Is summer really coming to an end?

Just at twilight, the doe and her fawn tiptoe up the back fence line, their ears alert to any move I might make as I watch from the back barn door. I’d left Winnie in the house and was glad I had, or she would have ruined the pastoral picture.

This must have been a very late fawn, as even without binoculars I can see spots, and it is a frisky youngster, kicking up its heels and flagging its white tail. I wait while they amble the length of the tree-lined fence row, stopping to graze and making sure the coast is clear before disappearing.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably munching on french fries or a sausage sandwich as you ply the food-laden land of the Canfield Fair, which opened Sept. 1 and runs through a late Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer.

Impossible

The fair can’t possibly be open yet — my calendar still says August — but there are other signs too that the calendar and I might be confused.

Not once have I heard a locust, and locusts always drone in late summer. At dusk, and later, fireflies still blink in the maple trees — not as many as in warmer nights — but they’re still with us.

Crickets sing — what happened to the peepers? — and bees enjoy the Rose of Sharon blossoms of many hues. Somehow, the side yard has disappeared behind their invading hedge, which has even swallowed the honeysuckle.

A big daddy-longlegs hangs on the door screen and thanks to my horde of barn swallows — which have yet to leave — there are no bugs in the barn.

This morning there were 12 “stacked” in the snag I leave standing for them outside the back barn door, and there was much discussion, probably about soon departing to the south, even as far as Cuba and the Honduras.

One wonder if the infamous oil spill will interfere with their migration routes, which include the Gulf states.

Bird returns

The only exciting bird news here — we have mostly sparrows, grackles, cardinals and many other “regulars” — was the reappearance of the bluebird.

I’d heard this strange robin-like call all summer, and was delighted to learn it was the bluebird, which had been here in the spring and apparently had stayed even though not seen.

My nephew, Joey Mick, and his wife, Marilyn, from Natick, Mass., spent five days with me even thought they didn’t stay at my house — that would have been too hard on all of us!

Neither Winnie nor I nor Bingo are accustomed to having non-stop conversation all day, and as much as it was great to have then here, we were all — I’m sure Joey and Marilyn too — ready to rest our vocal cords at the end of each day.

Reunion

Winnie had her very own company earlier this month. Cindy Riggans, of Canton, the angel who parted with her Winnie three years ago to mend my broken heart, was at the dog show, of course, and brought Winnie’s daughter, Faith, and granddaughter, Molly, to visit!

Friends with her brought two big gorgeous males, and you never saw such fun as all these Dalmatians raced together through the barn. Winnie — she actually flirted with “Hogan” — pretty much kept up with them, but finally sent to the kitchen door, begging to be let in, and promptly plopped on the bed. She is, after all, 10 years old.

* * *

Wondering about those little yellow flowers appearing in almost everyone’s lawn, I asked my naturalist friend, Randy Jones, if he could identify them. He did: they are “cat’s ears,” an alien species that came from who knows where. Now you know!

* * *

Remind me to tell you about Bingo’s week on safari — in the house.

* * *

I may or may not see you at the fair this year. Some very frustrating health problems are kind of grounding me for the moment. We shall see …

* * *

“My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am …” — Unknown

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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