“True love blooms for the world to see, high up in the July tree.” Nina Simone

“Let freedom ring, let white doves sing, let the whole world know today’s one of reckoning…” Independence Day,” Martina McBride

Dear Seventh Month Crunch

Jaunty July, you seem to be summer’s epiphany, the curious middle child of a season that simmers and seduces many.  I’m on the fence as to whether you’re the pinnacle of pomp or a potpourri of glee and grief. July, you saw five more accused Salem witches hung way back when, saw Earhart plunge, and bang went public enemy #1—betrayed by a lady in red. I’ll admit, your sweetness drips from many watermelon ’ed lips this month. July, you’re also a flashy dresser, wearing garments hard to measure, toying with human senses, sporting kaleidoscope lenses. ‘Though we do what we can, July brings us flies and sand.’ Emerson   Life is a stroll on the beach, as near the oceans edge as I can reach. Thoreau

National Joke Day is July 1st. Shall we jest?  I have sychic powers. For example, right now you’re thinking she forget the P.  Funny advice: never break someone’s heart; they only have one. Break someone’s bones, there are 206 of them. Kid stuff: Boy told his teacher, my dad’s name is Laughing; my mom’s name is Smiling. The teacher said ‘you must be kidding?’ The boy replied: ‘no that’s my brother; I’m joking. Groaners: Vacations are 1/10th playing—9/10ths paying! Humpty Dumpty had a great fall to make up for his miserable time at summer camp. Smut: there’s a 4 letter word, ends in K and means the same thing as intercourse… Did you guess word was TALK? Try again: I start with a P, and am a major dollar maker for film industry……I’m popcorn!

Draw a red nose in the air and pin it virtually on Rudolph if you like Christmas/Yule in July. Hallmark channel does, running holiday movies the entire month. Do you make iced wassail, a rummy eggnog, or its tropical equivalent on 7/10, National Pina Colada day? Is royal frosting mandatory or optional on 7/9, National Sugar Cookie day? Have you ever barbequed a turkey? According to the Dixie Chicks, there are cold Days in July, where ‘people say goodbye, and time moves slow…’ July’s the perfect time to tell a chilling tale with ghosts and gremlins. Have you done it yet, gone cuckoo for Christmas in July? Do We Need a Little Christmas, right this very minute, or is the spirit of Yule more about holding a holiday heart year round (per Scrooge)?  

Can we trace this ½ a year away holiday to kids at Keystone Camp, Bernard, North Carolina, July 1933? There were plenty of pines to decorate with birdseed ornaments. Sparklers and fireflies were their twinkly lights. They used cotton as fake snow and in lieu of snowball fights, had water balloon battles. Was there an ugly bathing suit competition? Did they make eggnog milkshakes and toast marshmallows for s’mores over a yule log? It’s up for debate since merchandizers promoted the idea in the late 1800s, a composer wrote an opera about the occasion, and vaudeville comedians hurled one liners. Hollywood even made a 1940 Christmas in July comedy. Is it just coincidence Disneyland opened in July (1955)? 

In the spirit of a holiday celebrated twice, I offer Part I of a ghost story: The Tangled Tale of a Yule of Yore (extract from my book Remains to be Seen. Part II of this ghostly tale will post here in early December. Meanwhile, you can read Chapter 1: Get Yourself Gone in this blog (January 2021). This is a saga about a 3500 year old feud, begun in ancient Greece and cemented in Ireland. It compromises the lives of people that knew TVs Eyes on Everyone producer Perdura (Dea) Brentain. Charred remains in her garage indicate she’s dead. Daughter Langley and Detective Eam Able suspect she isn’t. Ex’s and lovers are scrutinized; one’s on the run—not sure from whom. While dodging bullets, his estranged wife goes to the top of his list. When magic’s involved, nothing is as it seems. It remains to be told and seen through a seanchai’s eyes… Dea says 7th day most magical day of this 7th month.

The 50+ summers since I adulted have been vacation lite. It’s too damn crowded, more expensive, and noisy, no matter where one goes. What about swimming in public petri dishes pools, and the need to post signs ‘Welcome to our OOL-notice there’s no P in it?’ (If you do pee, the water fibs on you; turns bright blue or green.) Childhood vacay memories contain equal measures of pleasure—and pain in the form of serious sunburns, skinned knees, catastrophic camping trips, sadness over being separated from friends and critters, and too much Griswald’ness, not enough Dirty Dancing. Still, where there are itchy rashes and stings, there are remedies, summer breezes, boats that float, lakes that cool, and fireflies (tiny but shiny) sending secretly coded messages. ‘The bee stings, then the bee dies.’ 

