Sunday Brunch, Or, One Thousand Shades of Green

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I took Sunday brunch in the garden today, feasting on the sounds, smells, and beautiful sights the garden offers on this mid-summer’s Sunday.


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It is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.  In Williamsburg, our sun rose today at 5:47 AM and will set at 8:30 PM for an astronomical day length of 14 hours and 44 minutes.


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Interestingly, our period of the summer solstice began on June 17 this year when the sun rose at 5:46 AM and set at 8:30 PM.  Our days will remain this exact length until June 24.  The sun will rise a single minute later on June 25, at 5:48 AM.  The sun will continue to set at 8:31 until July 6, when it will finally set a single minute earlier at 8:30 PM.   By then, the sun won’t rise above the horizon until 5:53 AM, a full six minutes later than today.


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The sun is felt, even after it has dipped below the horizon.  It stays light now for more than an hour past the moment of ‘sun-set,’ and it stays hot from dusk to dawn.


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We had violent thunderstorms move through Virginia again last night, feeding off the muggy heat which envelops us.  We were among the fortunate who kept our power and our trees as the storm passed.


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And this morning dawned rain soaked, hot and bright.  Opening the slider to the deck, I inhaled the greenness in the morning air.

Our cat slipped past my ankles to drink the fresh rain water collected in his dish overnight.  He lingered a little while to listen to the birds chattering from their hiding places in the overhanging trees.


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But he lingered only a little while.  He was ready to slip back inside to the shade and cool of our house when my partner appeared at the door.  Wise old cat, he knows this heat can be deadly.


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He was asleep behind a chair when I suited up and headed out to the garden an hour later.  Camera in hand, I went only to appreciate and record the morning’s beauty.


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But you know the truth of good intentions.  Before long I was deadheading something here, pulling a weed there, and finally succumbed to the lure of the herbs we picked up on Friday morning still waiting in their tiny nursery pots.


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I was in the lowest, sunniest part of the garden planting a Basil when my partner’s voice reached me.  He was back out on the deck, searching for a glimpse of me in the green forest below.


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His voice broke the spell the garden had woven around me. 

He reminded me of the heat, and called me back inside.  It was only then that it registered that my clothes were soaked with perspiration and I was exposed to the fullness of the still rising sun.


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We lost a friend this past week.  We lost one of the kindest, gentlest, most loving people in our circle of friends.

Long retired, he was a tireless volunteer in our community; a gardener, caretaker for stray cats; devoted husband, father, and grandfather.  Our friend was out walking in this relentless heat mid-week, and collapsed.

He was doing what he loved, out of doors, and left us all peacefully and swiftly.


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The news reached us yesterday morning.  As much as we will miss him, we are so grateful that he left us all on his own terms, and was active until then end.  May it be so for each of us.


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And yet his passing in this way is a stark reminder to all of us. 

We must respect this extreme weather, and remain cautious in the face of the heat and sun.  Our children, our pets, our elderly and even ourselves need a little extra consideration during this hottest part of the year, in the northern hemisphere.


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The sun burns, and burns quickly.  The heat overpowers our body’s cooling systems.  The heavy, humid air makes it that much harder to breathe.


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I will not pretend to understand climate change; but I can see the signs that our climate is changing, rapidly.  And so we must change and adapt.  We must shift our behaviors to survive.


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Our friend’s passing was only the latest in a string of untimely loss this week.  I won’t rehearse the litany of loss; I trust you’ve been watching the news, too.

But the common denominator in all of these heart wrenching stories boils down to this:  People going about their business, doing what they have always done, were caught in extraordinary circumstances.


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There is a a message here for each of us.  Perhaps it is no longer, “Business as usual.”   Perhaps we all need to be more mindful of our changing environment and plan for the unexpected to touch our lives.


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It is summer in Virginia.  Our theme parks and beaches are full of tourists.  There are festivals every weekend, and holiday traffic fills our roads.


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And our garden is full of fragrance, color and sound.  Something new blooms each day.  Blackberries ripen, bees buzz from flower to flower and the herbs release their perfume to the caress of the sun.


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Everything is growing so fast.  A thousand shades of green filled our garden this morning. 


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Most people, when asked, will tell you how much they love the summer; and will give you a long list of things they love to do in these few sweet weeks from June through August.

May this summer be filled with joy for you and yours. 


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And please, remain mindful of a few simple things you can do to keep yourself and loved ones safe and healthy during this special season:

1.  Stay hydrated, and always carry water with you for everyone in your party when traveling.

2.  Keep your head and skin covered when outside.

3.  Wear sunscreen, routinely, to protect yourself even further from the sun’s rays.

4.  Stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day.  Seek the refuge of shade.

5.  Pace yourself.  Don’t overexert when it is hot and muggy.


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6.  Watch the weather forecast, several times a day, and plan accordingly.  Stay off the roads when heavy rains and are expected.

7.  Keep pets indoors when it is hot, and keep fresh water available.

8.  Never leave a child, a pet, or a companion waiting outside in a car during the heat of the day.

9.  Remember that our environment is rapidly changing. Expect the unexpected.  Remain alert to these changing conditions, and prepare in advance to survive potential hazards and extreme weather events.

10.  Balance pleasure with vigilance.  Enjoy the fruits of summer and all of the special experiences it brings.  But do so smartly and cautiously, so all survive to enjoy many more summers to come.


