on august

brief notes on summer walks

August has always been hostile. The place that I’ve come to know as the last pocket of pure beauty possible in an American city morphs into a sick, sweltering maze of tangled sidewalks drowning in stagnant, hot air.

There’s a walk I like to do on these days, when leaving anytime but at dusk is impossible. I leave the AC whirl of my apartment and wander a few miles out along the river. Even as the sun drops, the air is still unbearably hot and the river breeze putrid from the summer algae blooms.

The walk is miserable. The bench that marks the end of the loop is hardly a destination worthy of the effort. A small grove of trees behind a rowing club provides almost total silence save for the splashing of oars, and enough distance from the river to not fill your lungs with its stench. It’s an imperfect, but tolerable spot to sit down with a book for a few hours.

Once the light has fully faded, the walk home begins. Which is, in whole, the only reason why leaving my icebox during this month at all is worth it. None of Boston’s streets can be described as anything close to a line. A drunken stumble, a zig-zag— sure, but not a line line. And it is impossible to not backtrace many of them as I wander home. It is staggeringly silent.

On these nights it’s rare to run into a single person, a particular blessing in a year like the one we’ve had. These blocks seem to swell even tighter with homes on every walk. There are no street lights, not that you need them anyway. The lives being lived within, diffused through curtains blown out of open windows is enough to light the entire way back.

The walk back doesn’t last long. But there is something close to perfection about it. An almost total disembodiment from the month that makes our bodies almost unavoidably real. Even as the air is still thick and hangs low as to make your skin feel much more like skin— all of these pieces assemble into the most fleeting of joys. The ability to escape the too hot, too loud, too busy life lived in a city for something that feels just a little closer to a home.

It is nearly October now, and the with the brutal chill setting in early this year and dark coming earlier and earlier these nights are all but gone. To mourn it is foolish, the months ahead are the most beautiful here, but I can’t help but be thankful for what I will soon have and lose again.

My infrequent writing here has never intended to serve as a life update. The 30 or so you that hung onto these over the past year have almost all been folks that I am lucky enough to have present in my life.

However, after the last newsletter fiasco, the first I ironically didn’t write— we’re now at a couple orders of magnitude more than that so a life update might be in order. Cascade, now nearly two years old, has grown to a point where its existence will soon see daylight. This is as thrilling as it is terrifying, and will make for a busy fall.

Outside of this, I’ve been finally getting back into a daily practice of bookbinding. I hope to return to write about this in a few months, but in the mean time, there’s much too much to do.