July, you also seem to be the ultimate 31 day lay, one night stand—hot to trot, willing, thrilling, then gone, though vaguely recalled. Hurricanes are more thinkable than drinkable in July. Freedom still rings on 7/4 but what with inflation and…independence might need more liberating, as did the 103 folks in Entebbe Uganda, 7/3/76, rescued by Israeli Defense forces. Or should we clone it while we’ve still got it, as they did Dolly the Sheep in Scotland 7/5/78, and UK test tube baby, Louise Brown, on 7/25/78? They should give this land a Native American name like NAH-NU-NAH, ZIPACHA,ANAHUAC.. ‘It’s the 4th of July, or as I call it, exploding Christmas.’ Steven Colbert 

Summer blockbusters still provide temporary escape. 2022’s lineup are full of returns—from Cruises’ Top Gun Maverick and Hemsworth’s Thor: Love & Thunder to Jurassic World’s Dominion and more Obi Wan. Buzz Lightyear’s back but there are fewer super heroes. The creepiest horror film might be Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future, in which Lord of the Ring’s Viggo Mortensen ‘turns organ harvesting into performance art.’ Or will the scary award go to Ethan Hawk in Black Phone? He plays a black balloon carrying Pennywise acolyte who kidnaps kids. Road trip movies include Marcel, the Shell with Shoes and Don’t Make Me Go. Without leaving home, stream The Gray Man, a Gosling/Chris Evans CIA chase thriller on Netflix (7/15). Though not an Elvis fan, I was all shook up after watching Elvis movie trailer, starring Austin Butler. Bring bug spray, a fan, and Kleenex because trailer of Where the Crawdad Sing reveals a southern gothic swampy, seductive sizzler of a show (out 7/15)! 

July, you were named after war monger/empire builder Julius Caesar (& July birthday boy). It’s no wonder you’re full of battles and truces: 7/19/1553 Lady Jane Grey ends 9 day reign; 1870 Franco Prussian War begins; Gettysburg 7/1/1863; 7/15/1918 Battle of Marne; 7/27/53 Korean War armistice; 7/19/97 IRA Cease Fire… You’re a month that topples and destroys: releasing Fat Boy into the desert 7/16/45; gunning down Nicholas II and his family 7/17/1918; blowing up the good folks on the London tube 7/21/2005. Unfortunately, there’s more: timber went the Bastille, 7/14/1789; splash went the car into Chappaquiddick 7/18/69; and down went hungry unemployed vets 7/28/32 camping on the mall, demanding bonuses promised, getting Army bullets instead. Only the dead get to experience the end of war. 

You disappear, July, like JFK Jr. into the waves (7/16/99) and Jimmy Hoffa’s concrete suit (7/30/75). Or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say you burn like 1751 Stockholm fires; or the 1000 Jewish people German’s gassed then burned July of 42’ in Minsk; or the albums Alabamans torched (7/31/66) because John Lennon told the truth. Three presidents die on 4 July: Adams, Jefferson, & Monroe (and Garfield shot on 7/2).

Your 7/13 full moon has many names: buck (antlers sprout), mead or hay (honey sunshine pours), guru (minds clear)…and pagans and agi’s still prepare for harvest and August Eve (Lughnasadh). Romans honor she-wolf Rhea Silvia and trees on 7/19. See what I mean about potpourri? July’s the month when laziness finds respectability (S. Keen). ‘Our thoughts are seeds; don’t plant poison ivy.’ 

As for me, turtle headed I retreat, in response to rising heat. July memories haunt me some, like the spirit of July 1776 haunted King George III, or as Hemingway, who died 7/2/61, plagues writers prone to hyperbole. While summer breezes were never as cool as they pretended to be, I still flip the hourglass of time to recall the beachy, effervescent taste of a salty kiss. He asked if he could; sea & sand said ‘shore she would.’ Perhaps, as July melts away, we should do a Neil Armstrong moon dance (7/20/69), just one small indepen-dance… Or at very least, considering the heat, ask Mr. Sandman to bring us a dream another drink (7/24, National Tequila Day; Agave at the office, agave at home; I left no tequila filled glass unturned.)

PS: Still to come this month: next chapters of Act of Ambition and Grave Goddess. Part 1 of Tangled Tale of Yule of Yore ghost story posted separately.