Summer Almanac

Summer is a poem you can taste

By Ash Alder

In summer, the song sings itself.
— William Carlos Williams


Swollen fruit beckons us to the garden, the orchard and the roadside stand, where baskets of golden peaches draw in the warmth of the morning.  Trailing vines wind along the woodland path, but damselfly makes her own, dancing from milkweed to goldenrod, goldenrod to thistle. The air intoxicates us, primrose thick and sweet like honey on the tongue. We breathe in the warmth.

In June, cicada skin clings to the grooved bark of the ancient willow. We have let go of spring, our palms now cupped to receive July blackberries, homemade mead, scuppernong, Cherokee Purples sliced thick.

Plump strawberries slowly vanish from the patch. As evening fades, whip-poor-will sings his name into the darkness. Nothing gold can stay, the crickets lament. And so we savor each delicious moment. 

Lammas happens August 1. On this harvest festival, the season’s first sheaf of wheat is baked into a sacred loaf. We celebrate the spirit of the grain. We celebrate this season of indulgence. And as we sow our autumn gardens — beets, carrots, peas and greens — we sing to the soil a song of thanks. Another harvest will follow.

Be here now, the crickets tell us. They bring us back; invite us to sip slowly the magic of this golden season.    

bunch of fresh mint, white background directly above

Taste of Summer

National Watermelon Day is celebrated on Thursday, August 3. Slice one for a backyard picnic. Slip it into your salsa and salad. Make a sport of seed spitting. Juice one into sinful nectar to add to lemonade or sangria. The following recipe (and homegrown watermelon) came from a friend:

Fresh Mint and Watermelon Float

2 1/2 cups fresh watermelon chunks

12–15 fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

12 ounces club soda or carbonated water

Vanilla ice cream

In a blender, combine watermelon, mint and water. Blend and pulse quickly for 30–60 seconds (or until watermelon breaks down). The blending will “de-carbonate” the water, but it should still have some fizz. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl to remove seeds. Fill two glasses with vanilla ice cream and pour watermelon soda over top. Garnish with additional fresh mint. Serves two.

Ethereal Wonders

Sure as the July garden brings fresh cabbage (read, sauerkraut), the August sky will reveal to us countless wonders. Following the full Green Corn Moon on Monday, August 7, the annual Perseid meteor shower will peak on the night of Saturday, the 12th, until the wee hours of the 13th. Although a waning gibbous moon may compromise the view, it’s possible to see up to 60 to 100 meteors per hour. Cozy up with the crickets and test your luck. 

Something you can’t blink and miss: a total eclipse of the sun on Monday, August 21. Visible for up to two minutes and 40 seconds along a narrow arc that starts in Oregon and slices across the states to South Carolina, the Great American Total Solar Eclipse will cause eerie bands of light to shimmer across the darkening sky as the sun slips behind the hungry moon. Do wear eye protection for this so-called “celestial coincidence,” and find maps of the path and more information at Prepare to be truly dazzled. North America won’t see anything like it again until April 8, 2024.

Our fear of death is like our fear that summer will be short, but when we have had our swing of pleasure, our fill of fruit, and our swelter of heat, we say we have had our day. 

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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