I live on the edge of a large bird and wildlife sanctuary, with my overgrown back yard merging seamlessly into what my family always call "the woods." I don't need the back-to-school TV advertisements or the internet to tell me that summer is winding down and fall is just around the corner. There are dozens of other little signs all around to let me know one season is sliding into the next.
The first flowering plants - the bleeding hearts and astilbes - are beginning to turn brown and die back for the year. The midsummer glory-flowers - the black-eyed Susans and marigolds - are making a last screaming bid for attention, while the cone flowers are fading and toppled, but filled with greedy yellow goldfinches. The first green acorns are beginning to drop: thump, thump (on the driveway), ping (on the car.)
Americans in the mid-19th c would have known that August was the time for harvest, not sales on school supplies and computers. The majority of Americans were still bound to the seasonal cycles of nature, and even if they had left the country to live in a city or work in a factory, most could remember the farm worked by parents or grandparents.
The Farmers' Almanac was first published in 1818, and has remained in continuous publication ever since. This short poem in honor of August (embodied in the illustration above) from the 1842 edition has both an undeniable charm and and a respect for the land that's still worth considering today.
AUGUST hath 31 days.
Blossoms to fruit are ripening fast,
And fields, so lately green,
Assume a rich and yellow cast,
And golden ears are seen.
Thus Heaven bestows, with liberal hand,
All that our needful wants demand.
Read more from the Farmers' Almanac of the 1840s here via Google books.