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Almanac July 2024

July is the scratch of wild bramble, a rogue rumble of thunder, the snap, crackle, pop of grasshoppers on the wing.

The soundtrack of summer is alive and swelling. As the temperature rises, the cicadas turn the dial from lusty to deafening. Gentle crescendos are for the birds.

Catbird sings of blueberries. Mockingbird, too. Red-bellied woodpecker gorges on fruit.

Among ditch daisies and dancing grasses, meadow-beauty and blooming Joe Pye, the crickets declare their sole intention. It’s time now, they announce. Let’s do this! We came here on a mission!

Life wants to live. All beings know some version of this tune. The dream of every cricket is next summer’s mating song.

In the garden, mantis munches on June beetles. Honeybees serenade black-eyed Susans. A watermelon whispers that it’s time, now. 

One look and you know it’s true. Still, you give the rind a solid thwack.

Yep. Music.

As you gently twist the whopper from the stem, the cicadas scream with primal knowing.

This is when you choose to slow down. Feel the weight of swollen fruit as you hold it close. Give thanks for the soundscape, the sweetness, the sweat on your brow.

Despite these endless summer days, the transience of this season is palpable.

Let’s do this, the crickets trill. It’s time now. Life as we know it depends on us.


Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the tree house; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.    — Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

All That Glitters

Grab the binoculars. A Mars-Uranus conjunction will grace the Eastern sky an hour before sunrise on Monday, July 15. Look to Taurus (the white bull) for this rare glimpse of two planets, seemingly close enough to kiss.

On the subject of shining moments, jewelweed is having one this month, too. In other words: It’s blooming.

With its small-but-showy orange flowers (they do look like tiny charms dangling from slender stalks), you’re likely to spot this native medicinal along forest edges — especially near poison ivy. As Nature has arranged it, the sap from jewelweed leaves and stems can be applied topically to help soothe itchy rashes. Simply brilliant.   

En Plein Air

Did you know that National Play Outside Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of every month? This Fourth of July weekend, turn off the screens. It’s time for some old-fashioned yard fun. Hopscotch. Double Dutch. Corn-shucking on the porch.

Bust out the freeze pops. The hammock. The threadbare picnic blanket.

Is your kid the next egg-and-spoon race champion? Watermelon seed-spitting extraordinaire? Double-dog dare you to find out.   OH