Madness reigns throughout nature as midsummer passes. Everything not yet hatched is racing to do so. Annuals are greedily sucking moisture from the ground, handicapped this year by a pretty nasty drought. Trees are already in full foliage glory, building limbs and roots to survive for years to come. A glance each cool morning, a stroll each sultry afternoon, a reflection each evening shows ongoing activity. Once in a while huge storms shake the soul.
As always, it is easy to run everything through our amazing anthropomorphic filters. Sun and thunderstorm perform like gods to amaze us. Weeds invade carefully cultivated flower beds. Insects display resilient determination, butterflies float happily, bees work industriously. Children and even aged adults invent entire mythologies which interpret and explain complex behaviors and interactions.
On the ground grass has already browned here and there. Summer flowers bloom cascading crescendos, each niche attracting particular pollinators. Fruits begin to ripen on berry bushes and apple trees. Cultivated perennials like hibiscus and roses are everywhere, uncultivated invaders like ragweed and bamboo carpet vacant lots. From one week to another views transform completely as if the world is one a giant stage set.
Robins hop randomly for worms. Swallows swoop ceaselessly over meadows. Dragonflies are beginning to show, lightning bugs arrived a few weeks ago, bees wonder what all the fuss is about. Dreaded mosquitoes and ticks are about to become real nuisances, and in deep woods or late evening on the beach gnats crazily seem to aim for our eyes and ears. “No See Ums,” native Americans supposedly named them, very appropriately.
Harbor waters have begun to turn murky with algae; seaweed arrives in increasing abundance with each high tide. Horseshoe crabs are almost done annual rituals, but still ply shallow waters. A few tiny schools of tiny fish flash about, safe from bigger fish so far, but easy prey for egrets and diving terns. Fortunately, no stinging jelly fish pulsating almost invisibly. And tremendous events underwater, where none of us can see.
People are part of nature too, of course, and desperately try to retain their own seasonal rituals. But this year has been difficult, with pandemic fears and “social distancing” even in parks and beaches, more crowded than usual. Everyone adapts more or less, but fondly remembered last year seems as distantly alien as the last days of the Roman Empire. Yet children play in the water, run on the sand, yell in the back yard, stare at ladybugs or caterpillars on a leaf, flinch from a huge spider. Much remains the same. A big change is that adults, usually worn down from work and just wanting to relax a little by doing nothing while on vacation, are more bored and restless and search for something interesting to do.
Lazy hazy crazy days are genuinely here. Summer has begun, fireworks light the sky, and we regretfully begin the long slide to autumn. Already nights descend sooner, foliage darkens, birds have finished nesting. Over two months of glorious days to go, yet already a melancholic undertone becomes perceptible.