Grains of Summer.
By Bruce Stambaugh
With all of its positive and pleasant attributes, summer makes it hard to be humble.
We all want to get out and take full advantage of the sunny days filled with warmer temperatures and a wide variety of activities. We fling ourselves full force into each day whether it’s for work or for play. We want to drink in every drop of sunshine, warmth, and blue skies, from dawn to dusk.
At the beach.
Toddlers, children, and teens fill the local swimming pools, both public and backyard venues, while adults keep watchful eyes on the less careful youth. Construction workers bask in the fair weather, narrowing four lanes to one with an arsenal of orange barrels.
Lawnmowers hum morning, noon, and evening throughout global neighborhoods. Contractors and excavators work sunup to sundown. Farmers are in their glory, beginning to harvest the fruits of their labor.
In many places, the corn reached far beyond knee-high-by-the-Fourth-of-July standards. In others, stalks stood only inches tall, drowned out by the super wet spring and early summer rains.
Amber waves of grain really did roll in the wind until giant combines gobbled them up or they formed rows of shocks like so many soldiers standing guard in Amish-owned fields.
Summer, however, has other, more drastic ways to get our attention with her weapons. Summer can humble us lowly humans in many ways. Think floods, wildfires, tornadoes, droughts, golf ball-sized hail, record heat and humidity.
No matter our stature or station in life, we all succumb to those prevailing conditions. Summer humbles us.
For those unfamiliar with E.B. White’s beloved children’s classic “Charlotte’s Web,” humility played a major role in the book’s plot and dialogue. The spider Charlotte wove “Humble” into the web that served to save the life of the precocious pig Wilbur. She wanted a word that meant “not proud” as Wilbur’s crowning characteristic.
But humility has a second meaning beyond the social one. Humble implies a willingness to learn, and thankfully summer has much to teach us. The lessons are all around us in a more pleasing, useful, and beautiful form than what disasters wrought.
Vegetable gardens and truck patches team with all sorts of goodies that nurture us. Tasty homegrown sweet corn, luscious red tomatoes, green, red, and yellow peppers, and tangles of zucchini are just a few examples.
Roadside produce stands and supermarkets tempt us with juicy peaches and vine-ripened melons. Generations ago indigenous Americans taught us to plant, tend, and harvest these marvels.
For those non-gardeners among us, we sniff and thump and feel and taste to select the best of the bunch like our parents and grandparents did. The poor fruits and veggies pay the ultimate price.
Please click on the photos to enlarge them.
Does and fawns.
The neighbor’s flowers.
Amber waves of grain.
Flower gardens are peaking with hollyhocks and zinnias and cultivated flowers, too. Leafy hardwoods provide shade and refreshing coolness from the oppressive summer heat for humans and critters alike.
Wildflowers and wildlife, too, show their stuff. Dainty spotted fawns venture out on their own while mom watches from more secluded spaces. Parent bluebirds and house wrens ferry insects, worms, and berries to their youngsters nearly as big as the adult birds.
Families crowd beaches and climb mountains on vacations, exploring new venues or returning to old haunts discovered by previous generations.
Where is humility in all of this? Using the educational definition, it’s merely a reminder of the responsibility of the created to care for the creation. That is about as humbled as we can get.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2018