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Woodland Gnome 2015


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With fond remembrance of our treasured friend,

Lt. Col. Alden George Hannum.

May his memory always bring  joy to those who loved him.

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

25 responses to “Sunday Brunch, Or, One Thousand Shades of Green

  1. Yes! “plan for the unexpected” but also broadcast concerns for global climate change and effect changes, where you can.

    • Rickii, we just saw the weather forecast for Portland OR. Just absolutely beyond belief the heat in your corner of the country. How are you doing? How is your garden holding up? I know it is in the 50s this morning, but the week ahead looks tough. We were forecast to go to 103 air temp. today, before the heat index is figured in. That has been downgraded to 100, but still unheard of for June in this area. I went out to water this AM and was just amazed at the level of heat, even in the shade, before 9:00 AM. I was soaking wet when I retreated back inside after a minimal round of watering pots. This ‘climate change’ is accelerating, and more rapid than anyone expected. WG

  2. I’m saddened to read of the loss of your dear friend, and glad to read of your acceptance. Your photographs are beautiful and so too are your words. Thanks for such a lovely read today.

  3. My favorites today are the red ferns and the bamboo – love the black lines at the joints.
    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Nature tests our mettle, there is no doubt. Your list of cautions is a good one. You must have to garden at dawn to avoid the heat. Please take care!

    • Dear Eliza, So glad you like the bamboo. I was intrigued with the lines and colors in those shots. Tomorrow is garden blogger’s foliage day, and that and the fern were almost saved for tomorrow 😉 The problem is, I”m not getting up at dawn to garden. That would be smart. And a friend has dug up a whole bucket of plants she want to share with me….. A blessing, but I can’t even think of going out to plant them until late evening tomorrow, if then. Our forecast temps keep on going up from here. After this May and June, we wonder what the next 10 weeks of summer weather hold for us here…. I hope your days are still cool enough to enjoy, Eliza. Best wishes to you, ❤ WG

      • We’ve been getting loads of rain lately, which is making everything lush. The temps are still pleasant in the 70s, but the humidity is rising and T-storms are predicted for tomorrow. Still, much more bearable than yours, you poor thing. I hope you get a break soon, otherwise you’ll be gardening at night with a headlamp! 😉

        • That is so funny! We’ve been enjoying the hours after about 7:30 or 8:00 into the night, when it is bearable. I hope you do OK today with the storms headed your way. Giant hugs ❤ ❤ ❤ WG

          • Thanks, we just got a cloudburst and another is coming at the end of the day. I’m trying to get out to my job site, but it will probably be pretty soggy. I would like to be done by the weekend.
            Your weather sounds like it is going to be cruelly hot. Headlamps sound better and better. 😉

            • I read this morning about a new weight loss product: a frozen vest. You wear this thing and burn 200+ calories as the ice in it melts. Sounds like a great thing to have around for days like this 😉 Did you get to your job site? Hope the storms are gentle as they roll across this afternoon.

              • What a great idea! Maybe you could sew one with pockets for those refreezable ice packs. 😉 I did get to the job site as well as to the nursery and filled my car with new plants – that’s the fun part! They won’t go in until Thurs. Hoping to get the lion’s share done by the weekend! Another cloudburst just came through and now it is sunny again – didn’t see a rainbow, though. Sooo muggy! But not anywhere near as bad as you have it. Stay cool!

  4. This was a lovely post with beautiful photos and text. I’m very sorry for your loss-may his memory be a blessing. I hope your hot temperatures moderate soon.

  5. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. There is much wisdom in your post today.

  6. You’ve brought such eloquence to Solstice and Summer with your garden sharings and well considered pearls WG, thank you! May the long time sun shine light with you and yours in joyful health and abundance.
    Condolences on the passing through of your friend::seems like he is well celebrated and has left joy in the trails he’s left behind; that is wonderful that he went peacefully and in love’s embrace.
    Cheers to a hydrated summer ❤

    • Cheers to you and yours, M. Blessings on your family this solstice and this Father’s Day. What a lot to celebrate! Thank you for visiting and for your blessing. Our friend was loved and respected, sorely missed, and now released into the greater reality. He is not gone, only passed over. Giant hugs to you, ❤ ❤ ❤ (when will you come to visit? The wonderful healing gift you sent us is cherished by my partner, and is always at his side. 😉 Thank you 😉 He praises you and your herbal skills daily.

  7. suzicate

    I am so sorry for your loss.
    As I scroll through your photos and read your words, I am once again reminded of why I so love Virginia and am happy to call it home.

    • 🙂 Thank you, Suzi. I hope you and your family are having a wonderful time together this weekend. There is so much to enjoy in Virginia! I visited with our friend’s new widow yesterday, and she has such a wonderful perspective on it all. We are grateful that he didn’t needlessly suffer. Now we must celebrate the warm and accomplished life he lived, and wish him well in his transition. Giant hugs to you, WG ❤ ❤ ❤

  8. Thank you for sharing your Summer Solstice garden, WG – I could imagine the heat and sultry atmosphere – great for many plants but less so for people and pets. We may not understand all of the climate science, but we know our weather patterns are changing. Sorry to hear you have lost a dear friend this week, but glad you have the comfort of knowing he was living life right to the end. I hope you manage to stay cool in your intense heat.

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