The Solstice is coming up. It’s one of the holidays that tends to demand my attention…I feel weird and restless, and have to go look at the moon more. I don’t have a lot of elaborate symbolic associations with it. I just feel more feral.
The flowery riot of spring has deepened and grown more rich. Spring peepers are long gone but bullfrogs, gray tree frogs, toads, banjo frogs, and green tree frogs sing the song of love all summer long. Wild bird chicks are fledged and out of the nest, trying out their wings and flapping about haphazardly. Blackberries ripen on the bramble. The sky flickers with the fire of frequent summer storms accompanied by torrential downpours, while the woods edge flickers with an answering sparkle of lightning bugs. In Georgia, the heat of summer is ferocious and oppressive, sweat rolls down your back and you are never quite comfortable indoors or out. I am disinclined to go outside after noon if I can help it, at least until the sun goes down. This is the time of the sun’s power…and that power makes the land fertile.
My garden is so lush that if I’m neglectful the weeds will choke my vegetables; my cool-weather cabbage, peas and lettuce are starting to wilt, but my okra, squash, tomatoes and peppers are springing up to take their places. In other gardens than mine, the peaches are ripe and the watermelons are coming in; it’s the time of year when, even in the urban concrete of Atlanta, you can still run across an enterprising young woman selling melons from the back of a pickup truck and buy one after rapping every striped green belly you can reach with your knuckles, to listen for the hollow thump that means it’s ripe and sweet. You can drive out of the city in nearly any direction and find an old man in a John Deere hat selling peaches in a paper sack. You can brave the brambles and pick as many blackberries as you can eat, free by the side of the road, if you know where to look. The sun bears down on us all; the sun gives us bounty and fleeting sweetness along with the prickles and the sweat.
The glare of the daytime is so bright that I shield my eyes and rely on my other senses more. I feel tired and cranky in the heat, but the cool at night wakes me up again and the songs of frogs and hooting owls call me out to listen. The sky is hazy but I can see Jupiter and Venus shining clear. The taste of summer is on my tongue.