Like the periodic pop of fireworks this week before Independence Day, the flowers in my garden can hardly contain themselves. The explosion of color is almost audible; its all you can do not to put your hands over your ears to protect them from the impact. The daylilies and coneflowers are abuzz with visitors: crawling with bees, tickled by Red Admirals and crowned with the occasional Tiger Swallowtail. Robins bathe and groom themselves in the dripping fountain; cardinals scuffle and chase in the lilac; high above the third floor swallows ride invisible breezes around the chimney. June may be busting out all over in song, but this week before July, the garden is positively volcanic.
I feel like celebrating too! The calendar page still says June and I've just finished planting the last front porch pots. I've tucked cannas and fountain grass, coleus and cleome, amid the waving wands of the hemerocallis; I've carved niches for colorful annuals in the rain pounded slabs of soil in the erstwhile vegetable garden of volunteer herbs and left behind tomatoes. Up close, the back border is still a mess of sprouts and grass, but I have surveyed the handiwork of June in the rest of the yard and now pronounce it good.....and done! The trailer is out of the driveway; the used pots are stacked by the dirt shed; it is time to contemplate and stroll, water and take pictures, and generally appraise with satisfaction the plant kingdom from the lofty perch of our porch....
Whether June has been dry or sodden, hot or not, the end of mum planting usually coincides with the first of July. Thus does the greenhouse season move seamlessly from the roar of heaters and early mornings and counting pots and filling dirt to the more relaxed routine of walking lines, dewy toes and the background music of the pumps delivering the stream of water through the leaders to each individual plant. When we all say, 'Til February!' and drive off that last day of June to our own gardens or vacations, it is always cause to celebrate.
The calendar page turns on the boys and girls of summer on the baseball diamond. The half pints finish the rain soaked season with double headers and freezy pops....
...and Aaron hits a home run in his last game..."without any errors", he reports. While most of the county dodges showers, the Tarkio ballfield enjoys a gloriously sunny weekend for the final State Line League tournament. We bask in the rays and cheer the home town Cubs team onto a second place trophy.
For those whose avocation, not vocation, is baseball, June sets the sun on organized baseball and ushers in the season of swimming. Red Cross swimming lessons has been part and parcel of summer for three decades of our life: from the days of bus rides from Westboro for the young swimmers to shuttling four different grandchildren to three different classes from 9 am to noon. For many of those years and two full generations of kids, the very same teachers have given weeks of their summer to community and chlorine, coaxing reluctant small fry into the water, persuading them to dip their curly heads into a strange and scary environment, and cheering on the minor victories and accomplishments and progress to independence and self sufficiency in the water. From swimming corners to back dives, more reasons to celebrate fun in the sun in July.
Speaking of July, we got a head start, a sneak preview, a warmup, for fireworks the other night when our local nursing home, Tarkio Rehab and Health Care, set off their annual fireworks display on Friday night. Such a quintessential small town type of event, the perfect example of unselfish neighborliness for all of us free riders in our backyards. A perfect appetizer for both those yearning to purchase the wherewithal for family performances and those desiring the full choreographed son et lumiere of the 4th of July extravaganza. Like Judy Collins, I've looked at the 4th from "both sides now"....and can truthfully report that the American experience of fireworks and the 4th is both wonderful and appropriate whether it's micro...or super sized.
Our family has split its Independence Days over the years between Millie and Charlie's front yard and the driveway and bin floor of Redbarn in Moniteau county. For years, we gathered at my folks' farm for volleyball and pork roast, music and fireworks when the current old folks were middle aged and the current moms and dads were toddlers. Often Annie blew out candles on a patriotically red, white and blue iced birthday cake; why waste a good party when your birthday barely misses the 4th?
Last year, we resurrected that tradition, playing audience while Aaron and Lizzie and Matt choreographed the poppers and parachutes and fountains til the dew settled and the smoke settled tight on the grass.
Though June has been fraught with worry and weather, decisions and delays, that page is turned and July beckons...count your blessings and enjoy!