Once again the Earth has cycled back to where its northern half (which happens to include us) is tilted towards the sun, giving us our longest days and some of our warmest weather — our High Summer.
In our corner of the Catskills, and on our reach of the Hudson Valley, in terms of burgeoning life-forms, this is a rich, rich time of year — a veritable lifestorm. We are literally surrounded by the fruitfulness of the season. The heavy, humid air we wade through is thick with insect life (though not as thick as it should be). Every specie of animal is busily reproducing their kind and raising their young. Myriad trees and other plants are racing for the sky, sending down new roots and making seed.
The very topsoil at our feet is seething with countless forms of life — animal, insect and microbial.
As I sit here on this beautiful June day I am happily bombarded by a host of sensations.
Most striking, with memories of a barren winter and a sparse spring fresh to mind, is the rich green-ness all around me, from tall trees that seem even taller now with their proud leaves out, like sails set on the Sea of Life (green reaching halfway up the sky), down to the younger, smaller trees, shrubs and vines, climbing and entwining higher and higher and then all the way down to grasses and mosses bending underfoot. It is a veritable sea of green, growing steadily deeper and darker.
The pleasant warmth of early summer is wonderful, too, as a light breeze brings myriad scents to me. The term “spectrum” is generally used visually, yet my ears are joyously assaulted by an entire spectrum of sounds ranging from the gentle breeze sighing through the trees and shrubs, to the ecstatic cacophony of a multitude of songbirds all singing their summer songs. It is so interesting to watch the light change as clouds move overhead, their shadows dappling tree, grass and shrub with more subtle shades, then becoming bright again as the sky changes back to sun. No wonder some of the most powerful art was made in trying to do homage to this timeless natural palette.
Recent rains have thankfully pulled us (temporarily?) out of the dangers of drought. The Sawkill had been becoming distressingly low with carpets of algae forming where they never should be and the woods were a dry, crunching cacophony underfoot. Now the alga has dissipated and the forest is wet, tamping down drought and fire-danger for now. Also, the rain has given the bears a much-needed rinse. Since their fur is so oily they can smell really bad by now (think rancid grease). Let’s all hope and pray the rain continues (intermittently, of course) so that we can avoid the worst-case scenario of brush- and wildfires. Unfortunately, unless we do something about the conditions we’ve allowed to accrue (like extreme amounts of underbrush in the forest), the very real danger of fire is not going to go away.
Midsummer, the high tide of life
It is that magical season of (almost) unending daylight with every life-form taking advantage of it — “making hay while the sun shines” — including us. Who could possibly stay in bed when the sun is up so early or go to bed early when it is still light out? It is only natural for every creature at midsummer to want to simply go, go, go, non-stop. Please safely make the most of this special time. Sad to say, but the days have started getting a tad shorter each day. Let’s make the most of each and every one.