This part of the year, my favorite time of the day is just after sunset. I like to just relax and enjoy a beautiful summer evening. Well, at least it looks like summer. It's green and lush; the birds are singing and the bats are flying. Everything says summer, except that I can see my breath. The old thermometer behind me says 47 degrees. Highs here have been in the low 70s, while nighttime lows are I the mid to low 40s. Not real summertime weather. In the last week of June, we're still waiting for summer to fill out with some warmth.
The cool has put a hold on many of the insects. The deer flies are all but gone for now. The after dark show of fireflies has also been put on hold until things warm up.
The birds know it's going to be a chilly night, and a full crop of seeds will give them the energy they need to stay warm. They stay late at the feeders tonight, only flying off to their roosts when the whip-poor-will song begins. I wonder where the little hummingbird will sleep. He too was gathering nectar until almost dark, and there's no way he can store enough food for the cold night. The hummingbird has the highest rate of metabolism of any warm-blooded animal in the world. When he flies, his wings flutter 60 to 75 times per second -- a trait that is more like an insect. If a hummingbird doesn't have constant access to food, he will starve very quickly. To save energy while sleeping, the hummingbird goes into kind of a mini-hibernation -lowering his heartbeat, body temperature, and respiration.
Right next to the back steps of my porch, there is a beautiful patch of canary-yellow primrose. Their rich yellow flowers appear to glow against the green lawn. I cut a few with a sharp knife, then look for something blue to put them in. The blue cream pail I was storing under the kitchen sink is perfect.
Seeing the cream pail brought back memories of my family farm. When the strawberries were ripe, Grandma would ask someone to go to the milk house and skim off some fresh cream from the bulk tank. The thought of strawberry shortcake for dessert seemed to make the morning chores last forever. As often as not, it was me to volunteered to get the cream. I could have used anything to carry it, but Grandma would always hand me the old blue cream pail. Fill 'er up, she'd say, and I was more than willing to oblige. As I went I would picture a mound of sweet, rich cream atop a shortcake smothered with late June strawberries.
I have lots of wonderful memories of living on a small country farm, and this is one of my favorites. I guess it is a testament to how much I like strawberries. They truly are a taste of summer. The memory of how sweet and rich the fresh cream really was had faded over the years, but when we started making organic whipping cream at Organic Valley, my memories were restored.
The pail of primroses makes a lovely addition to the kitchen table. It's amazing how some pretty flowers can change the attitude of a room. It felt so good, I went out and picked a bunch of Shasta daisies, put them in a green vase, and set them on a small table near the bed. The last thing I see before I go to sleep will be flowers. That's got to bring some good dreams.
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