Publisher’s Corner: The Joys of June

June has brought out the bluster of a long Winter and slumbered Spring. Climate change has spawned storms and trees without deep roots lie down in surrender. Hail falls and baby birds scamper to safety. Honeybees dodge raindrops as they clover hop. I got my garden in late and the tomato plants seem to be growing in slow motion. I planted a native garden from seeds provided by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. The green bean seeds sprouted and have grown to 12 inches and will soon be climbing up a recycled wooden pallet I am using as a trellis. I am glad I kept the empty seed packets so I know what I planted where. The native garden should be a collage of color and texture when the plants mature. I like this combination of form and function I have created this season as food and beauty will work together to bring us visual and edible delight.

I still have Hoot the Owl watching over the crops in my raised beds. His head bobbing and turning with the breeze. I am hoping this year’s generation of squirrels is a bit more intimidated than last season’s brave little burglars. My grandson Jackson and I visit the chipmunk hole when we kick the ball around the yard. He talks to them in the hole, but has yet to get an answer. I tell him they are pretty shy around humans but Jackson still wants them to answer his calls. Everything is growing like mad now as if to try to catch up with the calendar. The neighborhood “outside” cat took down a baby opossum and a mature garter snake this past week. And two other cats have gone missing in our neighborhood with frantic owners making their rounds calling out names and clinking food dishes.

Our silver maple is failing and its trunk and larger limbs have become hollowed homes to a variety of birds and squirrel families. There seems to be a bumper crop of Robins this year, enjoying the big rains that force the earthworms from the soil and into their waiting beaks. Our woodland garden has become overgrown by ivy and honeysuckle. When things dry out, it’s time to do some thinning and removal. Our lawn is a smorgasbord of clover for the neighborhood pollinators. I give them clover and they give me tomatoes and beautiful natives flowers.

We still don’t see as many crows this year as in past seasons, but the Blue Jay population seems to have grown. Hummingbirds are making their appearance. We are waiting for the butterflies and dragonflies. Not sure what year it is for cicadas but their chirping along with twinkling fireflies will mean summer is officially here.

For now it’s June, maybe the best month in St. Louis. Such a transition time, of great growth and ominous weather. Nature at its best, strong and destructive, breezy and beautiful, ever growing and reminding us all that these seasonal cycles are what makes life march on. This is a time of wonder, of watching, of dreaming and planning. Sunflower seeds turn to sprouts then to tall and sturdy sentries of the garden — then eventually food for cardinals, finches and ballplayers. All benefitting from nature’s bounty. The yellow roses are in full bloom. And yes, I stop to smell them almost every day. A rose is truly heaven’s scent. But touch lightly upon approach, lest thy pleasure be pricked and thy nature’s lesson learned.

The Joys of June, J.B. Lester, Publisher