Summer Bounty

My cell phone broke yesterday. I needed to make a phone call (to complain about my broken cell phone) but when I went to the land line it was not functioning either. It never rains but it pours. So I moseyed over to the T-Mobile store (I will jump ship if they merge with ComCast or some other outfit, but for now I still like their excellent customer service).

I decided to step a little further into the 21st century and got a smart phone to replace my flip phone. I did this partly because it’s nice to be able to check email on your phone in a pinch (though I still haven’t figured out how to do that), but mostly so I could take pictures to post on this blog.

We’re now in the throes of summer, and the plants are bursting with color. The butterfly weed BWeedthat I planted last summer is in blazing orange glory, and it’s attracting butterflies like crazy. Mostly monarchs (I’ve never seen so many monarchs as I have this year, and the butterfly weed is right next to the swamp milkweed, which they are massively attracted to) but in the last few days, it’s also been frequented by tiger swallowtail butterflies. And this morning, a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird stopped by to investigate! (No picture of that, I’m sorry to say. So far I’m sticking with plants, which are relatively stationary.)

The swamp milkweed is getting its seedpods, though they aren’t anywhere near opening. I also noticed big pods on the butterfly weed, which I hadn’t noticed before. I will watch these along with the milkweed pods to see what they do.

Chamomile2Attracting slightly smaller animal life are the calendula and chamomile flowers. I’ve been drying chamomile for the last few weeks and hope to have enough to last me through the winter. I’ve also realized that I need to dry some yarrow for the winter months, now that I’m finding so many uses for it (astringent, disinfectant, cold and flu, and it stops bleeding).

Most importantly, the hops are coming in! I use hops primarily as a sleep aid, and several of myhops friends have found them quite useful. Hops are beautiful plants. Just now the flowers (called strobiles) are green. As they mature they will turn golden and papery. They are best harvested when they are all sticky and resiny (before they completely dry out), and they have a most wonderful smell—kind of citrus, but with some other enticing aroma I can’t quite put my finger on.

This is simply the best time of year (you may hear this again in the fall, and then perhaps again in the spring, and you may even hear a variation on it in the winter—I am very fickle that way). And the animals! This morning there was a baby rabbit in the front yard, and yesterday I saw a juvenile Baltimore Oriole in the boulevard tree. My yard has been filled with baby everything: baby squirrels, baby robins, baby cardinals, baby chipmunks, even the baby starlings are fun to watch. (I hope to graduate to animal pictures when I develop a little finesse.)

Cheers to summer!

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