This Time of Year

DSCN0675Mornings are hot when I take Travis out first thing. If there are clouds, they will be immolated by the time I start class at ten. We are all very tired.

What portions of the garden are still active must take care of themselves. My rain barrels are nearly empty and I’m only watering the perennials I really want to take hold. One in particular whose name I can’t remember makes fuzzy purple flowers the monarchs love – the people across the street have one. The crape myrtles are pushing for the their second round of blossoms, and the Texas hibiscus still manages to present me with pleasant surprises now and then:

DSC_0230Travis must wait patiently for his last walk of the day; I’m disinclined to emerge much before 7 or 8 p.m. On a recent walk we encountered a magnificent golden garden spider: if she lay flat in my hand, the tips of her legs would stretch nearly all the way across my palm. Soon a tiny suitor will summon the wherewithal to court her, and shortly after that, her eggs laid and wrapped, she will die. I just love spiders.

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The ever-elusive “Yard of the Month” sign appeared in our yard mid-July. I was driving home from work, listening to a podcast, thinking about nothing when I saw the cardboard rectangle and knew it immediately for what it was. As I pulled into the driveway, the garage door rose as if of its own accord and I thought to myself, There are a lot of feet in the garage! You never know where the mind will take you.

Before I had time to formulate a hypothesis, a parade of kids, grandkids and border collie marched out to a rhythm beaten out on practice pads. Naturally there was a trumpet player behind all this blaring some celebratory notes. Okay, well, so long, I said, climbing back into my car. Neighbors on their evening walks turned to stare. I blushed for a long time.

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I wrote about this Yard of the Month thing last year in a post aptly entitled “The Garden of Ego.” It is fitting and just that the honor would be bestowed upon me right when my yard looks its worst. My entire reaction is one of complete relief: I will never have to think about Yard of the Month again. It meant a whole lot more when I didn’t have it than when I did. Goes to show you how far egotistical endeavors will get you. Even accolades can keep you humble, if they are well-timed.

Out in the wild, things are drying up, predictably enough. Although the creek itself is still running – at least enough for Travis to swim on Sunday mornings – the small waterways that wind through nearby woods are back to dust and stone.

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In the deepest shade we can find – maybe there will even be a breeze – Travis and I find the walking quite pleasant even in the harshest part of an afternoon. It’s full sun we really want to avoid, and sidewalks hot enough to burn a pupster’s paws.

On a recent Sunday Floyd and I met with the kids and grands and friends out in Wimberley, at the beautiful Blue Hole. This is a section of Cypress Creek that has been provided with a gravel bottom and two great swings for flying and plunging into the cool clear water. Only 300 people are allowed in the park at a time, so we went out early. It was a bit cacophonous for an introvert like myself, the cypress canopy insuring that every voice will be magnified; but the water was sheer pleasure. (Even if while wading among the huge gnarled cypress roots I found it difficult not to think of snakes.)

IMG_1141Not a snake in sight.

As usual for this time of year, Pride of Barbados is making a great show all over town. On one approach to our house, you go around a gentle curve to the right and there stands one of ours, its blossoms like candle flames in the dense foliage. This morning as we drove back from running errands, I saw a burst of butterflies and small birds rise up from the flowers as the car approached.

DSCN0726I keep meaning to be a diligent photographer and sit outside with camera and tripod, ready to capture some worthy shots. No doubts about me heading for that Good Intentions place when the time comes.

I did, however, manage to capture a few finch pictures this morning. That’s no mean feat! Those guys don’t keep still for a second, and I’m not highly skilled at these things. I’m almost tempted to take the screens off the kitchen window where the feeders hang and try to shoot them from the relatively cool and mosquito-free interior.

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I think of summer as a built-in excuse for lassitude. Who can do anything in this weather? In a week I’ll be with my best friend alongside my favorite ocean. I know you’re not supposed to wish your life away, and I’m well aware that life goes by too fast in any case. But it seems like ten years till next Friday. We even had too many days of July this year: so many a blue moon came to finish out the month.

DSCN0711Down here, even the nights are hot now. California can’t get here soon enough.

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