I am back up north in the Adirondacks, sitting with friends on a porch, watching nighttime slowly blanket the earth. We are talking and laughing, hanging out and enjoying the warm evening, slapping black flies and mosquitoes. A yellow crescent moon peaks out from behind a billowy cloud above the eastern ridge. I smile as we discuss the earth’s rotation on its axis, its revolution around the sun and galaxy, mysteries of astronomy and physics that give us our regular cycles of life. Then suddenly, up in the dark tree branches silhouetted against the night sky, one lone yellow green spark flashes. I sit up and point, but of course its gone. A few moments later, in a slightly different spot if flashes again. I realize its a firefly, the first one I have seen this year! I try to show everybody, but it seems only to flash when only I am looking in its general direction. They tease me about my imaginary firefly, my little star fairy spreading pixie dust through the pine trees on the hill. I see it several more times before it fly away out of sight. Fireflies are purely summer creatures, symbols of warm evenings and endless summer fancies. Welcome back little fireflies!
Today it isn’t raining! Today I am home! Today I can finally plant all the seeds I started in the sun boxes in the garden where they can grow into yummy vegetables! It took all day, working diligently and delicately in the sun and swatting black flies and mosquitoes, but the garden in planted! It makes my heart sing to have these tiny little plant in the ground. I will watch over them day by day, pull the weeds, keep out the varmints and hopefully the fruit of my labors will be rewarded with delicious homegrown, organic vegetables! Sometimes hard dirty work work makes you feel alive and satisfied!
Sitting on the porch in the evening, enjoying the blue cool of the approaching night, sun has disappeared behind the ridge, but the sky still has full sunlight. Breathing in the sweet smelling evening air, and rocking gently in my rocking chair. Something buzzes by in a blur of motion. It stalls at the startling red geranium flowers hanging in a pot from the porch roof. Its a ruby throated hummingbird! The first one spotted of the season. I follow its manic tour of all the flowers in the front yard, dipping and tasting each one. Then it whizzes off into space out of sight. It must be time to put the humming bird feeders out with their bright red nectar sweet liquid perfect for attracting and feeding these wondrous little winged creatures!
The early spring flowers have faded and other late spring flowers are emerging. The apple blossoms are gone replaced by minuscule bright green orbs that will grow into apples. The peach blossoms are gone as well, but I am watching the tiny, hard, dark green oblong nodules on one tree and the fuzzy pale green ones on the other. I hope the grow into peaches and nectarines, but having sprouted from pits in a compost pile, who knows what fruit they will bear, maybe they will be like crab apples, small, malformed, and bitter. For now, I am enjoying the slow exploration of watching them get slightly bigger every day, incrementally small changes that can only be appreciated through time and patience.
One food that I miss dearly every year when it disappears from the grocery produce isle in the fall is cherries. When they reappear, its like a taste-bud’s dream come true, an old friends come back to visit. The one pound bags of delicious, sweet juicy dark ruby cherries have returned! Hold one by the stem, stick in your mouth to separate the fruit from its stem. Let it roll around on your tongue, feel the smoothness of its skin, the firm roundness of the fruit, mouth waters in anticipation of the first bite. Teeth break through the skin with a small pop sound, pulverize the soft tissue inside, squeezing out the sweet red fresh cherry juice exploding in your mouth. This is what summer taste like!
I knew they were back, having heard their melodious call in the woods and seen fleeting glimpse of bright orange in the trees. As I was walking through the living room I happened to glance out the front window and there one was, perched on the bird feeder eating orange delight suet. I stood transfixed, having never seen on eon the feeders before. Bright orange breast, black head and black and white wings, pecking serenely at the gooey suet cage. He stayed a long time eating his fill as I watched him. Oh spring rejoices and summer is close on its heals!
There it is, sitting in a great pale green pile in the grocery store, 10 ears for 4 dollars! Oblong, layered, rippled green leaves protectively cradling rows of neatly formed golden kernels of summer sweetness. Each yellow orb near to bursting with starchy crunchy mount watering goodness. Let them soak for a while in water, throw them directly on the grill or coals with a steamy hiss. The outside skin of leaves chars black with white ashy edges as the inside steams up into the perfect ear of corn on the cob. Off the fire, and wait a few minutes to let the outside cool enough to touch. Gingerly unfold the steaming hot leaves to reveal the golden ear of corn. You can leave some of the leaves attached twisted into a handle. Slather it with butter, sprinkle salt, and now you have the first corn on the cob of the summer!