Summer Dreams

My adopted home is a baseball town. Some years that’s spelled

BASEBALL!!!

Sorry. Didn’t mean to shout. It’s one of those habits a person picks up after several years in a place.

Every town and city needs a little local, civic pride. And it’s not a bad thing to have it associated with a sports team. Pick a sport you’re fond of. Follow the team in the media. And if possible — attend a game in person.

Where else can you shout, jump, and yell in public without drawing the attention of the police? So much the better if the home team wins.

I knew these silent athletes existed. I’d walked past them more than once on my excursions to downtown St. Louis. I have no excuse for not taking their photo on prior occasions.

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Not one. Not two. An entire team of Hall of Fame players welcome you to the game.

First Wheels

Children like to GO!

It seems like one day they take their first unaided steps and the next they run across the room faster than the parent.

And then our culture adds wheels.

It may be a toy with four sturdy plastic wheels that the child scoots around the house or down the sidewalk. The first ones I remember were three. Yes, three as in a red tricycle. The next generation modified the concept and called it Big Wheel. And most of us graduated to a bicycle along the way – with or without training wheels for a short time.

But in the community I called home — a few lucky kids got a pedal version of Daddy’s favorite vehicle.

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Named for a Tool

A majority of American women have used them in the home.

Nearly every science student has used one in the laboratory.

The shape is functional and the name is simple description. However, not all bottlebrushes are created equal.

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Consider this lovely specimen of Bottlebrush Buckeye. Each flower is the correct size and shape to clean a baby bottle or graduated cylinder.

I’m not going to try it. Too soft. Too many petals/bristles left behind in the bottom of the container.

Instead I’m going to admire, photograph, and wish the honeybees good harvest.

 

First Blush

Summer is the growing season. Long warm/hot days and mild nights.  Add a dose of rain or two followed by a sunny day and plants stretch toward the sky, direct energy to their fruit, and release the enzymes to ripen.

Not all at once. And a gardener needs to pay attention to see the day to day changes. Just go away for a few days. What do you return to?

A jungle of weeds competing with your vegetables? Large, hard beans? Carrots and beets pushing out of the ground? Cucumbers too large and hollow to pickle? Tomatoes red, ripe, and falling off the vine?

These fine fruits were captured by my camera during the first, blushing days of maturity. They looked different – dense and pure green – a few days ago. Now the promise of sweet and ripe is evident.

100_3194_00 Patience please.

I’m still dressing in my red robes.

Reminds me of…

Red purple blossoms. Bright globes of color.

At first glance I thought of a field – red clover – a hay crop primarily replaced by alfalfa during my lifetime.

A second glance returned reality. The leaves are all wrong. This is not a forage crop for livestock. Instead it would be a great addition to a flower garden. Imagine it contrasting with a white fence or trellis. Attracting bees to pollinate this and the neighboring plants. Accent it with a row of low growing annuals along a sidewalk.

Globe amaranth

Globe amaranth

Ready for the Sun

Summer days. Long hours of sunshine. The higher your latitude, the longer the daylight.

A little sunshine lifts a person’s spirits. Makes it easier to be cheerful. Encourages outdoor activities of either the physical or social variety. After all, daylight after the work day increases the likelihood of certain things: An evening walk in the neighborhood – with or without dog. A casual conversation with a neighbor. Greetings between strangers at a patio restaurant.

Other summer items often bring smiles too. And some do not even involve humans – except to admire, smile, sniff, and touch.

100_3842Proud to be a sun lover.

A Touch of Formality

Americans tend to dress for comfort. It appears to be a trend which accelerated with the “Baby Boomers”. Women shed gloves and hats for all but the most formal of occasions. Men added colors and patterns to their shirts. And almost everyone wears sneakers and sandals instead of Oxfords and heels.

A few styles never change. Black and white, for example, are two colors which are acceptable for almost every event.

Take these two creatures, for example. Basic color scheme. Last minute adjustment of a wayward feather — and they’re set to welcome you to the most elegant of seafood restaurants.

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Breakfast is Served

The most important meal of the day.

Start the day with high quality protein plus some carbs to keep you mentally and physically sharp for hours.

I’m sure you’ve heard it. Perhaps you’ve said it. Advertising wants you to include a specific product. Teachers want the students to be satisfied and fortified enough to concentrate on their studies – instead of listening to their stomachs ask about lunch.

Solitary or social – the first meal of the day can be either. And while in the United States we associate it with specific foods – cereals, yogurt, eggs, ham, grits, potatoes — other cultures and regions of the world vary. The result is the same — a little energy to replenish from the long fast during the night.

These two creatures are eating in quiet companionship. What’s on their menu?

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Eating properly to maintain our feather color.

1900’s Fitness Plan

It’s relatively easy these days to find articles that speak fondly of the past. When life was slower. When all the current stresses of today were not a constant concern.

Perhaps we need a reminder once in a while that progress has some positive results. Take for example, the lunch hour of a businessman.

Do you long for the days when the shop door would be locked and the proprietor could go home for a home cooked meal? It does sound lovely — in contrast to the often hurried brown bag or take out fast food lunch gulped while at the desk. But is it true?

If you “lived above the shop” it was a short walk. And if your wife or older children were quick with the routine chores — wood or coal for the stove, washing, ironing, cleaning, emptying chamber pots — they could give free labor at the business.

Not everyone had such a short commute. Consider this view in Galena, IL. You got to walk one, two, or even three sets of steps like this four times a day – down in the morning, uphill for lunch, back down the hill for afternoon business, and a slow climb at the end of the day. And think about winter — those first and last trips would have been in the dark. Possible snow and ice. No gym membership required for aerobic exercise!

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When We Grow Up

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s a common question for one human to ask another, especially a child.

But what about other things. What does the puppy want to be? A search and rescue worker? A family pet?

What about a fruit? Do they want to be in a shortcake? A pie? A lunchbox?

I look at this little grouping of pears and wonder how many of them will make it to ripe? What will be their fate? I’m thinking a nice salad in the botanical garden restaurant would be a good place to end.

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Have you another idea?