Friday, July 1, 2016

July's arrived #phenology

This morning's sky was dominated by the waning crescent moon. A supporting cast of paling stars and rippling clouds took their bows as the sun rose. We have the gift of a new day and a new month to share. Since I had pretty much written off the swamp milkweed we've planted over the past few years around the "wet spot" in our yard, today I was delighted with a gift: evidence that I'd been prematurely pessimistic. At least one plant has survived and is in bloom. Now, if the blazing stars that we planted in the same area would make like Lazarus, both the monarchs and yours truly would be very pleased.

a lonely swamp milkweed
a lonely swamp milkweed
Photo by J. Harrington

As, late yesterday afternoon -- early evening, June slowly closed out, the sky was full of a mix of clouds the likes of which I haven't seen for some time, probably not since last Summer. I don't know if Cumulous clouds are part of phenology, but, like thunderstorms, they seem to occur almost exclusively in the Summer and the ones earlier in the day brought brief but significant downpours, perhaps triggering the swamp milkweed blossom to bloom? On the same trip on which I saw the Cumulous clouds, I also saw the first snake of the Summer, a hit-and-run visit on our gravel township road. I'd prefer to not see wildlife at all than to see it as road kill.

Summer's Cumulous clouds
Summer's Cumulous clouds
Photo by J. Harrington

Have you noticed that more and more of us have become involved in local food, organic food, Community Supported Agriculture, Slow Food, Slow Money, local economies and the like? I'm coming to sense, perhaps belatedly, a related growing interest in phenology, or at least in seasonal observations and eating "seasonally appropriate" foods. Cherries, peaches and blueberries, plus local sweet corn are as much signs of Summer to me as are fireworks. I just learned that July is ice cream month. Much as I enjoy ice cream cones, I don't eat them after Halloween. I suppose growing numbers of organic, locavore, butterfly and other pollinator lovers are what's created the market demand in the "green" food sector. Now, can we, and do we want to, also create similar consumer demand for commodity foods produced and certified "Water Safe" [similar to the Salmon-Safe program in the northwest US create by Trout Unlimited and other partners] so that feeding our kids their favorite cereal doesn't destroy their Summer recreations of swimming and fishing in local waters? Something to think about. I remember being able to bike to the beach and to the local river when I was young (you know, last millenium). I'd like other kids to have the same opportunities.

A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky


By Lewis Carroll


A BOAT beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July —

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear —

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream —
Lingering in the golden gleam —
Life, what is it but a dream? 


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