February 20, 2019

The Green Leaves of Summer

Rehoboth Ramblings


Isn’t summer beautiful around here? Even when it gets really hot, it’s still so green out there, and the ocean beckons from not too far away. The soft light lingers long into the evening. With all those ripe berries and fruits available, there’s lots of nature’s bounty to tide us over until corn and tomato season in a few weeks.

Dessert this time of year can be just vanilla ice cream with blueberries and strawberries (red, white and blue for the Fourth of July). If ever there was a food that is perfect just as it is, it is just-picked ripe strawberries. You could add a little cream or ice cream, but sugar isn’t necessary, nor is some elaborate pie crust, in my view.

The brief window of opportunity for ripe local strawberries symbolizes what is most poignant about summer -- it is so fleeting. In the words of an old folk song, first they appear and then they’re gone. You could say the same about most flowers that bloom from spring into summer. The daffodils were a couple weeks late, then the lilacs seemed to last about 20 minutes before turning brown. The rhododendrons were especially beautiful this year but now the showy and colorful blossoms are nothing but shriveled brown leaves on non-descript bushes.

I understand that the Japanese cult of the cherry blossom in the spring is based on the idea of appreciating how fleeting the beauties of nature are, causing a feeling of sweet sadness. I’m afraid my complaining “why doesn’t winter snow disappear as quickly as spring blossoms?” is not in the right spirit of the thing. You’re supposed to appreciate the beauty of the moment, not become irate that it will be gone all too soon.

Summer is a feast for all the senses. We enjoy the feel of a gentle summer breeze, the warmth of the sun, and the sound of leaves rustling in the trees, not to mention the sound of the surf at the shore. In our backyards and woods, bird calls fill the air. True, a lot of that is just birds marking their territory, but their arguments are certainly more melodious than human confrontations.

We rest our eyes on the beautiful greenery everywhere, such a relief after so many months of bleak and bare New England landscapes. And thank heavens the gypsy moth caterpillars aren’t so bad this year. July is the peak time for watching fireflies twinkling in the twilight, bringing back happy memories of summer evenings long ago, though we called them lightning bugs back then.

I’m not much of a gardener, but I enjoy growing some herbs in pots on the patio each summer. I call it a modified “Scarborough Fair” mix – parsley, mint, rosemary and thyme (and basil). The scent of flowers is another summer blessing. I can’t get enough of the beach rose (rosa rugosa) and am constantly leaning over bushes to sniff them when I get the chance. Beach rose, honeysuckle, gardenia – there is no manufactured perfume that comes close to these gorgeous scents from Mother Nature.

The only thing wrong with July, besides the occasional heatwave, is the constant noise from neighborhood firecrackers that goes on for weeks. It’s irritating to put up with these midnight explosions and very disruptive for pets, poor things. But some thoughtless people in every community seem not to care in the least about disturbing the peace. This has nothing to do with patriotism so much as the deep-seated desire to blow things up.

I’m not a New England native, but I believe that having lived here for four decades counts for something. Rehoboth is a great place to live in the summer. At the turn of the 20th century, people came out here from nearby cities to get a break and enjoy summer in the country. Now of course, you can get from here to there in 20 minutes or so and many people have air-conditioning anyway, but Rehoboth is a still a beautiful place to enjoy the summer.

The town has a lot more people, houses, and certainly cars now than when we moved here. We dog-walkers are especially aware of this, constantly yanking our pups out of harm’s way as cars zoom by. We kind of miss the days when Pond Street was an unpaved road with few houses on it and find that Summer Street is getting to be more like Rt.118 with its constant traffic. But time marches on; traffic everywhere has become worse and driving more stressful over the decades. Rehoboth has withstood the test of time better than a lot of towns. It’s a nice place to call home.


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