June 14, 2022

Things are still in the early morning…


Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.

-Al Bernstein


The forecast is for highs in the mid-nineties, so Waldo and I rise at 4:30 AM.  It’s still dark out as I crawl out of bed, but it morphs into predawn twilight as I get dressed.  Sunrise isn’t until 5:30, but it’s quite light out as we start our daily trek at 5 AM.  Once the sun is up, the shadows are long and the light has a golden hue that gives the landscape a magical, almost surreal, appearance.  I would not be surprised to see fairies flitting about in the weeds.

The temp is in the mid-sixties and a slight breeze blows over my exposed skin, giving the morning a cool, but not chilly, ambiance.  The trees, all now in full summer plumage, shimmy in the air and make shadows dance on the ground.  The Japanese knotweed now stands eight feet tall and dominates the land where it grows.  Common reeds too stand a couple of feet high in the drainage ditches alongside the trail.  Southern Indian azaleas, wild daffodil, ground ivy, lesser celandine and common blue violet are abloom with a riot of color.  Everything live has awakened and the summer solstice, marking the beginning of summer, is only a few weeks away.  With temperatures as high as they are in mid-May, I can’t help but feel high-summer is going to be a scorcher.

Having temperatures this high so early in the season does a number on Waldo.  He’s still sporting his heavy winter coat.  He’s shedding, but not yet that much.  I know, I know, most animals, including dogs, temperature regulate by panting.  Their furry coats actually help keep the direct sun off their skin and keeps it from warming the skin directly.  But, still, having a lighter coat must allow the air to circulate next to their skin and aid in cooling by conduction and convection, even if they can’t benefit from the evaporation of sweat.  Otherwise, why would they shed when it gets hot?  Waldo, this time of year spends more time looking for shade, as we trek along, than he does later in the year, in the same temperatures, when he has a thinner coat.  Also, he will turn and give me a “Water!   Water!” look earlier on.

The foliage seems to appreciate the higher temperatures.  The world is verdant and blooms are full and hearty.  In drier climes where I’ve been, things would have withered and browned.  But in New England, where we have plenty of humidity and rainfall, the sun provides better insolation, which means more food for photosynthesis, and doesn’t dry things out.  Out west, things would be all yellow and tan, wilting and drooping in the sweltering heat, but here even the grass, which is never artificially watered, stays lush and green.  I’m sweating, soaking my shirt with stale body odor.  On a hot day in the dry air out west, my clothes and skin wouldn’t get wet at all.  Instead, I would be growing a gritty, salty crust all over me, the sweat evaporating as fast as it’s formed.  Once home, I would feel like I’d taken a prolonged dip in the Great Salt Lake, instead of returning from a walk in the woods.

I remember living in Albany, New York, one summer.  It was so humid that you never felt like you didn’t need a shower.  All you had to do is leave the air-conditioned comfort of your home, cross the street, and your clothes were soaked.  It was so humid, I don’t think my sweat evaporated at all.  It just grew into pools and rivulets that ran off onto whatever was nearby.  Even writing was hard because the sweat would drip onto and emulsify the paper, making it impossible to move a pen around without tearing holes in it.  Of course, that was a while ago, before computers replaced pen and paper.

I don’t say all this in complaint.  It’s just another experience that life has to offer.  And it does provide me the opportunity for the exquisite pleasure of sudden relief as I step into my air-conditioned home.  It may be a bit wussy, but man, it feels good to sit down in my recliner and cool off in the AC with a cold drink in my hand.  Even Waldo appreciates the AC.  He’ll come in and flop over onto the bare floor, tongue extended, panting heavily.  Then, after an hour or so, he fully recovers and he’s back outside, romping around in the heat.

For a little while.


…and sometimes a little wet.

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