Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Mid-Summer in the Mid-Atlantic

     I love living in the Mid-Atlantic region area in late July and early August. Yes, mid-summer can be and has been a time of hot and humid weather. That is not always comfortable for me; humidity, especially is not my thing. But it is also a time when so much of what got started by nature, home gardeners, and the region’s farmers a few months ago bursts forth in all its splendor and glory. Walking around Mt Airy, Germantown, and Chestnut Hill these days I notice that a wondrous variety of scents now fill the air. Front yards are awash in color as flowers have come fully alive, displaying their leaves and blooms in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes and tones. Window boxes and flower pots are likewise alive, sitting proudly and showing their stuff. And bees, butterflies, and other insects are buzzing, hopping and zooming about, doing their pollinator thing and flashing their colors as they zip about. Fireflies are dancing in the early evenings, adding mystery and wonder. Mornings and evenings are filled with the sights and sounds of dozens of different birds ranging from little tiny hummingbirds and wrens all the way up to majestic owls and soaring hawks. Grocery stores, produce markets and farmers markets are humming with people getting blue and blackberries, strawberries, peaches, cucumbers, fresh corn on the cob, and more. (I love summer fruits, and the peaches the last several years have been especially juicy and sweet.) This is a good time to be out and about, slowing down, and drinking in all the ways this time of the year entices all of our senses. It is quietly spectacular.

   I am fortunate to live in a place with enough land for plantings, both in back and alongside the house. I am also especially fortunate to live in that place with a wonderful gardener. There is a lot of work to be done in a garden, and she spends a great amount of time planting, weeding, deadheading, weeding again, pruning, composting, and trimming. And this is the time of the year when so much of that hard work is wonderfully rewarded. When we walk on one side of the house the sweet and luscious scents of fennel and daytora plants fill the air. A variety of colors also liven up that view of the property. We are also birders, so there are plants and feeders in the back garden to attract birds and butterflies. When we eat breakfast or dinner in the garden we regularly see a variety of white and yellow streak butterflies, Eastern Swallowtails, and the occasional Monarch. We also have sugar water feeders, suet feeders and sunflower seed feeders out, and we have water. So as we sit outside we are able to enjoy what we call, “The Show.” Sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, 2 types of woodpeckers, catbirds, chickadees, tufted titmice, cardinals, robins, house wrens, mourning doves, hummingbirds, nuthatches and the occasional hawk all keep us amused, entertained and in wonder. We have also started harvesting and enjoying some of the fruits of the garden. We are eating some of the cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and rosemary that is growing in the back garden. Some of the plants have been cut and are in  vases in the kitchen and dining room, adding scents and color to those places. And reading, eating, and doing work on the computer outside is definitely a wonderful way of spending time.

  So I am enjoying yet another turn of the cycle. Another progression through the year and looking how humans, nature and the cycle itself do their thing, interact, and present me with so much joy, pleasure and wonder. It is small stuff; noting the birds, tasting the food, appreciating the colors, smelling the scents, and so on. It is not earth-shattering stuff at all. But as a wise cab driver once said to me some 20 years ago when I was taking a cab home from the Art Museum, “The secret to having a good life is to notice, appreciate, treasure and be grateful for the small things. Because most of life is small things; you aren’t rushing into a burning building every day and saving a baby. Most of any day is small stuff, and if you can learn to notice and enjoy that, then that means most of your days have been good ones.” He was right-the small stuff matters so much. I hope you get a chance to slow down, get our savor and enjoy. It is a glorious time to be alive.
(Here are some photos of the Colgan-Davis gardens: Colgan-Davis Garden)

John will be making a guest appearance at the  Rose Tree Park Summer Concert Series in Media, PA with Roger Girke and the Blues Social Club, an all-atar group featuring Bert Harris from Philly Gumbo on bass, Andy Haley , who has played with Eric Steckel, on drums, John on harp, and Delaware’s blues icon Roger Girke on guitar and vocals. Started some 42 years ago, this concert series is a great treat in the tri-state area, and I am happy to be a performer this year. The show begins at 7:30 PM. Bring the family, blankets, chairs and food (no alcohol) and come on out and enjoy one of the Delaware Valley’s gems. More information can be found at: Summer Festival - Delaware County