July 25, 2023

We’ve had many rainy days….


In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

=Mark Twain


The past few days, a few weeks actually, have been warm, with highs in the mid-eighties, and humid, making it feel even hotter.  The warmth and humidity have made intermittent thunderstorms wash across our little piece of the planet, complicating our walks a little.  Rain is just water and won’t melt us, but my raincoat (appropriately called un imperméable in French) is very uncomfortable when it gets above about 60℉.  With the humidity, it’s sweltering in there.  So, I try to avoid walking in the rain for any distance, if I can.  I don’t think Waldo likes it much either, especially when it’s raining hard – he adjusts his path so he wanders under bush or tree for shelter.  But I also can’t help but think it cools him off a little.  We’ve been pretty lucky, so far, and able to adjust the time we leave (from the break of dawn to midmorning) to fit our walk into a dry hole between downpours.

By the looks of it, the local flora loves this weather.  I’ve never seen so many huge burdock leaves, large bunches of garlic mustard, fast growing-grass and ten-foot, or more, stands of Japanese knotweed.  Everywhere I look, there are dark green, happy-looking plants.  Sumac, sassafras, elm, black walnut, tree of heaven, maples, oaks, birches, aspens, locust, linden, white pine, cedar – all cast deep shadows on the ground with a prolific suffusion of leaves.  The bushes and weeds next to the trail put up an impenetrable curtain of green, blocking the sight of what lies beyond.  In the wetter places are innumerable ferns, so dense that their pinnate leaves overlap in a moiré pattern, making them seem out of focus.  Along the creeks are skunk cabbages, bigger than heads of lettuce, and ponds all fuzzy with green algal blooms.

Somehow, Massachusetts has largely avoided being suffocated by the smoke of all those wildfires happening in Canada right now.  I would guess it’s due to our proximity to the ocean, which channels storms up our way from the tropics, and wash the skies clean.  Watching the progression of storms on radar, I can clearly see them approaching from the south.  But New York City is also next to the ocean and they have, on occasion, suffered worse than we have, so that can’t be the whole story.  Oh, we’ve had smoke filled days where the unseasonal odor of burning wood is obvious, but the air quality hasn’t been so bad that Waldo and I haven’t been able to safely venture out to our daily sojourns in nature.

Like Waldo and me, other people wander out here, many with their dogs.  We exchange comments about the humidity and our shirts soaking in warm sweat, while the dogs sit patiently by, tongues hanging out and dripping.  But these are not so much grumblings as simple observations about the character of the day, like talking about how the Red Sox are doing.  When you’re in a building, toiling away at your means of sustenance, you don’t often talk about what’s happening with the weather.  But when you’re out here in the midst of whatever nature is throwing your way, it’s natural to talk about it.  And not just the weather.  I pass people who tell me they saw a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead, or to look out for a piliated woodpecker I can hear ratatatting somewhere off in the trees, or point out a rare jack-in-the-pulpit growing alongside the trail, or asking if I saw a red fox crawl from the foliage, then prance down the trail.  When you’re in nature, truly in it and not just passing through, you pay attention to what’s around you and you share your experience with those you pass.  It’s a beauty-shared-holds-twice-the-magic kind of thing.

As for the weather, at least the low temperatures aren’t 76℉ or higher.  When that’s the coolest it’s going to be, it’s real hard to justify spending two-and-a-half hours walking with Waldo.  He’s miserable.  We’re better off staying home and walking around the property more often than customary.  He can go out onto the balcony to survey his dogdom and yell at the squirrels, birds and rabbits, passing down whatever decrees, or recriminations, or whatever it is he’s doing.  He lays down under the air conditioner and cools off a bit from the condensed water dripping onto his back.  When he gets too hot, he can always wander inside and cool off in our climate-controlled apartment before returning to his duties.  He doesn’t burn off as much of his border collie energy and is a little more frenetic than usual, but he doesn’t suffer.

But, when we’re able, it’s so much nicer venturing of into the woods and enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer.

And we do it as often as we can.


…and the plants show it. These are huge burdock leaves.

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