Why do I like summer?
Let’s count the ways . . .
Maybe it’s because I’ve never grown up – so I look forward to the no-school, boyhood joys of mud and water and catching frogs and fish.
Or perhaps it’s because spring-into-summer is the season of birth and renewal.
We see baby rose-breasted grosbeaks and downy woodpeckers and chickadees begging their parents for seeds from our feeder. The bluebirds have fledged and the adults already have begun another family.
Baby cottontails – oh, so cute! – prowl the fringes of the garden, where we HOPE they’re foiled by the chicken-wire fence protecting the new leaves on the green beans.
A doe and her fawn lurk in the shade at the edge of the woods; mother ever alert, youngster intent only on a meal.
Another brave doe explores the prairie closer to the house, munching whatever succulent greens, blossoms and buds strike her fancy.
The prairie flora change daily, with golden Alexanders and spiderworts giving way to butterfly milkweeds and purple coneflowers and rattlesnake masters and black-eyed Susans and gray-headed coneflowers and purple prairie clover.
Monarchs lay their eggs on the milkweeds, where the voracious larvae will feed and pupate.
Great-spangled frittilaries and red admirals join the monarch in flitting from flower to flower in search of a nectar meal.
On the Mississippi, a flock of sub-adult pelicans – old enough to fly in perfect formation, but too young to breed – cruise over the channel. In the backwaters, downy young mallards skitter through the duckweed. On the wooded slopes, fledgling bald eagles test their wings as they fly clumsily between perches on a cottonwood snag.
Even the road ditches are abloom with the bumper crop of elderberry blossoms. Pale-blue chicory somehow thrives in the harsh strip of dirt between the pavement and the grassy shoulder.
OK, so I’m NOT a big fan of chiggers and hot weather and the sweaty chore of watering and weeding the garden. But the kid in me still savors summer!