July is here with it’s fireworks and picnics. People take to the beaches in groves in July. The yard needs mowing weekly and sweet corn is in abundance. Geraniums are blooming on porches. Hopes and wishes in July are “midsummer dreams” and may have a good chance of coming true.
I am in Wilmington now sitting by the splashing fountain and breathing in more salty air. We are going to have “Sunday dinner” on Sunday this week. Of course, I am planning the fourth of July menu as well. Ours’ will be a simple fare with a fancy cake. It has been a while since a holiday occurred giving everyone an excuse not to work-and a while before it happens again.
When I was growing up, the fourth of July often meant the first day of harvesting-and shucking corn. Corn does not allow you much time to work with it. It quickly loses its’ softness after being pulled- and do not think I am talking about enough corn for a meal or two. I have shucked a small pick up load of corn in a day, with help. It takes a crew of folks to put up corn. I can remember as a child, the men shucking the corn and cutting the ends off with a hatchet outside in the shade. The women would be in the kitchen taking the corn off the cob with sharp knives. Some would be blanching the kernels, and then some would pack it in freezer bags and start filling up the “deep freeze” with bags of gold to feed the family in the winter. It was a big mess to say the least and a noisy event. I wonder how many problems got solved in the kitchen that day, amongst the women- and how many deals were made in the shade of the oaks while the men shucked corn.
Fruits and vegetables, home-grown and harvested just after picking them, have an entirely different flavor than the ones found in a freezer section at a grocery store. Maybe, it is the touch of the human hand in the process. Maybe it is the laughter or the shade of old oaks . Whatever it is, it shows up on the table-and the memory of those long ago Julys remain alive and well, with me.
School has been out a few weeks now, and the feeling of that has finally settled in. I do not think there is a clock that is working on the rabbit patch. Their batteries need replacing and I refuse to do so in July. We will eat Sunday dinner when it’s ready and go to bed, when we are tired. I will do all things as I do with my writing-“when the spirit moves me”.
July is a time to listen to mockingbirds showing off-and they always do. I heard one a few summers back, that could even sing like a purple martin, which is no small feat. The purple martins are a long time favorite of mine. My daddy has faithfully had “martin boxes” for as long as I remember. The descendants return to the house they were hatched in, to raise their own and they bring their song with them, learned in South America, where they winter. It is a distinctly tropical sound and a mockingbird shows quite a bit of skill to copy it.
The crepe myrtles are in full bloom in July. I like their colorful spikes that are shades of pink, lavender and white. I was not too fond of them as a child. Their trunks are “slick as glass”, making them about impossible to climb. They are small trees that grow upright, so to a small child they appear quite useless. Now, I find them lovely, especially when a mockingbird is perched there and bragging on a midsummer evening.
July is a noisy, busy month with fireworks and evening thunderstorms. It starts with a holiday that brings us together. I was thinking recently, that this holiday is quite remarkable in that it belongs to all of us that call this nation home and also the whole planet in some way. We are a country formed, by residents of many countries and cultures. People who came together and shared the soil. People who were able to unite regardless of external factors. I am grateful for the many cultures that have contributed from “sea to shining sea” . They came bearing gifts. My hope is that we will all remember how we came about and that every nation on the planet had something to do with it. My own midsummer dream is that we will all be grateful for the people that built our home and to remember- there were many.