The Speed of Summer: Dorothy Van Doren on August

Summer goes too swiftly.  And Dorothy Van Doren, an editor at The Nation and the wife of the critic Mark Van Doren, expresses my feelings exactly in her charming book, The Country Wife (1950).

Time, as it has a way of doing, passes.  The corn is silking, the tomatoes are large and green, the roses and delphiniums are over, and the annuals are beginning to bloom.  It is pretty hot in the daytime and we are thankful for our cool nights.  And on one of those nights, when it is not so cool and I am wakeful, the calendar comes home to me with rude force:  next Wednesday will be the first of August!

Has summer gone too fast for you, too?  I can’t believe it is August 24!  The Country Wife is a delightful chronicle of summers at the Van Dorens’ country house in Connecticut.  Dorothy Van Doren gardens, endures her husband’s carpentry projects, gets scratched-up picking blackberries, learns to eat puffballs, cans vegetables, and entertains guests (some welcome, some not).  If you like Gladys Tabor’s books, you might very well enjoy this quiet book.

12 thoughts on “The Speed of Summer: Dorothy Van Doren on August

  1. I always measure the speed of summer by events that occur annually. Once our Open Golf championship is over I begin to feel as if we are sliding towards autumn which arrives the day after the last night of the Proms.


    • Here we think it’s over on Labor Day, but with any luck it will last through September. (Perhaps longer these days.) The light is very different already, but this is your vacation month in the UK, no?


      • The majority of holidays are taken the last two weeks in July immediately after the schools have broken up. By this stage in August most people are looking to the start of a new term. Tomorrow is what is known as August Bank Holiday, a one day pause before that all begins. You might say after that we are all looking towards Autumn and then Winter whatever personal markers we might have.


        • Fascinating! I’ve vaguely known from novels that your schools are on a different schedule from ours.. Our summer vacations are longer, and vacations taken usually between June and August. But I can tell you that our whole town seems empty in the summer. There is no traffic: everybody is either out of time or indoors in the heat! At least that’s my theory.


  2. I started to write “I love books like this one and I’m not familiar with it”, then I checked my books read list and found that I read it back in 1995. Geez, so much for retaining information. Yes, summer has gone way too fast, partly because I spent most of it indoors due to avoid melting. And I do love Gladys Taber books. My mother loved her writings and it’s hard to beat her for comfort reading.


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