There are those who might call last week's weather a little extreme. After a couple of pretty good rainfalls late last week, the temperature rose quickly the next couple of days. By midafternoon on Monday it was 86 degrees and very humid. Tuesday, the Kickapoo River was still high on its banks and flowed muddy. The bank thermometer in La Farge read 99, and oh, was it humid.
I try not to think too much about the heat, and let the day come and go at its own pace. Outside chores can bring on a sweat quickly, so I always limit my work time outdoors when it's so hot. For me, the hot weather is much easier to deal with than when it's 30 below and up to my waist in snow. We knew how to deal with a hot summer day when we were kids. You could find us catching crawfish in the meadow stream or at the swimming hole at the lake or river. These were good days for staying wet, but the truth was, most any summer day was good for that. I guess I have a pretty good history with warm weather and always knew how to deal with it, but these days I'm more comfortable if I simply slow down.
After sunset comes the soothing coolness and a calm sense of peace. The moisture-filled air creates a light fog, and wet dew covers the grass. A Whip-poor-will sings up the valleys, and the crickets join in. Fluttering bats silhouette the cobalt sky, and the yard is alive with fireflies. This is my favorite part of a hot summer day—the soothing relief that comes in many forms.
There have been young fledgling birds coming to the bird feeders the past few days. About a dozen young rose-breasted grosbeaks are led to the sunflower seeds for a lesson in how to eat that will stay with them their whole lives. One particular adult female grosbeak was trying to show her cowbird youngster how to crack open the black oil seeds. He was a slow learner, so she had to stuff them in his gaping mouth. It takes a lot of sunflower seeds to satisfy a begging young cowbird. The young cardinals and blue jays should show up any time now.
There have been several very brightly colored goldfinches at the feeders lately. Their yellow plumage is at its nuptial peak. No females are present, just the males, telling me the females have started their egg laying. As soon as the first thistle appears, the goldfinches start their nesting duties, as they prefer to line their nests with the soft thistle down.
The little bluebirds too are close to trying their new wings. Often a single youngster can be seen looking at the world from the hole in the birdhouse. Everything he will ever need is out there before him and all he has to do is fly to it.
There's been an increase in the number of window collisions since the young birds started flying. This morning I heard a loud thud at the kitchen window and quickly ran outside. Out the door I went to find a Rose-breasted grosbeak. He was only a little shaken, and was able to fly off within a couple of minutes. Actually, most of the wild birds that have a collision with a window will get up and fly away with little more than a headache after their mishap.
The flower gardens have had a little deer damage, but not enough to be sad about. In the early morning light, the beautiful dark blue Siberian irises make their annual appearance. How can a single flower be so lovely? The group of blue spiderwort also makes a colorful morning statement, and the bees visit them first each day. A busy bumblebee is covered in yellow pollen as he flies from the blue spiderwort to a patch of primrose.
The time of new beginnings started with the earliest signs of spring, way back in January when the horned owls began their spring courtship. Since then, there has been a growing emergence of life from everywhere. Each day there's a new flower or butterfly or the begging calls of a new, young bird. Each day the leaves turn greener and the grass begins to put out seed, as the time of new beginnings is at the top of the cycle.
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