, and mark that the spelling is correct. With hard waxy trunks, they flower sublimely in the simmering air, some of them giants, others no more than bushes, totally covered with blood-red blossoms, others completely white, some a deep purple. They line the streets, boulevards, explode in empty lots behind restaurants. There is one giant in my yard--Lashers tree in The Witching Hour. These drenching flowers roar in the silence, their feathery delicate pale leaves as soft as the big frothy blooms. It's their triumphant moment. That alone makes August worthwhile.