Every month comes bearing their own unique gifts to the season. I thought of that, this morning, at the “early service”, for I found myself having a sense of dread, to open the back door. The heat of July drains me and then there are the mosquitoes. I am not the only one that complains, for the geraniums do too. So does the periwinkle. Both need sunshine to thrive, but neither can stand much of it . . .in July. I move the pots around several times a day. It is a sad sight to see them wilt or wearing scorched leaves.
I would love to plan a garden party, but it would be about impossible to enjoy a delicate sandwich and berries, without the fear of swallowing a fly, in July. I will wait for September, I think, in that case.
I always blame July, when I can not get the clothes to dry on the line. Still and humid air are not ideal conditions for drying clothes. Even sheets, take longer than usual, but there is nothing that beats sleeping on sheets that carry the faint scent of the outdoors. . . .especially when the mimosa blooms.
With this poor attitude, I went out to the early service. The morning air was cool enough, . . and there were butterflies making their morning rounds. The locusts were singing as if they were performing a cantata. (these are not the locusts that destroy crops) This winged chorus is always reserved for July. It is an echoing song that I have heard since childhood. I had forgotten that butterflies flock to the rabbit patch in July . . .and that the locusts sing too.
Already, I was regretting my former notions, for next I remembered cucumbers, tomatoes . . .and sweet corn. I can not deny that the creamy cucumber salad gives July some clout amongst the months. Corn picked, shucked in the shade of an old tree and eaten in a few hours , never tastes any better, than in July. Maybe, my favorite is the yellow summer squash, for I could eat them three times a day.
The Black eyed Susans, light up a corner in the “Quiet Garden”, now. They were not invited, for I really wanted a garden for roses only. But one July, years ago, they showed up. Now, they claim a large corner, and somehow convinced their cousins, the rudbekias to join them.
These things persuade me to make amends with July, . . .but it is still too hot for a garden party.
I could not mow, as it seems the mower now, needs a new belt. Instead, I cut the lower branches on the sycamores and dragged them to the burn pile. I cleaned the front porch and then moved inside. Reluctantly I started scraping the paint from the kitchen ceiling. I do not mind most tasks, but ceilings are my least favorite. Besides standing on a ladder, there is the neck to consider and all the while a terrible mess collects on the floor.
There is always something to do on the rabbit patch, but at night when I saw *”Where the dog ran” streak the night sky, I felt privileged. . .after all, you had to be in the country . . .and it had to be a clear night in July, to have seen it.
On Friday, the blessed rain came. It all started with a strong wind. I went out and stood in it. I brought Cash, knowing he would take to running around the territory for he always does when the wind gusts so. The wind was bold and cool. It stirred up the apple mint and the smell of it was everywhere. In the country you can smell rain and see it coming across the fields. I stood there mesmerized watching the wind rush through the trees. Cash bolted about enjoying the event of a summer storm. When small droplets began to fall, Cash and I hurried for the back door.
For some reason, I did not mind returning to the task at hand -which, of course, was the kitchen ceiling. Cash napped lightly on the floor, as he frequently had to dodge the falling debris. Christopher Robin, the royal cat, napped unconcerned and out of harms’ way, which is his habit.
On Saturday, the effects of the rain could still be felt on the territory. It was a cool morning and overcast. Not long after the early service, I cut the hateful thorned vines that were attacking some azaleas in the shady corner. I picked up a few branches, the wind had loosened and then went back in to the ceiling.
When at last, that was finished, I planned to be a genteel lady, for at least a little while, who spent her time painting, with shades of lavender – or reading fine literature. To appease my notion, I painted a lamp a faint hue of lilac. I am drawn the palest forms of color. I always think yellow is my least favorite color, until I come face to face with it, in an almost, yellow rose. Then I am hooked and declare it as beautiful as any other color.
The little lamp cheered the mantle up and I was pleased. Next, I read some passages by Thoreau. Thoreau wrote like a poet and I never fail to profit from his journals . However, as much as I enjoy, solitude, I do not desire to live in the woods, with the pines as my only company. I could stand it for a while, and probably enjoy it, but not for years. Still, if there was ever a human that was brave enough to live his own truth, it was Thoreau. . .and I place great stock in that.
A light rain fell steadily with only slight pauses. On one such interval, Cash, Christopher Robin and I took a quick walk out, to the edge of the young woods. There in the bracken, I found a pink rose-of -Sharon, blooming and nearly choked by wild grape vines. Every other rose- of -Sharon on the rabbit patch is purple, so the bright pink blossoms surprised me. I went to work to cut the vines away and the bush bobbed and bowed with each cut from the dull trimmers. The rain came before I finished, but the bush had more liberty than before. I promised the young plant, I would return when conditions were better.
I felt like a “fair weather friend”, as I hurried back to the house, in the case of the pink rose -of Sharon . . . .and in the case of July.
*”Where the dog ran” or the “way the dog ran” is the name the Cherokee gave to the Milky Way.