Summer reached into the hollers, the hillsides and the highlands of Northeast Tennessee last week with thermometer readings pushing into the mid-90s.
After spending 16 years in Texas, I hardly notice what passes for a heat wave here. My morning walk generates a tad more perspiration than was the case a few weeks back; my truck turns into a sauna after a few hours in the sun, and my tomato and pepper plants want a little more watering.
But it’s summer, time for warm weather and all that comes with it. The farmer who tends the meadow behind our house just made his first cutting of hay, a little late with rain delays. Seemed to be a good cutting, though, thanks to ample spring moisture.
Spring-born calves in the pasture adjoining that meadow show significant weight gain. Birds have nested, fledged and nested again. Keeping bird feeders filled seems an impossible task.
Those tomato plants yielded the makings of an excellent Sunday evening sandwich supper, and the jalapeno pepper produced enough heat to send me searching for a cold glass of milk.
I cut the first watermelon of the summer Saturday, bought from a roadside stand, along with the best cantaloupe we’ve eaten in at least a year. Fresh South Carolina peaches, purchased from the same location, provided a special garnish to my morning cereal and served as an excellent dessert with a hearty helping of whipped cream.
I checked the blackberry bushes on the far edge of the hay meadow behind the house. A few ripe ones, about the size of sweet peas, tasted tart. Vines held few berries, hardly enough to justify standing in chigger-infested weeds to pick. I brought a few home — chiggers, not berries. I’ll visit the farmers’ market later to get enough for a pie — berries not chiggers.
This year, we enjoyed a spectacular July 4 fireworks display, sitting comfortably in a friend’s yard, close enough to the mall for a magnificent view but far enough away to avoid the traffic.
We’ve spent some time in the community pool, appreciating our youngest grandson’s joy of learning to swim. We had a campfire one night, chased fireflies and made smores. He prefers just to eat the chocolate.
I spent an hour or two on a small creek trying to coax wily trout into eating a bunch of feathers and thread. They were not impressed. I was. The stream was beautiful, running clear and cold, bubbling and gurgling over rocks, pooling in low spots. Gentle breezes ruffled the trees shrouding the stream.
I dispatched a nest of yellow jackets under the deck. I’ve swatted mosquitoes, scratched where they bit and vowed to use repellant next time I’m outside.
I’ll take in a minor league baseball game soon. It’s summer. Living is easy.