Our rides — do we love them? Oh, yes
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Our rides — do we love them? Oh, yes

Jun 09, 2023

July 02, 2023

Summers Dog Days coming

The Dog Days of summer will be with us beginning next week and will continue until the middle of August. They are known as some of the season’s hottest and most humid days. This is the first week of fireworks in the form of Day Days.

The term, “Dog Days” did not originate because dogs go mad in July and August as grandma always said. Dog Days comes from the fact that Sirius, the dog star in the constellation of Canis Major and the brightest star in the night sky, rises with the sun and follows the sun across the sky during Dog Days. The period of Dog Days produces some of summer’s hottest, muggy and humid days. At grandma’s home in Northampton County, her two hounds knew exactly what to do on Dog Days. They would go under the house out of the sun and stretch out under a layer of cool dirt. They would remain there until sundown and then come out for supper. Dogs seem to handle these hot days better than humans.

Cooling of birds on Dog Day afternoons

The Dog Day sun bears down on the water in the bird bath. Change the water in the bath in the afternoon and evening and refill with fresh, cold water. A fresh cool drink during the Dog Day afternoons will keep the birds cooled down and refreshed and keep them returning many times during the day.

Days growing shorter

A subtle sign of autumn in the beginning stage of Dog Days is the fact that summer days are getting shorter by one minute a day and will continue to do this all the way until the first day of winter, which will be Thursday, Dec. 21.

Staking sweet bell peppers to add support

The hot cayenne and sweet bell peppers need stakes or cages to support and protect them from wind and thunderstorms and keep peppers from blowing over and also promote a cleaner harvest. Feed them every 15 days with Plants-Tone organic vegetable food. As they develop blooms, mix water in a spray bottle such as glass cleaner comes in and mix in several tablespoons of Epsom salts. Spray a mist on blooms once a week to promote larger peppers at harvest.

Colorful rainbows a result of afternoon storms

One of the many benefits of summer’s evening pop-up thunderstorms is not only their relief to lawns, gardens and woodlands but also the colorful rainbows that are an aftermath of the storm. Rainbows appear in the eastern sky when the sun appears after the storm. A rainbow features all the colors in the spectrum of light and they are red, orange, yellow, blue, green, indigo and violet. When light of the sun shines down it divides the spectrum into these colors and produces a rainbow that could last for four or five minutes. The most beautiful bows that seem to glow are when dark gray clouds form a background for the colors of the rainbow making the bow appear to glow. An added bonus is the reflection of a bow appearing above the rainbow and making it appear to be two rainbows.

June was lit by fireflies

Most of June’s twilight’s were brightened by the amber flicker and glow of fireflies. There were hundreds around on June evenings. The females were flying low and seen on the lawn and ground as the males flickered their flashing signals as they searched for a mate. We try to get a count of them all during the month. As their numbers increase, we find that June seems to be the big month for fireflies as they enjoy warmer evenings just as we do.

The Lord created them with a scent that is unforgettable and unique. To their insect enemies and bats they taste as bad as the scent they possess. We know that scent very well and catch a few and release them each summer to recall memories of a huge saw-dust pile near my grandma’s Northampton County house in the 1950s and catching the fireflies in a mason jar. Their signal of light is not just for a mate, but to warn other insects that they are near. It is unusual, but the larvae of the fireflies glows and protects them with that glow. They are truly one of nature’s most unusual of insects and a highlight of every summer!

Afternoon storm paves way for petticoats

July seems to be the month of afternoon pop-up thunderstorms as they make appearances almost every week to bring refreshment and relief to lawns, gardens and flower beds, and bring revival to parched soil. The maples, poplars and oaks sense that a pop-up storm is brewing and flip their petticoats in an awesome display of white and green as they turn their leaves around to receive every drop of expected moisture from the approaching thunderstorm. The wind picks up and clouds turn from white to gray and then black; flashes of lightning and rolls of thunder are seen and heard in the distance.

Birds sense the storm is near and are flying toward their nests and shelters to wait out the storm. The aroma of fresh rain is now in the air. Raindrops begin to fall and the petticoats are now completely flipped in expectation of the approaching storm. Suddenly, we hear the rain just a short distance away and then the downpour. The storm lasts for 45 minutes and dumps an inch of rain. The sun comes out and the petticoats flip themselves back. The earth has a new freshness, and every growing thing has new life.

