It's mid-July and a time that I call the beginning of the end of summer. It's the time when many, many kinds of birds have raised a family and they show up at the feeders with their hungry youngsters. This past week I watched the frenzied antics of young grosbeaks, house finches, grackles, red-winged blackbirds and hairy woodpeckers. With their wings fluttering at their sides they beg for their parents to feed them.
Some of summer's birds may raise two or more families of young birds before summer is over. Other wild birds have raised their young and are starting to disperse. Many of the robins that were here a couple of weeks ago are gone. Large flocks of young starlings fly over the farmyard and flocks of young red- winged blackbirds gather in the evening to roost.
Young gray squirrels who were born in late February are now on their own. Some of the adult squirrels are now in the process of raising a second family.
The chipmunks, who hibernate through the winter, are also raising a second bunch of young while the first ones born are now big enough to forage for food on their own.
The little gold finches are now just starting to nest using the down of thistles to line their nest.
Besides the thistles, other plants are putting out seed for next summer's plants. Brome and canary grass have tall stems which are full of nearly ripe seeds. The cow parsnip is already dropping its large black seeds and the seed laden black raspberries fall to the ground or are carried off by a hungry bird and end up being dropped elsewhere.
The sumac berries are forming large red clumps that will help provide food for next winter's birds and mice.
This seems to be the year of the rabbit, there seems to be young bunnies everywhere. They quickly dart in and out of the tall grass and corn fields. Although they nibble here and there at my garden, I know how important they are to the natural food chain of life.
July is a wonderful time. It marks the peak of the growing season and a time of new life all around. It's a time when my thoughts brush with the autumn harvest yet to come. A time when nature plans for the future and all life senses the presence of a change yet to come.
What better time than now to be outdoors enjoying the earth and all that is meant to be. A leisurely walk down nature's trail can bring you closer to yourself and help you realize how you fit in the real living world.
What better time than now to take off your shoes and walk through the cool grass or stand knee deep in a stream or pond. This is the best time of year to ground yourself to mother earth.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley