THE SUMMER WIND

SONGS THAT COME BLOWING IN, by Rich Paschall


If you visited this space last Sunday, you saw the top Songs of Summer as given by the musical genius, Brian Wilson.  Those may have been songs that evoked thoughts of summer for Brian, but some were a real stretch of the imagination to me.  I promised you songs that are really about summer.

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Summertime by George Gershwin is arguably the most beloved summertime song ever. Great singers from Billie Holiday through Janis Joplin recorded magical versions of the song. Originally written by Gershwin for the 1935 modern opera, Porgy and Bess, rock and opera stars alike have recorded it. I’m sure you’ve heard it and probably have a favorite version.

When the Beach Boys put out a new album for their 50th anniversary, they served up a perfect piece of nostalgia with Summer’s Gone, written by Brian Wilson. He took lead on the record and in performance.  Unfortunately, they did not do it throughout the anniversary tour and there’s only one fan video from the last stop I can find.  Therefore, this tribute through old and new pictures will have to serve:

Now, the countdown:

10. Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer, Nat King Cole, 1963.  If I heard it once, I heard it a million times (as the saying goes) while growing up.  I guess we must really have liked it. Cole was alive then and would turn up on variety shows to perform this.  Unfortunately, variety shows have disappeared.
9.  A Summer Song, Chad and Jeremy, 1964
8.  Summer Nights, from the play and movie, Grease.  It was “the word” for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.  If you can look past all the people who killed this song in karaoke, it might still be a favorite.
7.  In the Summertime, Mungo Jerry, 1970  The song filled with odd sounds and rhythms was a mega-hit for the British group.
6.  Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and the Family Stone  This one was at the top of the Brian Wilson list.

5.  Surfer Girl, the Beach Boys  This early Beach Boys hit remained a fan favorite through the years.  Almost 50 years after first recording it, they could still perform the harmonies with ease.  Well, if not with ease, then at least with a lot of coaching by Brian:

4.  Summer Rain, Johnny Rivers, 1968  It didn’t make it to the top of the charts, but it is one of those songs that keeps getting played.  Now in his 70s, Rivers is still performing his many hits.

3.  Summer Wind, Frank Sinatra, 1966  Wayne Newton first recorded the song in 1965, but it is Sinatra who had a hit the following year.

2.  Summer Breeze, Seals & Crofts, 1972  Written and performed by Jim Seals and Dash Crofts.

1.  Summer in the City, The Lovin’ Spoonful, 1966  Released in July 1966, by August it was number 1.  The overplayed summer anthem included a car horn and jack hammer sounds to let you know you were in the city.

What are your summer favorites?

UNEXPECTED WEATHER?

You can’t expect the weather … except … you really can. It’s unexpectedly hot around here. But it’s summer, so this unexpected heat wave was entirely expected and is completely normal.

The electric company apparently didn’t expect it and have gotten quite hysterical about the whole thing. You’d think it was their homeowner customers who created this emergency by our derelict over-usage of electricity. It’s not the mall which refrigerate the entire space to 65 degrees when it’s 100 outside. Oh no, never the commercial customers.

Meanwhile, it’s freaking HOT and the humidity is up there too. A couple of days ago with this weather visible on the map and the television meteorologists getting all excited, National Grid swung into action. It has been a pretty dull weather period, more notable for what isn’t happening (rain) than what is, namely muggy, gray days during which it looks like rain, but doesn’t.

National Grid started sending out (pardon the pun) heated warnings.

I got the first two via email, then two more via early morning robot calls.

Turn down your air conditioning to 78 degrees! Avoid high bills! Don’t stress our power grid. (Subtext: We need all the power to keep malls at 65 degrees. You homeowners are not big customers, so you can sit at home wheezing and sweating.)

If I turn the A/C to 78 degrees in this house, the humidity will turn our home into mold city.

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In the spirit of coöperation — and in hopes of not getting an electric bill that will knock me off my feet — I turned it up to 75 degrees. This is an older house without central air. Just window A/C. and even that, not in every room. We don’t cool rooms we don’t use much. Which is, to put it mildly, not as efficient as we might wish. It’s all we’ve got and summer is short. Our A/C units are less than two years old, so this is as good as it will get here.

By the time evening rolled around, the house was disgusting. We were disgusted.

Sticky. Hot. Everything was damp, especially us. The dogs wouldn’t sleep on the sofas, preferring the hard floors where it’s cooler. They’ll go outside only if threatened. Even so, they were throwing us dirty looks which hadn’t been washed this century.

By nine in the evening, I looked at Garry and said “How hot are you?”

“Bad,” said Mr. I Love Summer. “How are you doing?”

“I’m miserable,” I said. “I was thinking — damn National Grid. I can’t breathe!” I have asthma. The humidity was making my lungs work a double shift.

