Yes, I worry about August in the city. Poor August, imprisoned in concrete. But then, I also worry about the city in August. Poor city, overheated and abandoned by much of its population. Because, you know, August, the month that Europeans take off, the month that shrinks take off, is, according to local prejudice, the worst month – the hottest and muggiest and dreariest.

But the time has come to finally expose that prejudice for what it is: wrong. The worst month is July. August, on the other hand, is a relatively civilized month, a warm but easy-going month. I heart August. I really, really do. Still …

I thought that today I might pretend that I’m not in the city, that I don’t have to defend New York or August, that they are quiet and napping in the back seat and I’m off for a summer vacation like all those psychiatrists.
There are so many choices. I could go fishing or canoeing or kayaking or bird-watching in Central Park. Or I could see a movie in the park, or an opera or a symphony. I could attend a handball tournament or a volleyball tournament. There are softball games and bocce ball, and there’s cricket, too. There are so very, very many choices.

Now I’m exhausted thinking about them.

I choose to walk the dog in Riverside Park.

I live a block away from Riverside Park, so I walk the dog there every day beneath the dark shadows of the linden trees. You know those two weeks, the last two weeks of June, when you walk down Fifth Avenue or anywhere near any park, and you stop and breathe and think, what just happened? Where am I? What wonderful thing have I done to deserve this complete and thorough happiness? What is that ambrosial smell? How can there be a smell that is the smell of spring itself? That smell is the smell of the linden trees in bloom. I just learned that from my upstairs neighbor. The smell is gone by August, sadly, but the trees are there and the shade is so soft, so dark and intense.

Sometimes the dog, sensing we are about to go home, simply lies down beneath the linden trees and rests his head in the green grass. Usually I tug on his leash and drag him home, literally, his little feet dragging stubbornly behind him, but sometimes I join him on the grass. Unter den Linden. Today, I saw a mockingbird chase a squirrel off the fence. A blue jay screeched from the depths of a bush bearing some kind of berries, still pale and hard. There are so many trees and bushes with tight, green fruit. Cherries? Apples, crab apples … There are also more kinds of hydrangeas billowing through Riverside Park than I ever imagined existed. Weird, giant hibiscus, their flowers like colossal waving handkerchiefs, grow extravagantly in the swampy depression near 82nd Street. That’s another favorite place for the dog. The grasses are high and fragrant, the mud is cool, the same blue jay taps at a huge seed with its beak, tiny yellow butterflies hover everywhere. Well, maybe it’s a favorite place for me.

Then we walk by the river, past the rhythmic creaking of the docks of the boat basin. Maybe we’ll go back for dinner to the Boat Basin Cafe, where dogs are welcome, and watch the sun set. Sometimes there are fireflies on the walk home. Oh, it’s all so idyllic.

And then, suddenly, from across the river, comes the rain – the pounding, muscular rain. Unter den Linden is over. It’s Unter den scaffolding. I can go to the bank, Fed Ex, the dry cleaner, the pharmacy and the best Cuban-Chinese restaurant in New York and barely feel a drop. I can almost get to Zabars. Why was I pretending I wasn’t in New York, again? I think I’ll pretend I’m in New York and don’t mind one bit. Just me and August in New York City, together, hanging out.