Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Things

Our summer started out much wetter and cooler than normal. It did turn hot and dry as usual after that, but this week is already chilly like fall! I know that summer will be back, but it sure seems like a short season this year. So let's talk of summer things before it all fades away. 
Sailboat in St. Joseph

Sailboats on Grand Traverse Bay
We recently took a long weekend trip to Michigan, where we visited some of my favorite spots. Being nearly surrounded by water, you know you'll see beaches when you're in Michigan. I grew up on the west side of Michigan, so that's where we always visit. And being on the west side means that I'll want to see sunsets on the lake while I'm there. 
Sleeping Bear sunset

Sunset in St. Joseph/lighthouse under reno

St. Joseph sunset

Sunset glow on Lake Michigan

There were lake views, and sand dunes, and scenic sites at every turn. 
View from Two Lads Winery in Traverse City

Glen Arbor beach

Glen Lake overlook in Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes

But what I love best about summer is the garden in my own back yard. 
Black Eyed Susans with Munstead Lavender
Chinatown rose
Goldfinch in Chinese Fringe tree
The sunny suburban backyard that I call home plays host to many small visitors, and I welcome them to my garden with open arms. The sight of bees, butterflies, birds, and dragonflies just says summer to me. 
Monarch Waystation 
The first monarch visitor of this year
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Bumblebee enjoying nectar from Tequila Lime zinnia
Pearl Crescent butterfly
And what could be more summery than the very flowers that make up my garden? 
Birdbath and black eyed susans

Grandpa Ott morning glory
Black eyed susans with African Blue basil
Summer sunflower
Karley Rose grass

Tequila Lime zinnias with new washer ball

Queen Red Lime zinnias-the Queen of my garden! 
Well, I've spoken of all my favorite summer things. Now do you think that summer will come back? It's only August after all! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer Slowdown

I'm the type of person who likes to get involved in things, especially when it relates to music and gardening. Ever since I took an early retirement, I've added quite a few things to my agenda. It makes for a busy lifestyle. I enjoy these activities, or I wouldn't participate in them. I've made many good friends, and I've had lots of fun.
But then there's summer time. Ahhhh! Many of my activities have gone on hiatus, and my life has slowed way down. It's strange. And wonderful!

Summer lends itself to slowing down, doesn't it? The heat can make us feel a little lazy. It's time to simply relax and enjoy a little quiet time.

Sometimes the garden slows its growth in mid summer too, but that hasn't happened quite yet. It's a jungle out there! With all the rain we've had, my plants are bigger than ever.
I have to admit that it has kept me from constantly buying more plants, as I've been known to do. My current flowers have grown so large that they've filled in all available space. Weeds haven't found much room to sneak in, which has meant less work.
I've had more time to enjoy my quiet hobbies, especially reading. I've devoured more books than usual this summer. But mostly, I've been taking pictures of the garden. Yes, I know that I always do that. However, I've taken a lot more than usual. It's a little overwhelming to keep them sorted out and edited. But the blooms have been coming on fast and furious out there, and I don't want to miss anything.

The endless rain that we struggled with earlier this summer seems to have finally tapered off. We're still getting a little more rain than normal, but it's more spread out now. One week in June we got five inches of rain! Now it's about an inch or so, which is actually ideal.

So I'm enjoying my summer slowdown, that for sure. It's been very relaxing, and very low stress. Isn't that how life should be?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Summer It Rained

This year has become the Summer It Rained. To most of you, this would not be unusual. Summer means thunderstorms and cloudbursts, right? Well, that's not how summer usually goes around here.

Sometime in June, someone puts up the dome, and the rain simply stops. Storms build up, then pass us by. Just a little north of us, it will rain buckets. The dark clouds will hover, threaten, then move on without giving us a drop. 

 But not this year. It has rained and rained and then rained some more. Streets often flood, crops tend to rot in the field, and the sun rarely shines. This year, the dark skies threaten, then cut loose with torrents of rain. 
I thought it might be a short term thing. I figured that a few rainy weeks would pass, then we'd dry up like we so often do. But not this time. 

It's been nice not having to drag the hose around the yard, like we usually do. And I've never seen so much green! Is this what it's like in the Pacific NW? 

I've missed the sunshine though, that's for sure. The tomatoes are sulking from lack of sun, and the green pepper plants have given up. The weeds are prolific, as you can guess. 

Because our summers are generally dry, my garden is mostly planted with drought tolerant plants. So far they are accepting the heavy rain with good grace. But I discovered that some of my flowers actually like more water. My tall phlox has never had so many blooms.

And the hydrangeas are just loving it. 

On those rare sunny days, I hustle outside with my camera in hand. On this day, I discovered the red admiral butterflies were having a party at my house. I tried counting them, but as you can imagine, it wasn't easy. There seemed to be about 30 of them, and it was delightful! They were so intent on gathering nectar that I could practically reach out and touch them. 

The red admiral butterflies are fairly common, and have been visiting in droves. But many other butterflies visit me here, much to my delight, along with numerous other pollinators.
Black swallowtail
White spotted sable moth
Viceroy butterfly
Honeybee in flight
As I'm writing this post, yet another storm is building, and heavy rains are imminent. Yes indeed, it is the Summer It Rained. Every summer I wish for more rain, but I guess I'll have to be more specific in the future.