I turned the air conditioning to a more breathable 73. After an hour, air returned to the house.

I’m betting the people who write electrical usage “guidelines” are not sitting and sweating in their houses. I bet they have central A/C set for their personal comfort. They are not sweating out the heat wave. I know power is an issue, but so is quality of life.

Flash message for guideline issuers: OLDER PEOPLE TOLERATE HEAT POORLY.

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That’s right. You get older and your body is not as efficient at regulating core temperature as it was in youth. Those of us with other physical stuff, like arthritis, asthma and heart problems? Our ability to tolerate days of sitting in heat and humidity is dangerous to life and the continuation thereof.

I’m sure I’ll get the bill for this mad, crazy need to breathe. The bill alone might give me a stroke. Right now, I don’t care. I just want some air.

DAILY POST | UNPREDICTABLE?

THE CHANGING SEASONS – JUNE 2016: THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

The Changing Seasons: June 2016

THE SUMMER SOLSTICE


The weather has been strange everywhere. A mild winter, followed by an early spring. The leaves were at least a week ahead of schedule. Out in the middle of the country, non-stop rain created massive flooding, while the west and southwest have had temperatures so high the forests turned to tinder. At least half a dozen states are burning as I write this. With temperatures over 100 degrees farenheit (40+ centigrade), there’s no relief in sight yet.

Home. The bare trees are maple and oak. The ash and other trees were left (mostly) in peace.

Home. The bare trees are maple and oak. The ash, catalpa and other trees were left (mostly) in peace.

Here, in southern New England, our mild winter was followed by plentiful, but not excessive rains and it looked like it would be a lovely summer with full rivers and ponds where the birds could nest and feed.

Then … the Gypsy Moth caterpillars arrived. A week into June, and suddenly, the house, the driveway, and every hardwood tree in the forest was covered by aggressive, destructive, invasive hairy eating machines. Millions and millions of caterpillars. Everywhere. You could hear them dropping as you drove, like hail on the car roof.

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In short order, they ate every leaf off every oak tree and for dessert, consumed the maples, apple, and every other fruit tree that was not protected. The ground was writhing with caterpillars to which many people are allergic, making leaving the house a nightmare. It was like living in a bad horror movie.

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Trapped in the house, we finally got someone to spray the house and surrounding areas. Within a couple of hours, they began dying … filling the roof, driveway, walks, and ground with the corpses of caterpillars.

And then, they began to vanish. As mysteriously as they arrived, they disappeared. Starvation? They had eaten everything they normally eat. Caterpillar plague? There is such a thing and generally, on heavy infestation years like this one, it breaks out and they die by the millions.

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The trees are trying to come back. There are spring-like buds on many of the trees. Not every tree, but most of them. The oaks are the slow to leaf in the spring and even slower to re-leaf after defoliation.

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The gardens had no flowers at all until today when suddenly, roses appeared. Not where they were last year or any of the previous years. They showed up in a completely new part of the garden, leaving dead bushes in their wake. The day lilies — only two blooming — are covered with hundred of buds. Strange vision, with the naked oak trees.

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Summer is here. There will, I hope, be new leaves on the maples and some of the oaks. But today, you can see winter bare trees against a blue sky on the summer solstice.

NOTE: All the pictures on this page — except for Garry’s caterpillars — were taken yesterday afternoon. Also note how the trees are full in some places, but bare in others.


What’s this «Changing Seasons» blogging challenge?

«The Changing Seasons 2016» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2016. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed. These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

This is the second year of participating and it is turning out to be much more interesting than I imagined possible. For followers of climate change, this shows rather more than anyone anticipated. Even if you have not participated previously, it’s not too late to join!

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WITH RELENTLESS EFFICIENCY

After a lot of whining and complaining, I settled down. I filled out the ridiculous amount of paperwork, reconstructed as much of my medical history as I could — anything more than 5 years ago, is more than a little vague — and of course, my list of medications. I got my son to witness my permission to hunt down my records (good luck with that), and signed a new health proxy (everyone should have one — and I do mean absolutely everyone). Then, papers in hand, we drove over to the new doctor’s office — a mere one town over!

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I turned them over along with the appropriate Medicare insurance information and went home to notify Blue Cross Blue Shield that I’m changing doctors. They actually didn’t care because I have a PPO and don’t require a listed primary care doctor. I can go to any doctor that takes BCBS payments … which is nearly every doctor in the region except the group to which my current doctor is migrating.

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I explained that I needed an appointment with the new guy because I was going to need new prescriptions at the end of this month. Somehow, she found an appointment. Which conflicted with the dental appointment and the finishing up of my crown. So I took the doctor appointment, moved the dentist to the following day, leaving one day before the cardiologist appointment … and the almost immediate arrival of a houseful of out-of-town visitors. June and July have filled up.

