Even pandemic can’t spoil July

July. Finally. It’s seems like the last three weird months have taken about three weird years.

But now some version of “summer” has somehow arrived, like a three-toed sloth taking its sweet time. Because, really, summer doesn’t actually begin until July, right?

For me, this is a subjective fact on account of it being ingrained in 12 years (at least) of public school that always ended at the end of June, thereby creating a very real and welcome sense of magic when July rolled around.

Although it’s been one or two years since I more or less graduated from high school, and there’s been a lot of June water under the bridge in the intervening years, I still like it when July shows up.

For one thing, in a so-called normal year, July starts with a party and ends with a holiday — Canada Day on July 1 and then Heritage Day right after July 31. Those are the kind of bookends every month should have.

Also, this seventh month happens to include a bunch of family and friends’ birthdays. This, in itself, is not unusual for a month — every month seems to include a lot of birthdays, for some reason.

However, good old July contains the Suddenly Appear in Existence Day of both the Better Half and yours truly. In fact, we were born two days apart, although not it the same year. (Heck, hardly in the same decade, haha…)

But when you’re a kid, and school is over, and the Red Deer Fair is on, what can be better than five pieces of birthday cake and then riding the Tilt-A-Whirl until you throw up?

What can be better than losing all of July’s allowance on the five cent diggers? Ah, July.

It was the month of summer camp. Singing “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore” (badly) around the campfire, freezing in icy Sylvan Lake during compulsory swimming lessons every darn morning, raiding the girls’ cabins, spending 10 cents on red licorice and Fleer Double Bubble gum at the tuck shop.

Spending a week or so at my uncle’s farm out at Hillsdown/Valley Centre east of town, pretending I wasn’t a city geek.

Five boy cousins, two of them right around my age. Bringing in the cows from the south pasture, trying to ride old Bessie back to the barn and falling off into the speargrass every time.

Chasing the pigs with pirate swords made of plywood. Riding the stone boat. Plucking chickens. Getting stung by a yellowjacket down in the cream can pit where Dodger the golden retriever had her new pups.

July. Did you know it was named after the famous ancient Roman dude, Julius Caesar, who also had the C-section named after him, and he wasn’t even a doctor?

And more importantly, did you know that July is National Hot Dog Month in the U.S. of T. (Unfortunate States of Trump)?

Apparently, Canada doesn’t have a National Hot Dog Month, but if it did, I bet it would be in July.

Who knows that this highly modified pandemic July will be like in this much-cursed 2020? A lot of the summer magic has been downgraded from the awesome to the aw-shucks, but that can’t stop the good old month of Julius from appearing on our calendars.

It’s still July, after all, a such-as-it-is summer, and the sun will (occasionally) still shine, and it’s up to us to make our own magic, I guess.

Without the bells and whistles.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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