By Bobbi Rightmyer
The dog days of summer have finally hit home and the heat and humidity that Kentucky is famous for is blazing forth in all her glory. Temperatures above 90 degrees, weeks and weeks without rain, and the sticky air that threatens for strangle the life from every living thing. I do not like heat. Just the least bit of heat is enough to raise my internal temperature to the boiling point. I like to be cool, or at least have some type of breeze to keep me comfortable. These days, I fell like someone is trying to smother me with a hot towel; my breath comes in labored gasps.
The hot, dry weather has turned most grass lawns brown and crinkly, but it will quickly revive itself when the first rains come. I really hate to see people watering their lawns in the summer, wasting the one natural resource we are destined to lose in the next century. I do keep my tomato plants and a few flowers watered, but I use “gray” water to do this instead of fresh water from the tap or faucet.
Right now I have loads of English plantain flowers that I have been picking to dry for filling the bird feeders this winter. I have also been using the plantain leaves and flowers in my plantain salve – this is great for misquotes bits and for burnt fingers from cooking. It also helps to sooth and heals sunburns. I have continued cutting and drying several different grasses to add to the bird feeders in a determination to see which type of grass my birds like better, plus. The sunflowers have been slow to start due to the heat, and I may have to use grasses in my bird feeders this winter.
The Queen Anne’s lace and chicory blossoms are so beautiful growing along the side of the roads and in the medians, so I’m trying to enjoy them before the county comes to mow. To me, there is noting more beautiful than the white lacy flowers of Queen Anne’s Laces hover above the delicate blooms of the purple chicory. They are like God’s gift to our little section of the world.
Summer is a time for easy to cook meals or for firing up the backyard grill in order to keep the kitchen cool. You can through almost anything on a grill to make it taste better. Some of my favorites are corn on the cob, grilled while still in the husk; zucchini and other squashes; onions and peppers; as well as any type of meat you might enjoy. Chicken and fish are our two favorite meats to cook on a grill.
Currently, the Farmer’s Market is full of many types of healthy lettuces along with all the vegetables you need to make a wonderful salad. Romaine, Bibb, Watercress, kale, spinach, and even dandelion leaves—these all make wonderful salad starters. Just add onions, carrots, tomatoes, squash, cucumber—whatever you have growing, or quick on hand—and sprinkle with your favorite dressing and you have the perfect “house” salad. Add that half piece of leftover chicken, or extra strip of bacon, or can of tuna or salmon and you turn the house salad into the main entrée; and it is so healthy for you.
One of my favorite pastimes is watching a pair of Red-tailed Hawks soaring over the fields near our home. They apparently live in an old tree near the back of our property because we can occasionally here baby birds crying from the next. Red-tailed Hawks are beautiful birds to watch as they float high above the trees, gliding gracefully through the air.
Mammals make up the majority of the Hawks diet, including voles, rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels and snakes. Many times you can see a mouse or a snake grasped firmly in their razor sharp talons, helping to keep down the varmint population. They will also eat other birds: starlings, blackbirds, bobwhites and pheasants. Personally, they can have all the starlings they want.
I guess the reason I’m rambling on about the dog days of summer is because I’m trying to keep my mind off the fact my baby will be leaving me at the end of the month. Christine will be moving to Berea the last full week of August and I’m trying – without success – not to think about it. I realize she will only be less than 90 minutes away, but with very few exceptions, we have never been apart for so long. Granted, she will be coming home some weekends, but I am going to miss our daily talks and all the sarcastic remarks she makes to me – only in jest. My grandbabies and great niece will help to fill the void, but it won’t take the place of seeing Christine’s smiling face every day.
So, get outside and enjoy the dog days of summer. Relish the bright sunshine and beautiful flowers all around you, chase a few lightning bugs and spray each one with a water hose. The days are already beginning to slow down and night is creeping earlier and earlier into our days. Old man winter will soon be knocking at our doors.