Beautiful Queen Anne’s Lace’s majestic show

Along the highways, meadows, and fields of Surry and Stokes counties and down country lanes, the dainty Queen Anne’s Lace is aglow in a sea of snowy white majesty blowing in the gentle summer breeze. Queen Anne’s Lace grows all across America and in the Midwest. It really grows in Wisconsin where it forms pathways along railroad beds and along the interstates beside tall rows of corn over six feet tall. It can be seen along the runways at Milwaukee Airport. It thrives in North Carolina all summer.

My mother always gathered stems of Queen Anne’s Lace to use in floral arrangements for the altar table at church to highlight the zinnias she raised in the backyard. There was plenty of Queen Anne’s Lace in Northampton County and my grandma decorated her large round dinner table with Queen Anne’s Lace all during the summer. It has long and strong stems and was perfect for mixing with other flowers. With its lacy accent, it certainly has the appropriate name.

Pink flowers adorn the trees of acacia

My mother and grandmother always called them” powder puff trees.” They have passel pink puffy flowers and are fuzzy like a powder puff. The foliage resembles clusters of fern that is dark green and really highlights the pink of their blooms. They grow along the highways and edges of fields in North Carolina and Virginia. Its name is Acacia tree. It is a relative of the acacia family of trees and the shittah tree mentioned more than 20 times in the Bible. Like the cedar, it was a hardwood that resisted decay like the ark that Noah built out of gopher wood and the furniture in the tabernacle in the wilderness and especially the Ark of the Covenant.

Checking cantaloupes for ripeness

July is the season of the cantaloupe when they are at their peak of sweetness, color, and ripeness. To determine the ripeness of cantaloupes, your nose will tell you one of the signs of ripeness by the sweet smell of the melon. Another sign is the color of the melon because a ripe melon will have an amber color and a softness about it. Another sure sign of ripeness is the stem end, it will be dark tan or medium brown.

The very best of cantaloupes is the Athena variety, semi-oval in shape and three fourths the size of a football. The best cantaloupe raised in North Carolina are available in Warren County in eastern North Carolina. They are about the size of a softball and known as the Ridgeway cantaloupe. They are grown in Ridgeway between Henderson and Norlina and just off Interstate 85 north at the Ridgeway exit to U.S. Highway one. They are available from mid-July and into August. Toward the end of July, Ridgeway has its annual Cantaloupe Festival. The melons are featured at roadside stands and tents along U.S. Highway One. They feature cantaloupes by the bushel or bag.

Before you arrive at Ridgeway, onto U.S Highway one, you can enjoy the aroma of cantaloupes, fresh and sweet. If you are heading to Richmond, Williamsburg, or Washington, D.C., pull off at the Ridgeway exit which is about 12 miles from the Virginia state line. Pick up a bushel of the sweetest mellow cantaloupes in America. Most area supermarkets in Warren County feature Ridgeway cantaloupes or best of all, buy a bushel of harvest-fresh cantaloupe’s in Ridgeway. You will not have to test Ridgeway melons. You will smell their ripeness before you arrive in this tiny crossroads town in the middle of Warren County.

Hoe hoe hoedown

“Name that Nickname.” A school teacher in the state of Maine was telling her pupils how people in other states had unusual nicknames and that people in North Carolina are called “Tar Heels” and people from Ohio are called “Buckeyes” and people from Indiana are called “Hoosiers.” All these names designated something significant about that state. The teacher asked her pupils if they could name the people in their state. Little Priscilla raised her hand and said “Maniacs!”

“Daniel Boone, doctor?”First kid: “Did you know that all Daniel Boone’s brothers were doctors?” Second kid: “How do you know this was true?” First Kid: “Haven’t you heard of the Boone docs?”

The almanac for July

The full moon will occur after sunset on the evening July 3. The name of this moon will be “Full Buck Moon.” Other names for this moon are “Full Raspberry Moon” and “Full Salmon Moon.” The moon fact for the month says that the last quarter moon rises near midnight each month. Independence Day will be on Tuesday, July 4. The moon reaches its last quarter on Sunday, July 9. There will be a new moon on the western horizon on Monday, July 17. Midsummer begins at midnight on Tuesday, July 18. The moon reaches its first quarter on Tuesday, July 25.

Summers Dog Days comingCooling of birds on Dog Day afternoonsDays growing shorterStaking sweet bell peppers to add supportColorful rainbows a result of afternoon stormsJune was lit by firefliesAfternoon storm paves way for petticoatsBeautiful Queen Anne’s Lace’s majestic showPink flowers adorn the trees of acaciaChecking cantaloupes for ripenessHoe hoe hoedownThe almanac for July