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Almanac June 2023

June is a daydream; a picnic; a long, sweet song.

Beyond the sunlit meadow — thick with thistle and crickets and Queen Anne’s lace — the grandfather oak has gone moony. Most days, he is patient. Steadfast and uncomplaining. But on this day, when the painted lady drifts past the sea of red clover, he is fraught with expectation. The children of summer are coming.

As they float through the meadow, blankets and baskets in tow, the oak is awestruck. They could go anywhere. Bring their banquet to the altar of some other worthy tree. But they don’t. As they make their way through towering thistle, past bee balm and poppies and raves of day lilies, the grandfather knows: The children of summer will be here soon.

They come singing. Come with just-picked daisies. Come with a spread of luscious offerings:

A palmful of wineberries.

Pickled cucumbers.

Mint, marigolds and beets.

Roasted potatoes.

Dandelion shortbread.

Honeysuckle and homemade mead.

In the shade of the grand old tree, the children sprawl in dappled light, laughing and feasting and giving thanks. For them, hours pass like minutes. For the oak, time stands still.

When you’ve seen as many summers as he has — not to mention all the winters — these are the days you live for. Days of abundance. Days of praise and cicadas. When youth is a state of the heart, each breath is a banquet, and nature gets a glimpse of its own reflection.

Citronelly! Citronelly!

A summer without mosquitos isn’t a summer. No way around ’em, but we’ve got allies. Citronella, anyone?

Also known as scented geranium, citronella is one of the best-known pest repellents to add to the garden. But there are others.

Basil: Not just for pesto! This fragrant, prolific herb deters both mosquitos and flies. Learn how to trim it for larger yields. 

Rosemary: Likes it hot. Thankfully, the woodsy aroma that we know and love sends the swamp devils onward. 

Marigolds: Easy to grow? Check. Better yet, their lovely flowers attract predatory insects.

Bee balm: Out with the nippers, in with the bees and skippers.

Other plant allies include lavender, mint, lemon grass, catnip, sage and allium. Play around to see which plants work best for your garden. Besides mosquitos, what do you have to lose?


Strawberry Moon

The full Strawberry Moon rises on Saturday, June 3. It won’t be pink, but it will appear golden just after sunset, reaching peak illumination by midnight.

A new moon on Sunday, June 18 — Father’s Day — means clear skies for stargazing. See if you can spot Boötes (the herdsman), Libra (the scales), Lupus (the wolf) and Ursa Minor (the little bear) this month. Bonus points for a firefly constellation.   PS