By Ash Alder
Remember meeting that first giant? Being dazzled beyond words by its radiance and splendor, gasping as if you’d just entered a world alive with magic beans and singing harps and ornate birds with eggs of gold?
Or perhaps you met a field of them? Smiling sun gazers. Stilt walkers among a carnival of phlox and zinnias and late summer bloomers. Nothing says August like a host of majestic sunflowers. As they follow our blazing sun across the wispy-clouded sky, these towering beauties remind us that we, too, become that which we give our attention.
Listen for the soft thuds of the earliest apples. Notice the silent dance of the spiraling damselfly, wild raspberries, the star-crossed romance between milkweed and goldenrod.
Queen Anne’s lace adorns roadside ditches and, in the kitchen, fresh mint and watermelon smoothies await sun-kissed children still dripping from the pool.
“Can we grow our own?” they ask, eyes still aglow from the cheerful band of sunflowers they saw at a friend’s house days ago.
Come spring, as they work the magic seeds into the cool soil, all the world will sing.
Good Clean Fun
Given optimal growing conditions (plenty of sun and space), the sunflower can grow up to 13 feet tall in as few as six months. And once summer and her birds have harvested the last of its seeds, consider using the head as a biodegradable
I almost wish we were butterflies and lived
but three summer days — three such days with you
I could fill with more delight than fifty common
years could ever contain. — John Keats
Cozy with the Crickets
Sure as the summer garden yields sweet corn and sugar snap peas, the Perseid meteor shower returns. Following the new Sturgeon moon on Aug. 11, the annual show will peak on the night of Sunday, Aug. 12, until the wee hours of Monday, Aug. 13. A thin crescent moon should make for excellent viewing conditions. Cozy up with the crickets. Believe in magic. Breathe in the intoxicating perfume of this summer night.
The luxury of all summer’s sweet sensation is to be
found when one lies at length in the warm,
fragrant grass, soaked with sunshine, aware of
regions of blossoming clover and of a high
heaven filled with the hum
of innumerous bees.
— Harriet E. Prescott, The Atlantic Monthly, August 1865
Food for Thought
The dog days are still here. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the hottest days of summer coincide with the rising of Sirius, the Dog Star, beginning July 3 and ending Aug. 11.
Meantime, sit beneath the shade of a favorite tree.
Sink your teeth into a just-picked peach.
Lose yourself in a tangle of wild blackberries.
And as you watch the busy ants march along empty watermelon rinds and overripe berries, remember there is work to do.
Stake the vines.
Can or freeze excess of the harvest.
Prepare the soil for autumn plantings: purple top turnips and Chinese cabbages; Ebenezer onions and cherry belle radishes; spider lilies and autumn crocus and greens, greens, greens.
Allow yourself to enjoy it.
August creates as she slumbers, replete and satisfied. — Joseph Wood Krutch