On a recent morning, I sat on a makeshift bench a short distance from a familiar roadside pullout. The spot is located not too far from the little village of Gettysburg.
Greenville Creek danced merrily along a stone’s throw away.
I was sipping from a cup of carryout coffee, thinking fondly of the stream’s smallmouth bass, and contemplating various signs of the passing season. At least until my caffeine-fueled ruminations got temporarily sidetracked by a landscape turned unexpectedly invisible.
When I’d followed the short path from the truck to the creek, a few luminescent puffs of mist had been swirling above the water. Silken, diaphanous, just enough suspended moisture to soften and scatter the bright morning sunlight, and transform the scene with a more pastel rendering.
All that quickly changed.
The fog increased minute-by-minute. What had initially been a delicate gauze quickly developed into an opaque blanket. Soon the tops of the towering sycamores lining the creek were shrouded. Understory bushes 50 feet away disappeared behind the same cloak. And quickly the fog became so dense the gleaming sun, having only gloriously risen above the tall sycamores, was ignominiously diffused to a subtle golden glow.
The world around me shrank, reduced to few yards in any direction—dimly lit, isolated. I was glad for the friendly warmth from my hot drink.
Weeds and grass a few feet away were glazed by a light sheen of sparkling moisture. I couldn’t help but be reminded of those early-autumn mornings soon to come when heavy dews will silver roadside meadows—turning fenceposts, rusty barbwire, spiderwebs, and a thousand other things equally commonplace, into breathtaking works of natural art.
The message was clear—summer still reigns, but its days are steadily ticking off as we move relentlessly onward.
These late-season weeks always seem to me to be almost too easily enjoyed. A laid-back and lazy time when we can forget our ongoing subtle progress within the circling continuum.
Summer life is sweet and easy. It can lull you into not paying proper attention. Perhaps our senses are also a bit dulled by the heat. And there’s all that backyard barbecue and garden-fresh veggies we’ve been feasting up, making both mind and body sluggish.
Nevertheless, only one more full month and a portion of next remain before this season ends and the next begins. That’s reality. Which isn’t a call to worry—just a reminder.
Midsummer can come and go while we’re so busy with life’s hustle and bustle that we miss it entirely. But the celestial clock is always ticking.
Time indeed flies. We’re already a month past the solstice. The sun is daily edging southward. Dawn comes later, darkness earlier.
We need to savor the here and now. I don’t know about local field crops, but from what I’ve noticed, most gardens and their produce are coming along nicely. Homegrown tomatoes and tender sweet corn await!
The blackberries in my favorite secret patch are ready for picking. And I see wild apples on a tree up the road from my home are already bigger than golf-ball-size, though still hard and green and sour.
After awhile the fog started to thin and dissipated altogether as quickly as it had arrived .
I spent a few lingering moments admiring a nearby patch of bergamot. The plant, a cousin to bee balm, had doubtless been a mass of magenta blooms a couple of weeks ago. When the minty flowers were at their peak, I have no doubt dozens of excited bumblebees were loudly droning amongst the blooms, drawn by the heady perfume.
Bees go positively giddy over bergamot’s supply of sweet nectar and work it daily, sipping and humming in uncountable numbers. Now, though, the blooms were mostly gone and only a few straggler bees were still investigating; the majority were foraging elsewhere.
It’s easy to forget our place when July goes slipping along—easy to see only the lushness of summer and not recall the promise of April or the inevitably of October.
Remember how, back in December, you longed for these midsummer days?
Well, here they are! So make the most of ‘em!
Time moves along—and seasons don’t endure forever.
Jim McGuire, a nature columnist, resides in Englewood, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org