A Most Wonderful Time of the Year


June 30, 2019 by Jean

June busting out patioI can find something to like about every part of the year. Even November, my least favorite month, has Thanksgiving and anticipation of the Christmas holidays. But one doesn’t have to stretch to find things to love about late June in Maine; it is a most wonderful time of the year.

Spring was unusually long, cool and wet this year. And then, in late June, it was as though a switch flipped and the weather turned summery. We’ve continued to have rainy days, but they are less frequent than days featuring the glorious Maine combination of sunshine, blue skies, low humidity, and temperatures in the seventies. It’s still cool enough most afternoons to work in the garden, but it’s warm enough in the morning to eat breakfast out on the porch and warm enough at night to sleep with the windows open. The rains are now the warm rains of summer rather than the cold rains of spring and fall. Last night at bedtime, a classic summer thunderstorm erupted, with flashes of lightning, loud claps of thunder, and a sudden downpour of wind-driven rain. This afternoon, thunder clapped and rain fell while the sun continued to shine; I’m sure there was a rainbow, although I couldn’t see it through the trees.

In the garden, late June is a marvel. Weather-delayed flowers have suddenly burst into bloom in dizzying abundance. Everything seems fresh and new, full of delight and full of possibility. My ritual walk through the garden each morning to see what’s happening and to deadhead spent flowers has gone from about fifteen minutes to taking more than an hour. Flowers are now abundant enough to cut some of them for the house. Currently, there are vases of cut peonies deployed in various rooms, and their swoon-worthy fragrance fills the air.

Biokovo with bumblebee detailAll those blooms in the garden attract an abundance of pollinators, including more types of native bees than I can identify. The bumblebees have been especially numerous this year, including queens so big and fat that they remind me of flying school buses! When I’m sitting on the porch, the whir of hummingbird wings alerts me to look for the hummingbird visiting the coral bells just outside. We are also seeing a large number of butterflies this year. It’s too early for monarchs here, but there have been many other butterfly species visiting, including big showy tiger swallowtails who fly circles around one another in a spiral ascent up into the trees.

Globemaster balls with swallowtails

Early summer also features special sounds. I love to sit out on the porch in the evening and listen to the songs of the hermit thrushes (which always remind me of the flute section of an orchestra tuning up). Keeping windows open at night means getting readjusted to the night sounds of animals. The first summer I lived here I almost called 911 the first time I heard foxes barking in the night, sounding like human screams coming from the woods behind my house. Fox barks no longer faze me, and I relish the chirps of tree frogs in the night. The sound of June bugs hurling themselves against the screens of my bedroom windows can give me pause until I realize what is making that noise. And what was that unfamiliar call outside my bedroom window last night? Was it some kind of owl, some other nocturnal bird, or the sound of some other animal? Perhaps I’ll hear it again tonight and be able to remember it well enough when I wake up in the morning to look it  up online.

Although it has it’s own beauties, winter in Maine is our longest season, and the much briefer summer is our reward. Now it is time to savor every moment of this most wonderful time of the year.

7 thoughts on “A Most Wonderful Time of the Year

  1. Sue McPhee says:

    Ahhhh! My senses are all abuzz just reading this piece, my eloquent friend.
    And I too was scared by the bloodcurdling sound of a fox close by. It was night and we were outside with the telescope, quietly searching for distant galaxies, when the harrowing sound pierced the air. It seemed like it was coming from just behind a nearby rock wall in our yard. We had no idea what it was and we too were tempted to call 911! We quickly disassembled the gear and ran inside, calling it a night. I finally found the sound online and although it was good to unravel the mystery, it was still not terribly comforting. 🙂
    Being out in the woods as we are and leaving windows open too, we are privy to the night orchestra as it plays itself out, in harmony or cacophony as it were. I am grateful.

    • Jean says:

      Sue, Summer really is a feast for the senses.
      My experience with the foxes leads me to think that they use that bloodcurdling bark in two situations: mating and perceived threats to their kits. One morning a couple of years ago, I came around the curve in my dirt road on the way home from my morning walk to see three kits playing just outside the den on the side of the dirt road and the vixen up further on the road moving away from the den (probably on her way to go hunting up some grub for all those hungry mouths). As soon as I appeared, she began barking furiously and running up the road away from the den. I thought her barking had two purposes: (1) focusing my attention on her and not on the kits, and (2) saying, “Kids, get inside NOW.”

      • Sue McPhee says:

        Yes, we figured it was a “war cry” bellowed out upon hearing our voices, quiet as we were, as we were setting up the equipment. We headed the cry and skedaddled into the house right quick!

  2. Diana Studer says:

    And I fall asleep to the gentle and happy sound of the frog or two that have found our pond.

    • Jean says:

      Diana, How wonderful to have resident frogs in your pond. My morning walk sometimes takes me by a pond about half a mile from my house, and I enjoy the “thunk” sound of the bullfrogs residing there.

  3. Jean R. says:

    Our June has been the strangest one I remember. Rain every other day, cold and today was the very first time I needed the air conditioner on.

    Your flowers are lovely as always. And I agree with you about the sounds of summer. Except when a cricket gets in the house which happens from time to time.

    • Jean says:

      Jean, We’re starting to get some higher humidity and temperatures in the eighties. (I like the June seventies better.) And I agree that animal sounds coming from inside the house are not welcome.

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

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