July Almanac 2021
By Ashley Wahl
July spills her secrets to the night.
At twilight, as the earth exhales the sun’s hot kiss, the parish of crickets chants glory to the rising moon and a softness spills across the landscape.
In the garden, a luminous sea of moonflowers opens beneath the glittering heavens. Fragrant blossoms resemble tiny white horns — silent galaxies transmitting sweetness from the darkness to the great abyss.
A night bird calls out from the shadows.
Does he sing his own name — whip-poor-will — or does he sing of the muse?
Hard to tell.
As constellations of fireflies rise from the tall grass, cicadas blurt out their shameless confessions. It seems that each moment is a dance between sound and light, and as moths orbit lamp posts like tiny winged planets, five deep, guttural bellows resound.
A bullfrog moans from an unseen pond. It’s not a siren song, per se — more like a trembling cellist exploring a single string — but enchanting, nonetheless.
Might it draw you to the water? Will you run your fingers along the pond’s silky surface, dip your toes into its coolness, hum a sonorous tune of your own?
Only the night will know for sure.
The garden is churning out summer squash and snap beans. Beefsteaks and Brandywines grow plump and heavy. And yet, everywhere you turn, edible treasures spill forth.
Blackberry patches at the edge of the woods.
Wineberries along favorite trails.
Mushrooms galore — boletes, leatherbacks, chanterelles and, if you’re lucky, chicken of the woods.
Red clover and dandelion, daylilies and chickweed, chicory and burdock roots.
Yet at the height of this summer abundance, don’t forget: Now’s time to sow seeds for the autumn harvest.
delicious though invasive. So, if you are wondering what to do with your daily harvest (besides eat them by the handful or tuck them into your favorite cobbler), consider using them for a cool, summer treat.
Got lemon balm? A friend passed along this simple recipe:
Wineberry & Lemon Balm Sorbet
3 cups fresh-picked wineberries (rinsed and drained)
1/4 cup sugar
1 handful lemon balm leaves (rinsed and dried)
1/4 cup water
Additional ice water
Line wineberries on a cookie sheet to put in freezer.
While berries are freezing, make simple syrup by stirring water, sugar and lemon balm in saucepan over medium heat. Once mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat and allow syrup to cool completely before straining out the leaves. Put syrup in a covered container; refrigerate.
Once berries are frozen, combine them with cold syrup in blender with a few teaspoons of ice water. Blend until smooth, adding more ice water if needed.
Mosquito is out,
it’s the end of the day;
she’s humming and hunting
her evening away.
Who knows why such hunger
arrives on such wings
at sundown? I guess
it’s the nature of things.
—N. M. Bodecker,
Midsummer Night Itch