Summer’s off to a good start.
July is nearly a week old, and thanks to the sunlight, heat and rain, vegetative things are lush and green and growing like gangbusters.
I already have tomatoes on the vine the size of baseballs!
I should feel cheerfully reassured.
Yet I’ve always visualized the cycle of seasons as a sort of natural sine wave — a repetitive series of smooth curves that oscillate up and down endlessly along a horizontal line …winter, spring, summer, fall, winter spring summer fall … year after year.
Therefore I tend to view this second half of 2014 as the downhill side of our annual journey around the sun.
Which, of course, it is — since each day following the solstice, the sun scribes its overhead arc ever lower across the sky and we lose progressively more precious light.
Only a little thus far — a few minutes; but the loss will exceed an hour by a month hence.
At the moment of the seasonal change, when energetic spring gave way to languorous summer, we crested the hilltop and began inexorably making our way down the slope on the other side, following the pathway which leads to colorful autumn and then, arduous winter.
A bittersweet paradox which can cast a gloomy pall over a sunny July morning if you choose to dwell on the matter overly long.
Better to take the short view, confine our outlook to the limited perspective of a month or two.
To do as Thoreau suggested: “Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.”
Good advice, which I do my best to heed and practice. For there’s so much about July to savor.
July is a festival in daylily orange, wearing a delicate white-frosted shawl of old-fashioned daisies and Queen Anne’s lace.
A fine time for sitting on the side porch come twilight’s gloaming, as night hawks swoop over a nearby field, fireflies wink their love-calls amid the inky shadows under the evergreens, and bullfrogs harrump into the moonlit darkness along the river.
Local prairie patches are coming into bloom — oxeye and rosinweed, partridge pea and primrose, compass plant and black-eyed Susan, sunflowers, coreopsis, and coneflowers. And those are just a few of the yellows! There are more, plus blooms in red, white, magenta, pink, purple and almost blue, providing you find the right-hued vervain or count chicory.
Butterflies flap and sail, hither and yon, like aerial flowers — often the only thing moving over a prairie on a hot July afternoon.
Bees surely adore July — and why not?
For them the month offers spicy elderberries, yellow-gray yarrow, clovers, honeysuckle, milkweed, and a hundred other fragrantly blooming treats.
Basswoods in bloom often overflow with sweet nectar, which attracts bees by the delighted multitudes. So many, in fact, that it’s often possible to “hear” their massed giddy humming before you actually spot the tree.
Of course you can enjoy some pleasurable sniffing of your own wherever you go for a walk in July. Whether you ramble along a burbling streambank, traipse into shady greenwoods, or slog through an overgrown meadow, chances are excellent you’ll find yourself brushing against various patches of scent-releasing mint — catnip, spearmint, horehound, peppermint, bergamot, pennyroyal, or the only true mint species native to North America, the prosaically named wild mint.
July is also when I like to take an early-morning wade up a favorite smallmouth creek. Not too far — just to whatever point my leisurely angling takes me by, say, 10:30 a.m. If the day is heating up fast, I may even quite an hour earlier.
Not that the fishing action has necessarily ceased until things perk up again come twilight’s first shadows.
But these two or three hours are certainly the morning’s prime
And I’d be hard put to name a better place to watch a July morning begin than standing knee-deep in glorious Buckeye bass creek.
Going downhill isn’t always a bad thing!