nature 06.28 (piping plover chick)

Piping plover chick

Summer has arrived. She’s got on her flip-flops and sunglasses and is hanging out on the porch with a good book and icy cold, fresh lemonade. She’s ready for whatever comes her way, whether it be pelting rainstorms or hot, humid afternoons at a Little League field.

Summer breezes through traffic jams and floats through the harbors. She loves a good cookout and adores the smell of roses. She doesn’t let much bother her, not like her cousin Winter. She’s carefree and easy, savoring ice cream and late afternoons on the beach dreaming of lobster salads or fried clams.

For many of the rest of us, Summer is busy, busy, busy. Many of us make a good chunk of our yearly income in the summer months. It’s easy to be resentful of Summer’s casual approach to life on Cape Cod, but maybe she’s here to remind us it’s really okay to just enjoy a sunny day splashing in the waves now and then.

Many of our local nesting birds now are feeding fledglings that have left their nests. It’s a little crazy out there. If you feed orioles and hummingbirds, you’ve probably noticed they’re back at your feeders. There are lots of young blackbirds, robins and woodpeckers about. Goslings and ducklings are growing quickly, as are the swan cygnets. Baby turkeys, called poults, are also out and about, hanging out with moms and aunties learning all the cool turkey things they need to know to survive in our crazy world.

Flowers of fruit trees and bushes are long faded, and fruit is setting. Apples, pears, blackberries, blueberries and beach plums are all tiny and green, but they won’t be for long. This is a good time to acquaint yourself with the differences between orange and red Rosa rugosa hips and greenish-purple beach plum fruits. They get confused a lot. Although both are edible and you can make jelly from either, you’ll get quite a surprise if you make rose hip jelly instead of beach plum jelly.

July is prime summertime here on Cape Cod. The beaches are inviting, the fishing is good, and the flowers are beautiful. At the shore the little piping plovers are growing quickly, and the terns are sitting on their nests. Willets love to nest in the marsh and should be on nests now as well. Watch for immature herons in marshy areas. Many are so well camouflaged they can be difficult to see.

Little osprey heads can be seen poking up over the edges of nests, and it won’t be long before they are stretching and exercising their wings, getting ready to fly. Young hawks and owls are already fledged or fledging. Don’t be surprised to hear noisy young hawks if you have a nest near your home. They can scream and cry for hours on end. They may drive us crazy with their racket, but their parents seem deaf to their complaints.

We are coming into prime butterfly and dragonfly time. Learning the different species can be fun and easy. All orange-colored butterflies aren’t monarchs. See which kinds of butterflies frequent your yard and garden, but also go out to wilder areas to really see a good variety. One of the best places on Cape Cod for butterfly viewing is the Crane Wildlife Management Area in Hatchville. If you go, dress for repelling ticks, as it is a very grassy area. Don’t let fear of ticks keep you from enjoying the butterfly show, though. Just be sensible.

Yes, crowds and traffic can feel overwhelming at times. Work can be stressful, and it may be difficult to keep summer problems and summer joys in perspective. I hope you can find the time to get outside and enjoy what our summer visitors enjoy. Summer is fleeting here. Don’t let her pass you by.

Mary Richmond is an artist, writer, naturalist, and educator who grew up on the Cape and lives in Hyannis. More information at www.capecodartandnature.com.

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