Scarcely three weeks ago we still needed a fire in the woodstove most evenings … and sometimes during the day. Long sleeves felt better than short — plus, more often than not, comfort dictated a jacket be added if you were going to be out and about; even sunny days came with a decided chill.
Not now, though! Not since June took over.
June is still two-thirds spring. But look around. Something fundamental has indeed taken place. The world beyond our doorstep has been transformed, revamped, altered. A divide has been crossed, a gate entered. We’re in new territory. Even those who aren’t particularly outdoor-minded easily recognize the difference. A visible, instant change — definitely for the better!
True, summer doesn’t become official for another two weeks, on the occasion of the passing solstice. But who are we kidding with such technicalities? June is a summer month, pure and simple.
June’s arrival marked not only the beginning of a new month, but in a practical sense, almost overnight, it wrought a fundamental transformation boasting a new look and feel that’s inarguably the genuine season itself — unsanctioned summer.
The weather is hot, moist, balmy, while the landscape is swathed in lush, verdant green which muffles and hides—limiting both sight and sound, drawing the world close, as if everything outdoors were being wrapped in a comfortable emerald quilt.
There’s an innocence in June’s dawns. A sweetness to June’s sunsets. June mists lie soft and still in the valleys, as if time itself had just begun and creation was finding its way deliberately throughout the countryside with no obligation of hastening towards tomorrow.
Birds still sing in June, only now their songs are less strident. Procreative urgency has been replaced with more leisurely melodic interpretation — from the cardinals in the rose thickets near the drive to the orioles in the big sycamore across the stream.
The olive-jade river runs full and fecund, purling over rifflestones, filling the heady air with the not unpleasant scent of mud and fish and aquatic weeds.
During the midday hours waxwings swoop for midges above the moving water. Swallows take over after sundown, as the air cools and shadows begin creeping across quiet pools. At dusk the bats come out, fluttering, diving, sifting the darkening skies.
Some evenings mayflies dance in the gathering twilight. Pale winged sprites, their ephemeral congregation rising and falling in magical choreographed cadence over the water.
The winking yellow gleam of fireflies now start to twinkle in backyards and meadows. A childlike wonderment to June which affects us all.
Sometimes the best way to experience June’s abundance is to simply kick back, in chaise or hammock, and allow the day to wash over you like a gentle rain. Listen to the whispering of breeze-shaken leaves. Count clouds. Watch a buzzard sail high across the vast blue sky.
Explore with your nose. Is that sweet fragrance wafting down the hill the breath of wild strawberries?
June gives hope and joy in equal measure, while encouraging thoughtful leisure. Days are full and long—the longest light periods of the year—so time itself can be savored. You’re not being unduly lazy by enjoying an afternoon snooze under the maples—just aligning your soul with the harmonics of the season.
The sun is warm without being blazing hot. It makes good health sense to position your chair in the sunshine from time to time in order to get a daily dose of vitamin-D. And even when you retreat back to the welcoming shade, you can still benefit from all that beaming solar energy by making jars of sun tea.
June soothes, inviting tranquility while propagating a relaxed appreciation for the subtle nuances of life.
“June was made for happiness,” proclaimed poet Annette Wynne. And it’s true, happiness seems more easily attainable now than at any other time of the year — as if our hearts were long ago programed to grow lighter when the seasons turn and the sun nears it zenith.
Forever can be glimpsed on June’s horizon. A feeling that each new day is a blank page in time’s book, a sense that anything is possible, an awareness that life surrounds us on every quarter. Plus the certain knowledge that it is our choice whether we participate or observe.
June is indeed transformative … and best of all, it transforms us.
Jim McGuire, a nature columnist, resides in Englewood, and can be reached at [email protected]