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Slack Tide: Meditations on July

“In like a crab, out like a lion.”

By Geoff Kirsch

So, it’s July. It’s been July for weeks — actually 11 glorious days, but who’s counting? — and it’s fixing to stay July for weeks.

Like many people, I suspect, I rate July among my favorite months. Even in Alaska, this time of year entails lots of basking in, or seeking shade from, the sun. Either way, this presents many opportunities to think…or enter random search terms into Wikipedia. That’s kind of like thinking.

Some gleanings from my recent “thoughts,” in no particular order:

Originally the fifth month in the 10-month Roman calendar, July was once named “Quintilis,” meaning “fifth.” It only moved to seventh after Julius Caesar seized emperorship and crammed two more months into the year: July, named after himself, and August, named after his nephew and eventual successor, Augustus. See? Any fool with a name can slap it on the side of a hotel tower. It takes a real authoritarian dictator to co-opt time, itself.

Of course, July marks the height of summer, especially in Alaska. However, in the Southern Hemisphere, July is the seasonal equivalent of our deepest winter. In other words, July is January’s evil twin… or is January July’s evil twin? Think about it.

Zodiacally speaking, July splits its symbolism between Cancer and Leo, hence the famous maxim: “In like a crab, out like a lion.”

Naturally, July observances abound.

July is National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month and National Hemp Month, which may explain all the hot dogs and ice cream.

Obviously, there’s Independence Day, but did you know July 4 was also International Free Hugs Day? Anybody you charged for a hug that day, you should probably issue a refund.

It was also Canada Day this past July 1, which, if you were anything like me, you celebrated by freebasing maple syrup and binge-watching “Schitt’s Creek.”

Oh, and July 6 was National Fried Chicken Day — don’t worry if you missed it; there’s still National Chili Dog Day coming up July 28. By the way, July 29 is System Administrator Appreciation Day. Nothing expresses appreciation for your System Administrator like a chili dog.

If you missed one of these, fear not! Plenty of chances to celebrate remain this July.

Shark Week returns today, and runs all the way through July 18, featuring, according to the official press release: “celebrities William Shatner, Tiffany Haddish, Brad Paisley and cast members of ‘Jackasss’ diving into the water for shark-related adventures.” I think Shark Week may have jumped the shark.

Then we’ve got Senior Citizen’s Day in Kiribati on July 11, Uruguayan Father’s Day on July 12, and July 14, Bastille Day, which also happens to be a killer track by Rush off their 1975 “Caress of Steel” album. If you’re anything like me, you just dusted off that old chestnut for Canada Day.

Lastly, apparently, the fourth Sunday of July is Parents’ Day in the United States? Have you heard about this? Do the kids know? I want breakfast in bed and a new weed-wacker.

Anyway, I’m not the only one who feels inspired by our current month. Apparently, there’s a song called by “July” by Noah Cyrus (whoever that is) and “July” by Ocean Color Scene (whoever that is, also), in addition to the seminal prog-rock overture “July Morning” by Uriah Heep. For those keeping score, that’s a Rush and Uriah Heep reference in the same piece. If only there were some connection to the Alan Parsons Project…

Now, you’ve also got “Fourth of July” by Sufjan Stevens, Mariah Carey and Fall Out Boy, as well as “4th of July” by the Beach Boys, U2, Amy Macdonald, Soundgarden and Shooter Jennings, not to mention “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” by Bruce Springsteen and “4th of July (Fireworks)” by Kelis. You have no idea how long I spent checking all those superscripts and parentheticals in that sentence.

Anyway, fellow July enthusiasts, enjoy it while you can. Soon, it will be August. And you know what Simon and Garfunkel say about that: “August, die she must. The autumn winds blow chilly and cold.”

We can all look forward to that.

• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears twice monthly in Neighbors.

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