I sit on the Urban Porch with iced refreshment and dog as the summer progresses. Some views remain the same and some continue to shift. The most spectacular event this month was a bit of dramatic weather.
Those who know me know that I love intense weather. When the clouds start building and the wind picks up out of the west, when the thunder rolls in and the lightening begins to strobe, it always sets off some sort of internal excitement. So there I was, parked on my porch chair awaiting the “Severe Thunderstorm” that was reported to be heading our way.
A large black cloud starting edging in from the right, while on the left a billowing, marshmallow-white cumulus developed a strange, glowing, golden edge of sunlight. The wind picked up, the one remaining wind chime started to gyrate noisily. Some serious rain began; a brief scent of petrichor. I settled into my chair with the dog to enjoy the rain dance, until without warning (well, OK, we actually were kind of warned….) we were driven into the house by crazy wind, water and debris way beyond the usual. Then the hail started pummeling the house and windows. Every flash of lightening turned the sky red. The trees were bending, windows shaking. Yahoo.
This beautiful photo was taken of what was actually happening in our neighborhood by a local photographer shooting from a few miles away.
It was over pretty quickly. We were lucky. A few squashed plants, some things blown around the yard. Oddly enough, the hanging plants on the porch remained fixed there, although their flowers were gone. We didn’t even lose power. My dog Rudi, who I often refer to as “Mr. Anxiety”, remained calm throughout the event. For all his worrisome demeanor, he is oddly bomb-proof when it comes to fireworks or storms. Strange little dog….
In the freaky way these things operate, my neighbors experienced different results. The house across the street had the cupola blown off the roof, where it landed in someone else’s yard down the street (luckily it didn’t hit anyone). A large tree came down in that same back yard and decimated the back deck of their next door neighbor’s house. Two houses down a tree landed on a car, electric wires came down and were arcing. Trees were snapped and uprooted. I was told another neighbor’s chickens disappeared in the wind, which is rather disturbing.
It turned out to be an F-1, 90 mph tornado, which seems be something that is happening a lot more frequently around here as the years go by. It is actually the third or fourth one I’ve experienced. I cannot imagine what the higher F-level tornados that happen in the mid-west must be like. Afterward, people came out of their houses in a sort of Oz-like daze to survey the situation. Roads were closed and the cleanup began almost immediately and thoroughly, with the sound of chainsaws and chippers punctuating the air for a day or two. And that was it.
Much less dramatic observations from the porch this month – the House Sparrows continue to occupy the soffit on the corner. This one tends to perch at the top of the post below the hole in the soffit where they made their nest. It repeats an ongoing “cheep” all day long. I wonder who it is talking to.
We planted a small sugar maple in the median space between the road and the sidewalk in front of the house where the beloved Linden tree used to be. Hopefully some day it will get large enough to shade the front porch. Some of the dirt that was used to fill the hole around the tree apparently had corn kernels in it, because suddenly there is corn growing in the median. This actually amuses me. I look forward to seeing if it survives and if so, how high it gets….
It is almost August and the crows have not returned to the Crow Tree this year, which is a little disappointing. They are around, but not in any significant volume, so the crew must have found a more enticing location this season. A few were roosting in the tree across the street over night because I saw them leave in the morning.
We have a bunny hanging around. Here it is one evening by my hostas. It froze when Rudi and I stepped off the porch before bounding away. Whenever I see a rabbit, I just want to say “Bunny, bunny bunny!” like I used to with my children. There’s just something about a bunny….
The Rose of Sharon is in full bloom. I planted this one from a little twig many years ago and it now shelters the entire side of the porch, creating a lovely summer privacy screen. It is usually filled with bumble bees, their bee-butts dusted with yellow pollen. This year there are many honey bees hovering around it, which is probably a good sign.
I have a few plants growing in pots on the porch. The heat has caused the basil to start bolting. The first few cherry tomatoes have begun to ripen.
So that’s the view from the Urban Porch as we move through the “Dog Days of Summer”. I was just having a conversation about the Dog Days with a friend. Although at the moment it is so hot we are just about panting like dogs in the heat, the reason they are called Dog Days is because “Ancient Greeks noticed that Sirus—which they dubbed the “dog star” as it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major—appears to rise alongside the sun in late July. They believed the combined power of the stars is what made this the hottest time of year.” I’ll leave you with that tidbit….