By Jim McGuire
We’re now a week-deep in June. Spring is winding down as summer looms, and the natural world follows the path through this seasonal transition.
Much of the haste of bud and bloom has passed. The first spate of wildflowers have come and gone, along with redbuds, dogwoods, and foam-white sprays of serviceberry.
Woods and meadows are gloriously lush, swathed in a newly acquired mantle of verdant green. Not the vibrant thousand-and-one shades of early spring, however — greens on leaf and blade are steadily darkening into more sedate hues befitting early summer.
Birds still sing, of course, but their songs lack the frantic quality heard a month earlier. Dawn’s chorus is more like a swelling symphony rather than a sudden explosion of sound. Courtship and territorial disputes have been largely settled. Tensions eased. Nests have been constructed, eggs laid, some have even hatched; hungry mouthes now need feeding. Available energy has been re-channelled toward parenting.
Furred creatures, in hollow-tree dens, and fresh-dug burrows, are similarly engaged in their own parental duties — feeding, nurturing, caring for needy young.
Rivers and creeks flow steady and full. Sometimes, given June’s propensity for showers, a bit too full from a fisherman’s standpoint. Yet in time the silt will settle, the water clear. Stream levels will return to their early-summer norm. And the result of this annual filling and scouring will be good for the stream and its fish. A fact which even the most impatient angler knows … though that doesn’t make waiting any easier.
Still, when June comes along, the days seem more deliberate, more indulgent. The urgency so obvious during the season’s early weeks dissipates. The pace relaxes, allowing time for a degree of luxuriating. It’s as if these transition weeks are telling us to slow down and take the time to enjoy life. A gift of expanded time is brought about by the blessing of additional light.
Though the solstice won’t arrive until the 21st, we’re already enjoying fifteen-plus hours of daylight. Since March’s equinox, that’s a whopping three-hour increase in which to savor each and every day. What a truly life-enriching bonus! Plus we’ll keep gaining extra minutes of light until the year’s longest day rolls around.
Yup, June is always a generous month, liberal with its natural gifts, bounteous with seasonal pleasures … and softly sweet as a toddler’s gentle kiss.
Dawn comes filled with mist that gathers in the valleys and hovers above lakes and streams — an incandescent, crepuscular veil from which the land slowly emerges, as if conjured before our eyes through the mysterious vapors of creation. Sun glints off a thousand jeweled droplets. The light seems to glow, to wrap and envelope, to cup objects in gentle palms. The sky is laced with shades of salmon and saffron and silver-gold — colors which defy description.
June’s sunrise arrives early, soon after five o’clock daylight time — while dusk begins late and lingers, as if the day were reluctant to let go. Moreover, these long, luscious days always carry a sense of peace and tranquility, as if time were unending and leisure the most natural pace in the world.
But don’t let this saunter fool you. June is just settling in, finding its cadence. The lengthy hours of daylight are there for a reason — to sustain the annual surge of growth that carries throughout the summer and completes in the bounty of autumn’s harvest … a fundamental reverberation of this sixth month’s quiet hum.
June is a thousand heady perfumes.
The smell of cut grass in the city. Or new-mown hay in the country — an unmistakable fragrance full of rain and sunlight and earth.
Wild roses blossom beside rural byways, briery tangles wherein cottontails hide and shy brown thrashers build their nests. Other roses open their petals along the edge of wet meadows and bogs, in forgotten woodlot corners, on rocky hillsides or high, dry hill-country ridges.
June begins with a full moon and ends with the first fireflies twinkling in the meadows. Bullfrogs harrump in basso chorus from ponds and backwaters. Whippoorwills call loud and repetitiously. And sometimes, the midnight quaver of a nearby screech owl sends a shiver up your spine.
June is a special month. A bridge between seasons, a reward that’s both summary and promise.
Savor it while you can. Fill your senses at its table. But do it now … for in spite of its serene and sumptuous demeanor, June doesn’t last forever.