Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Sweet Part of Summer

If I had to choose a favorite season, I'd pick fall. Something just comes alive in me when it's time to get out my red chamois shirt, the one with lots of holes worn in the sleeves. It's been my autumn companion for decades. Maybe I like this season because I'm a Libra; who can say.

But a close runner up, in the All-Time Perfect Season category, would be early summer. I'm not talking August here. Weeks of three digit heat, frazzled flower beds, air choked with forest fire smoke, sizzling cars, iced offices: not my idea of summer.

The summer I'm liking is the one that's outside the door right now. Mellow. Moist. Rich. Sweet as can be. That's the summer I like.

Just mowed the lawn and then set out a sprinkler. Oh my goodness...look at the shocking purple of those six foot larkspur! I know they're toxic to cattle, but can you imagine a more regal and, at the same time, scruffy flower! Some kind of gypsy flora, I'm thinking. While mowing, I apologized to the bees for chopping off the giddy white spheres of flower on the clover. The lawn looked like it had been hammered with hail before I mowed. Saddened that I took the bees' treasure, I referred them to the hundreds of Barbie-pink pentstemon, the gawky stalks of yarrow, and the inviting pastel cups of mallow. I also reminded them that the clover would be back in a few days.

In early summer, plants are in a good mood. They're not stressed, quite yet, with Sol's stare. Among the happy blooms are columbine. I like the whimsy of yellow columbine clamboring around in my aspen grove. Posted in an idyllic setting of dappled shade, rattly leaves, and moisture, these odd-shaped blooms are thriving. Columbine, whose scientific name refers to their eagle-like shape, are fun flowers. They're hardy and long-lived and prolific. Columbine greet me in late spring, keep blooming for months, and generously spawn new generations.

I'm liking the early summer explosion of the giantic shade tree in my back yard. A "trash" tree, this elm is demeaned by power company staff and horticulturalists alike. But mine is SO huge and shades the house so well, that I rarely need to turn on the air conditioning. It is my summertime friend. Right now, this tree is draping long strands of lovely green leaves above the yard like a Southern debutante. Oh my! Just look at this sweet shade, will you, Ellie Mae?

And the summer morning sounds! I tune out the neighbors' mowers et al and zero in on the gossipy sparrow chirp, the lilting giggle of goldfinch, and the sharp curse of crow. Earlier killdeer and robin had offered their hymns to morning and, on our run, quail broadcast and red-winged blackbird trilled.

The aromas of early summer are hard to match. When I unlock my front door, the fruity sweet of petunia and cranebill geranium greet me. When I perch next to the hummingbird haven, it's the tangy drift of lavendar, phlox, and delphinium. And when I wander to the raised beds, it's the lucious explosion of just-ripe strawberry and the rich pinch of dill and cilantro before they bolt. Mint and oregano rim many flower beds and they're spraying their scent everywhere, all the time!

Yes, I'm thinking early summer is almost my favorite season. I'm savoring every single minute of this lucious time.

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