High Summer

It’s HOT in my part of Wisconsin, mid-to high 80s most days. The cicadas are going almost non-stop. Days like this always remind me of the midsummer chapter in Wind in the Willows, with cicadas being the Midwestern equivalent of the piper at the gates of dawn. Yesterday was productive despite the heat. In the morning I went to the grocery early, then skinned and pitted, chopped and froze the last of the Georgia peaches from a box Miss Becky bought from the Georgia truck the previous week. Fresh peaches on oatmeal, with toasted pecans and a bit of brown sugar… mmmmm.

Tiger lilies are in bloom right now. This one is from a patch that growing along the drive when we moved here. I suspect it's descended from a planting by the first owner in the 1930as

Around eleven, when the house was getting too hot for me but not the rest of the family, I walked up to the air-conditioned library, where I added 500 words–many of them fine words–to the WIP. I would have added more, but the library was a bit over-air-conditioned even for me.

(My husband said he wanted that in writing; we do have central air but vastly different internal thermostats and, just as marriage is a decorating compromise, so is it an HVAC compromise.)

On the way home from the library I took a longer route than usual, partly to get my step count up, mostly because the longer route was more shady than the more direct way. The north side of the street had even more shade than the south, where I usually walk, so that’s the sidewalk I took. I was amazed at how much that one tiny change in perspective brought to my afternoon.

For one thing, I saw gardens and porches and little landscape features I’d never noticed before, including two tiny frog-pond birdbaths about the size of the palm of my hand.

For another, I discovered that the house on the northeast corner has an in-ground swimming pool. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 18 years and had no idea there was an in-ground pool three blocks away! The only reason I found it yesterday was that I was glancing through the hedge at a garden undergoing renewal, and noticed movement behind a knee-high white wall–two women whose heads were just visible over the wall, one of them carrying a toddler who was wearing water wings.

In the evening, after the air had “cooled” to 79º, I deadheaded some plants that needed it and pulled a bucketful of purslane, crabgrass, and some other flat weed whose name I keep forgetting. The part of the driveway I can see from the kitchen window is pretty well cared for, but the part I see only when I’m in the car on my way to somewhere else is a bit weedy up close (although you can’t see it from the street for all the hollyhocks).

I’d neglected to apply DEET, so I’d work on one section until the mosquitoes found me, then move about 20 feet down the drive and weed there for a while. Weed and repeat.

After about half an hour of this up-and-down, my eyes started stinging from the perspiration rolling down my forehead, and I gave up. I clipped on my step counter and went for a walk–which was more of an amble–to try to get the step-count up the 3-mile mark. Mosquitoes usually don’t bother me when I’m on the move, so it was pleasant and quiet; too late for the kids to be out, too early for the just-before-bed dog walksers. I reached my goal after three circuits around the block and a couple of passes of the house up the street that has a very pleasant fountain in the front yard.

And then I came inside to a house that actually seemed cool even though the air conditioning had mysteriously kicked off about two minutes after I’d gone outside to weed.

© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

This entry was posted in Notes from the Neighborhood, Seasonal and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to High Summer

  1. We’re hot here, too, in my part of Connecticut. And humid. And rain skirts all around us. And it seems like it’s been months since there was a touch of cool air. I keep telling my students that I could do with a few inches of snow about now. (I really could.) And I’m hoping if I say it often enough it will happen.

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    • Anne Bingham says:

      I hear you, Andrea (and in your attic it must be near the combustion point!) According to one of the local TV station’s online Doppler, we ought to be getting a shower any minute now but neither WeatherBug, nor Intellicast, nor a look outside the window show anything but blue skies and occasional fluffy white clouds. There’s a lot of commercial development starting two miles west of us, which I have long suspected sends up a column of hot air that deflects weak showers, sort of an invisible mountain range. The good news is that it tends to deflect tornadoes, too.

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  2. Mmmmm, my mouth watered reading about “them Georgia peaches.”

    It’s hot here in Texas and the cicadas are joining yours in that high pitched whine. I went outside a few minutes ago to water the potted plants and some impatiens. Even in the shade, the impaitiens had wilted. It’s the humidity that makes everything bake even hotter this year. What’s August going to be like?

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    • Anne Bingham says:

      August here will be like July, but with more yellow jackets. At least this year they’re not in the compost bin!

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  3. Susan says:

    Love your reference to Wind in the Willows, and the Tiger Lily is lovely. It’s hot, hot, hot down here in S. Texas too . . . and humid . . . and mosquito infested. I’ve actually never seen the mosquitos so bad. That’s the down side of coming out of a drought!

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    • Anne Bingham says:

      Our mosquitoes haven’t been too bad, considering all the rain we had in June; there have been years when clouds of them would attack when I’d open the door. My theory is that the weeks of rain on alternate days flooded the larvae out of the places where they were hatching. Maybe Tim from the UP will weigh in on that (except we have hardy perennial northern Zone 3 and 4 mosquitoes up here, not those wimpy Zone 5 and 6 that can’t take Wisconsin winters. Oh, wait. I’m thinking roses…)

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