Summer sucks the energy and enjoyment out of our lives. I hate summer.
At my family reunion on Saturday, people arrived with faces as red and wet as a lobster boiling in a pot as they sought shelter in the air conditioning.
I would just hang out in air-conditioned comfort, but even it isn’t that comfortable. Sun streaming through our big east windows overwhelms the pitiful bursts of cool air from the vents.
And my gardens need me. The pungent aroma of baking marigolds greets me at the front door. The flowers play dead if I miss even a day or two of rainmaking via the garden hose.
My flowerbed has been attacked by a plague of Biblical proportions. Green grasshoppers, tan grasshoppers and brown grasshoppers with striped legs leap at me when the shower of water disturbs their munching.
This year, the mother of all grasshoppers is chewing her way through my basil, hydrangea and salvia. I have named her Abaddon, the Hebrew word for destroyer.
My “obscure bird grasshopper” is anything but obscure with her bright green body, black wings and distinctive yellow stripe.
Entomologists say the obscure bird grasshopper species is related to the infamous old world species that history reports as a plague of locusts. She can certainly chew through a sprig of basil in the sweating of a brow.
In summer, the night air is thick with insects. The night is anything but silent as the cicadas buzz o-wee, o-wee, o-wee. Hours and hours of o-wee, o-wee. Then the tree frogs join in.
I am accustomed to the sound of my alarm in the morning: Beeep, beeep, beeep. Babeep, babeep, babeep.
But Saturday morning, I heard my alarm going off outside the window. Beeep, beeep, beeep. Babeep, babeep, babeep. A mockingbird was determined that I would not snooze through my alarm and be late to the family reunion.
I do enjoy the birds of summer.
A pair of summer tanagers has taken up residence in the neighborhood. The red male and his yellow mate flash through the trees.
The indigo bunting shimmers royal blue in the intense summer sun. Leafy branches provide insufficient camouflage for the Baltimore oriole’s distinctive orange body and black wings banded with white.
Hummingbirds buzz me as I tend the charcoal grill, urging me to leave so that they have a clear shot at the hot sugar water in the feeder.
Fresh-mown grass smells linger in the air. Mowing crews leave a pungent fragrance of cut weeds as they move through roadside ditches. Fresh-cut fescue smells sweet and moist. Bermuda produces a more subtle leafy smell.
Nothing is sweeter than the fragrance of a summer rain. Raindrops strike the ground, releasing spores of the bacteria Actinomycetes from the dirt. The water also mixes with the oils given off by plants, releasing them into the air.
Summer tomatoes are an entirely different food than those flavorless fakes sold in the grocery store. I love the cucumbers, sweet corn, melons and peaches of summer.
And meats and veggies just taste better when charred on the grill.
I hate the summer heat. But I love the fragrances, colors and tastes of summer.