Mother Nature must have gotten anxious this year. Summer doesn’t officially arrive for three more weeks, but when I walked outside this afternoon it was hot enough to bake a can of biscuits on the …
Mother Nature must have gotten anxious this year. Summer doesn’t officially arrive for three more weeks, but when I walked outside this afternoon it was hot enough to bake a can of biscuits on the back deck bannister. Regardless of what the calendar shows, it’s summertime here in Empire, and all that implies.
Last year when the weather started getting toasty, I took Caillou (our collie) to the pet groomer for a summer cut. When I picked him up several hours later, he looked naked and anorexic. Apparently, he was all hair. When we arrived at home that afternoon, it was “Shields Up” for our other two dogs. They thought Caillou was a new dog coming in to eat their kibble. It took several days for them to realize that he was their old friend. He looked odd, but he managed the summer heat much better without his fur coat.
This year I debated whether to get him cut again. Then when the temps hit 98 last week, he looked at me as if to say, “When are we moving to Colorado?” So, I took him last Thursday. He's been a different dog since. This morning, we walked early. Even then, the air was heavy and vacuum still. Jilda snagged the morning papers out of the box and got the mail as we passed. We always walk up the road in front of our house doing litter patrol. I’m not sure why people driving by our house are compelled to toss beer cans and fast food bags in front of our house. I wish the county would pass a litter law where the first offender has to pick up trash along the roadside every Saturday for three months.
I was stewing about litterbugs and thinking of new and creative ways to punish them when I smelled a fragrance that changed my mood. I knew before walking down our drive that the gardenias were blooming. I whine when the weather gets hot, but the gardenias don’t mind the heat at all. In fact, they thrive when the humidity is high. The sultry aroma lounges on the thick air as if it were a pillow. As I walked into the yard, I could almost hear the blues singer, Billie Holliday singing Summertime.
Jilda snapped off a few blossoms to put in the living room and bathroom vases. They made our house smell heavenly. The first lap of our morning walk was slow so the dogs could all do their business. But the second lap was for the grown-ups. We put the mutts in the fence and did a high-intensity walk. The last leg of the second lap takes us up the barn road. During the summer, that stretch of the walk takes us under a green canopy of oak and hickory limbs. Jilda walks a little faster than me and when I looked up ahead, she had stopped in her tracks. Following her gaze, I saw that an oak leaf hydrangea was blooming down in the hollow near the spring. The ivory blossoms with a backdrop of deep green foliage was stunning.
Pulling the phone from my pocket, I snapped a few pictures. Then I stood there admiring the native plant. It looked like a beacon in the forest. It seems that like the gardenias, the wild hydrangeas love hot weather too.
The gardenias and hydrangeas make the heat of the summer almost bearable.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, "Life Goes On," is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.