After Fourth of July, summer flies by

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Once the Fourth of July is history, the rest of the summer seems to break all speed records in racing toward the end of the year.

Just last week, someone had the temerity to remind me that six months from that day would be Christmas! I did not thank her for that information.

But in this bi-polar summer, the jug of ice tea languishes in the refrigerator untouched while hot cocoa is comforting.

Furnace repairman

To take the dampness and chill off the house, I turned the thermostat up slightly. Nothing happened. Up a little more. Still nothing happened. Imagine having to call the furnace repairman at the end of June.

I did, though, and am grateful for such good service from my longtime friend, Kenneth Pavlik — no relation to you know who — who brags that I was his very first customer when he began his own business a thousand years ago.

Anyhow, the house is comfortable — and by the time you read this, we’ll no doubt be in the throes of a heat wave.

We did have a few days that felt more appropriate for the season, and I resisted turning on the air conditioner.

Joe and Marilyn, my nephew and his wife, were here and basked in the heat. In the Boston area, where they live, June was the “darkest” month on record. Where is Al Gore when we need him?

Pasture mowed

The pasture has finally been mowed, but it had reached such extreme heights from all the rain, that when the wind blew all I could think of was the old cowboy ditty, “Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie, where the coyotes howl and the wind blows free…”

It looked so prairie-like I almost hated to have it cut, but Apache and Toby would not graze in such deep grass where all the bugs lurked.

I can see the pond now and in the evening I hear the bullfrogs’ serenade, which reminds me of olden days (as my sister was wont to call our childhood!) when I would collect frog eggs from the creek, keep them in a fish bowl and eagerly await their hatching and growing and the gradual appearance of tiny legs.

Not until the pollywogs — tadpoles — metamorphosed into froglets were they released back into the creek.

I wonder if today’s children would be at all interested in something that wasn’t technology and I feel sorry for them if they’d missed this kind of untechnical but truly miraculous experience.

* * *

Fireflies

While Joe and Marilyn were here, we tried to still be awake — dozing together in front of the television is such an easy way to entertain guests! — in late evening so we could watch the pasture become a firefly-lighted city.

The fireflies loved the high growth and I wonder now what they’ll do with it gone. The other night I stood at the back gate to watch someone’s noisy fireworks to the north, and I actually enjoyed the fireflies’ performance more!

Joe and Marilyn adore Winnie and vice versa, and they had also loved my darling cat, Lisa, whom I lost in February. I warned them that Bingo, my new kitty, was terribly shy with strangers and that they might never even see her.

Leave it to an animal to make you a liar. Bingo appeared that very first afternoon, gave them the once-over, decided she had new friends, and all through their visit she expressed her approval by throwing herself down in front of them, rolling onto her back and being generally mushy.

* * *

Sad state of affairs

What a sad state of affairs when out-of-town guests are aghast at the helter-skelter and ugly wall-to-wall development of the area they are visiting.

My relatives couldn’t get over how everything here is jammed together with no planning, no attempt for beautification, no effort to adhere to a particular architectural design, plus more.

I was truly embarrassed that my township bears the unflattering designation of “Boardmanized,” but I was also proud that they appreciated my efforts to keep my own acreage quiet and peaceful despite the encroaching surroundings.

And they couldn’t believe the plethora of fast-food places tucked into anywhere they’d almost fit!

Incidentally, I have checked with the zoning office about another huge building under construction nearby, and I learned it is another doctor’s office. We are becoming a medical community and I read recently that perhaps another hospital is planned for this area. I repeat: I am glad I’m so old!

Flowers?

Between the rain and cold, the so-called spring, the ridiculous summer and my ridiculous AR — age related — twinges, mine are a disgrace. And a rabbit or two or a dozen with cravings for larkspur have effectively nipped off any possible blossom.

Nasturtium seeds I planted on Memorial Day took three weeks to put up leaves and even they are puny. Not all the seeds germinated either. (If this is all I have to complain about, shame on me for even complaining!)

The year of 1816 was “the year without a summer.” Is 2009 trying to compete? I have not yet put my grandfather’s snow shovel away, just in case.

* * *

Birds?

Now that the spring migration has passed, there are not many exciting birds at the feeders, although I did see a gorgeous Baltimore oriole in the mulberry tree.

At the window feeder daily is the scruffy little one-legged chickadee — I’ve named her Peggy — and still showing off with his hovering act at the suet is the same male cardinal.

But the barn swallows are getting almost too proprietary and when Winnie and I or anyone goes into “their” barn, they object noisily with much whirling and diving.

It is impossible to count them and I don’t really like their decorating scheme!

* * *

Ann Landers said, “Too many people today know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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