August is the Time for a "Cease Fire"

Experience summer now—we have time to bicker later

The easy weeks of August are The Great Lull, when the media machine shuts down, corporate America turns off the fluorescents above the cubicles and the UW campus is sleepy with indolent summer scholars.

Face it. August is our lazy time of the year. It is the brief window in our industrious calendar when we Badgers get to act like the French.
Despite acrimony in Wisconsin’s halls of power, and a shared fear for both our public and private economic well-being, what better thing to do than sprinkle our last weeks of summer with some spiritual sunshine?

Let us dwell on the good news to be had.

First, as bad as it has been in Wisconsin, remember that we do not live in Illinois, New Jersey or California. Their civic torture is just beginning.

Hell, we don’t know if Minnesota is even a state anymore.

So let’s enjoy the fact that we are experiencing a sports nirvana unlike any we have ever seen, with the Packers, Brewers and football and basketball Badgers all potential national powers. Even the Bucks now have one of the best Division 3 college teams in the land.
Rejoice in the fact that the only thing required for any meal in the next three weeks is butter, salt and a roadside stop. Revel in lawn mowing and a good sweat, followed by a cold beer on the porch while you notice the three-feet-high mark you made on the siding with your shovel during The Blizzard of 2011.

Admire the rays your face has absorbed and remember it when you are pale, pasty and sallow in January. Inhale the humid August air, let it soak your skin, the very same dermis that will break and itch with dryness twelve weeks from now.

Display your shrunken waistline, shorn of its winter pounds … the same pounds that even now are gathering themselves in the cupboard to assault you with empty calories during the Super Bowl.

Kiss your bicycle. Then ride it, with the prevailing westerly winds in your hair and the occasional high-protein insect inhalation to add spice to your pedaling.

Turn off the TV. Sit on your lawn at dusk. Fireflies. Best year ever.

Go listen to the lapping waves of our lakes, for even troubled waters sound as comforting as clean ones.

Walk up State Street on one of the few summer evenings remaining and pretend you are twenty, even though you will be home before midnight. Go sit on the Terrace and remember the words of my Chicago friend on his first visit there. “I feel like I am in Paris.”

Invite some friends over to sit on the back porch, share a toddy and sing, for it is not a party unless you warble or dance. And make sure one of the guests plays a real musical instrument. Nothing better than the sound of a genuine, organic guitar strum drifting out into a late summer’s night. And don’t worry about your singing. You sound great.

If you are so inclined, this would be the time to skinny dip, if you have not already fulfilled this summer’s obligation.

But most of all, can we, for the few remaining weeks of summer, call a truce amongst ourselves? Let’s declare a moratorium on politics. Let’s pretend that we are friends as we used to be. For this year has been awful. Far too painful. We are working some things out, but it has been beyond ugly and messy.

And we have been so unlike the people we are. Or, at least, think we are.

So for a few weeks, let’s lay down our swords and shields. Hell, if the German and American soldiers could sing “Silent Night” to each other across the trenches on Christmas Eve, we can surely share a brat while cheering Ryan Braun.

And for the waning days of August, while our feet are up, the lemonade cold and Billie Holiday sings, let’s avoid the words “Republican,” “Democrat,” “private sector,” “public sector,” “collective bargaining” and “Koch brothers.”

Sadly, we have spent the first seven months of this year making ourselves tired of each other.

Let us pretend, for just a few days, that all state workers are happy, all corporate execs are honest, all governors are wise and all citizens, friends. No hell below us. Above us only sky.

As summer ends, let’s take it easy on ourselves.

Sure it’s naïve. But our winter is not far off.

And we have much time to bicker.

Madison-based television producer John Roach writes this column monthly. Reach him at

Read more Out There columns here

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