A lot of people consider Memorial Day the beginning of summer, but for me it’s when the swallows return in June. I love swallows. First of all, they’re bug eaters. What’s not to love about that? But they are also nature’s little jet pilots. Ever have them buzz around you when you’re mowing? Zipping and diving around you and each other, they grab bugs disrupted by the mower. I’ve seen one catch a bug in flight, too. Pretty cool.
I’ve been around them close up. In the barn. I’ve noticed they’re timid, or maybe they just prefer to be left alone. You might think I’m a bit nuts, but hear me out. The swallows had built a nest above my horse’s stall, and were sitting by it, waiting for that ‘special moment’ I guess. Then several sparrows came and sat on the rafter right by the swallows, actually surrounding them.
A couple days later I noticed that the swallows were gone. I’m quite curious…were the sparrows intimidating the swallows? Or am I just reading a lot into it? You know, giving human characteristics to animals? I tend to do that…but when you really pay attention, you’ll find that a lot of animals are a lot more intuitive and can read us and connect with us. Or maybe I’m just a wanna be Dr. Doolittle.
Anyway…back to summer…
Pretty soon the flowers are all blooming, the trees are leafed out, and the fruit trees bud out. The sparrows and robins and doves are nesting. The weather warms, the skies blue, and the crickets start serenading the evenings with their chirping.
Summer days are spent working in the yard or garden, taking in a local ballgame, heading out to the lake, riding your horse or 4 wheeler thru the fields or woods, or just enjoying a book or a chat with friends on the deck or patio. It’s time to be outside. By mid June, the farm fields are planted, but there’s still much to do. Cultivating, spraying, baling hay, maintaining cattle and other livestock, cutting wheat, baling straw…a farmer’s work is rarely done.
I live on a small acreage, and grew up on a small farm. I’ve driven a tractor, and disked a field, baled hay and straw, and loaded it into the barn. I’ve mucked stalls, taken care of horses, cattle, ducks, chickens, turkeys and pigs. It was fun when I was young, but it’s a lot of hot, sweaty work.
It’s time to think about taking a break, and maybe doing some camping or taking a trip to see relatives. I like going north, where it’s always cooler by the lake.
We always had a big garden and we canned and froze what we could. I quit having a big garden a few years ago. But I like container gardening (less work) and I especially like stopping by the local farmstand for what I need (a lot less work). I do plan on canning some things again this year. I like knowing what’s in my veggies.
So by July, my plain, drab yard has filled in, and suddenly my home is surrounded in green splendor, shrouding the yard in greenery, some shade, and privacy. Unfortunately, the weeds are also filling in and trying to gain a foothold in my flowerbeds and along fences. But the hotter drier days of summer slow things down, and I can take a breather.
I can enjoy sitting on the deck and just enjoy the show, without feeling the guilt of ‘I should be weeding’. (If I lower the volume on my inner voice) Another thing I love about summer in the country is that I love to have the house open. Fresh air is so important to me. I love working at home with my patio door open…hearing the wind rustle the trees and the birds chirping away.
Just last week I heard my first locust of the season. As I recall, 6 weeks after the locusts start singing is the beginning of Fall. (old wives tale but pretty accurate) So I’m looking forward to an early Fall this year. By then I’ll be tired of the heat, but for now I want to be warm and enjoy being outside without a jacket on, free to walk barefooted and enjoy a good book on the deck.
I remember as a kid, riding my bike down our country road, to our church, and the creek that ran next to it, where my brother and I would pick mulberries. Sometimes we’d head another direction and help one of our neighbors pick pears. He was old, and he drove our schoolbus.
We’d walk out to the woods beyond the fields sometimes with Dad, and have a little adventure. Or we’d find a bare spot in the cornfield, and set up camp and hide for a bit. There’s always plenty to do when you live in the country. I sometimes miss the days of being young, with nothing to worry about and nothing on my mind but ‘what adventure will I have today?’ .
But middle-age has some perks, too. Like I can have ice cream for lunch if I want to. I can sit outside past dusk, and enjoy the fireflies and the crickets and the cool night breezes. There’s something restorative about cool night air after a hot day.
Summer in the country.