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Summer always fills up quickly. I’m sure you’ve noticed. The weather turns warm and suddenly, you’re booking stuff for next September. It’s because winter is brutal. You can’t count on anything in the winter. Nature might just decide to throw a blizzard on the day you plan to visit those friends in Vermont. Instead, no one is going anywhere for a few days at least.

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It’s amazing how we manage to not see people we really want to see because when we are free, they are not. Everyone is busy seeing the people they need to see while they can … and before you know it, another year slips away.

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I haven’t found the cure for not enough time. I’ve been looking for something to do about this my whole life. I thought, after retirement, we’d have all the time in the world. In a sense, we do … but we live in New England. Winter is at best a wild card. You can plan, but you can’t be sure it will really happen, which means we really only have half the year to do stuff . There’s always more stuff to do than time.

I’m working on this. I suspect I’ll always be working on it forever.

THEY’RE BACK! RETURN OF THE GYPSY MOTH

It’s going to be a big year for the gypsy moths. They never really leave, but some years are really bad compared to other, relatively light years.

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This is going to be a bad year. One side of my house is covered with caterpillars. Garry had to dig his car out, as if from under snow. They’ve been coming into the house via the dogs. A few hitched a ride on some Amazon deliveries. I’m spooky about bugs of any kind though I’m not actually afraid of caterpillars, per se.

Unlike spiders and other crawling insects, my heart does not threaten to seize in my chest when I find one. Unfortunately, my startle reflex doesn’t know what’s crawling on me. I only feel something crawling and I do the knee jerk EEK, YOW, UGH, YUK before I ultimately recognize the culprit.

It’s not only that the gypsy moths are creepy pests. They are an invasive pest that consumes oak trees. They have been known to wipe out entire hardwood forests. They’ve almost killed off the black oaks in Pennsylvania.

They aren’t even pretty. No redeeming features that I know of and no natural enemies, either. A pest of the first magnitude with the distinction of being number 1 on our national list of destructive invasive species.

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As you’ve probably guessed by the repetition of the word “invasive,” gypsy moths are not native to these parts. Originally a European pest, they took to the New World with a vengeance as soon as they got a bite of it. They’ve been in New England since 1869. at which time they were accidentally introduced near Boston, Massachusetts. Normally, we are happy to have visitors to our fair shores, but not these guys.

In their 150 years on these shores, they have made their way from Massachusetts to Canada,  down to Florida, then back up the middle to Wisconsin and beyond. It’s only a matter of time before they are literally everywhere there is food they can eat. They prefer hardwood trees, but in a pinch, will eat literally anything that grows.

On a purely person level, this means that I won’t go outside unless I must until the moths retreat. We haven’t had a really bad gypsy moth invasion in a few seasons. Probably the exceptionally cold, snowy winters kept them in check.

They are back. I’m so very sorry to see them again.


NOTES:

1: In case you’re interested, click on “gypsy moths” here or at the beginning of this post. It will take you to a link where you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about these nasty, hungry pests. Yuck.

2: Don’t forget the ants. Just because caterpillars have arrived, it does not imply the ants have departed. Have I mentioned how much I hate the bugs? This is not going to be my favorite summer.

3: Sometimes, life in the country is way overrated.

SOLOMON’S SEAL IN BLOOM

Suddenly, there are flowers. Everywhere. Trees are coming into leaf. Gardens are bright with spring flowers. I have been nurturing a patch of wild Solomon’s seal for more than ten years. This year, perhaps because of all the rain, they are in overdrive.

I took these pictures less than an hour after the rain … two weeks of rain … finally stopped. Hopefully, we will get a few days of sunshine before the next monsoon hits.

If you are interested in the medicinal properties of this plant (and there are many), this is a pretty good place to start.

Flower of the Day – Solomon’s Seal

NATURAL PHENOMENON

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: PHYSICAL PHENOMENON
FROM PAULA:

This Thursday I want you to get physical and show me a natural phenomenon that arouses your curiosity.

I find that condensation lends itself to great photographic possibilities, and you may find your inspiration elsewhere. Physical phenomena are all around us; just think of “Brazil nut effect”, foam, ice, cereal floating in a bowl of milk and clumping together. Think about magnets, static in your hair, or show me the most beautiful one of all – a rainbow. I look forward to your entries which will be again displayed on this page. Happy Thursday!

Living in a woods, the natural world and its phenomena dominate life. The leaves that fall and pile up, turning quickly to compost, and the rain water that runs down the driveway pooling at the bottom. Our ever-changing skies and the snow.

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The relentless seasons that are gone before I have a moment to grab them in my lens.

Rainbows have been few and far between, but this month, the equinox month, has been full of the most beautiful sunrises. This one is a favorite, taken as the sun rose the morning of the Vernal Equinox.