Nature Connection: Savoring Summer

By: Mary Richmond

Mary Richmond Photo

These are the days, my friends, when we feel summer’s end sneaking up on us. The insects are singing, strumming and drumming away as daylight fades. Birds are gathering in flocks to feed and gather strength for long trips ahead. Young mammals are out and about, learning the ropes, and in the ponds, lakes and sea little fish are becoming big and bigger fish.

The hardy yellow blooms of goldenrod are taking over the fields and scrubby areas. The seaside goldenrod, which blooms a little later, is also budding and ready to burst into color. Purple and white asters will soon grace the woods and fields.

Young egrets and herons are in the marshes, as are huge flocks of sandpipers. The latter aren’t always easy to spot as they are well hidden in the tall grasses. You’ll see them rise and fly when disturbed, however.

Young ospreys are doing their best to catch their own fish, often chasing their compatriot when he or she is finally successful. They’re a noisy bunch and it’s not unusual to see siblings flying and fishing together while the parents watch from a nearby perch. It won’t be long before the adults quietly vanish, heading south, leaving the young to mature and find their own way south in a month or so.

For humans, summer on Cape Cod often means more work, less play. It’s the opposite of what our summer visitors get to do. We all share the traffic and the crowds but while local folk gripe about the inconveniences, summer folk simply take them in stride. For many, crowds are part of the fun and traffic is simply a price they must pay to enjoy the rest of what the Cape offers.

I’m more of a hermit than a party girl, but I admit to enjoying the enjoyment our visitors take in our beautiful home. They love the sand and the sea, the birds and the whales, the fried clams and lobster and the slower pace of beach life. Watching families play and laugh is good for the soul, I think. I grew up on these beaches and so did my kids. Now my grandchildren are nearly grown but they swim and sail and play ball in the sand with their friends like the rest of us did. There’s something about salt and sand and windblown days that becomes intertwined with who we are. Maybe the world would be a saner place if everyone got to frolic in the sand and the waves at least once each year.

The gulls that soar, the whales that leap and the beach plums that ripen in the dunes all serve as reminders of how incredibly lucky we are to share this special place.

Of all the seasons, summer is the shortest. Perhaps that is why we look forward to it so much. It is a time of warmth, freedom and light.

If you’ve worked too hard this summer, now is the time to take some time off. Even half a day spent on the beach, whether napping or walking or playing in the surf, can be good for what ails all of us these days. A separation from nature and the world around us is not good for our health, mental or otherwise. And, yes, I’ll be happy to write that doctor’s note if you need one.

A morning walk before breakfast, a visit to the beach to watch the moon rise after dinner, a paddle on your favorite pond or an hour spent daydreaming while watching butterflies and bees buzz about will help you savor the bits of summer that remain.

Gardens are full and trees are bearing fruit and nuts. Abundance reigns wherever we turn. Summer isn’t leaving quite yet. There’s still time to enjoy her many gifts, and happily, they are all free. Don’t wait too long, though. Savor summer while we can. It is a fleeting joy, even with all the inconveniences and annoyances we must bear. Tuck some warm summer memories away to warm you up on those dark, cold nights ahead. Like the swallows, summer will slip away before we know it. Don’t let her leave without enjoying what she has to offer. In the wink of an eye, she’ll have moved on.