Monday, July 20, 2015

I Could Do Without July!

Vines have rampaged along the fences.

High summer has never been a favorite time.  I have lived in three quite distinct areas in terms of climate--in all three, July weather is too hot.
The greater part of my life was spent in Vermont's Champlain Valley, with the Green Mountains rimming the eastern horizon, the dark and rugged thrust of the Adirondacks looming on the New York side of the lake, visible as one drove to the far end of the township.
June--early summer there--brought pleasantly warm days; in my girlhood, June meant  freedom from school, hours to roam in the burgeoning green meadows and woods of my Grampa Mac's farm. My sisters and I rode our bikes with the neighbor girls--also three sisters. If we got too warm, we ditched the bikes, flopped down in the grass, faces turned up to the endless blue of the sky.
Our mothers mixed endless  pitchers of kool aid--sugary sweet, garishly colored in 
faux-fruit flavors.

July segued in with long sultry days--nights too heavy with trapped heat and humidity for sleep. 
Pedaling along the back roads or  hiking up the pasture left one limp, head throbbing, out of sorts.
Yet, as children, so little was expected of us. We were free to spread a blanket in the shade of the silver maple and retreat there with a glass of lemonade and a library book.
Grampa Mac's farmhouse next door offered a relatively cool living room and his old rocking chair by the radio.
Adulthood, and a family of my own, brought a reality check: summer was no longer a time to play or lounge about trying to beat the heat.
July meant garden rows to weed, produce to be harvested, crawling along the ranks of green beans while sweat streamed down my back.  July ushered in hours of canning--steam belching from kettles and heat leaching from the crowded kitchen, seeping into rooms with curtains drawn against the scorching sun.

Weeds have flourished in the area where I attempted to make a rough flower garden.

Before 'retiring' to Kentucky in 2010, we spent 12 years in Wyoming.
July in Wyoming is hot and dusty, with heat that is unrelieved by shade trees. 
Afternoon temperatures soar into three digits--Fahrenheit. 
The sun blazes down, brassy, relentless.
Each afternoon rough wind skirls down from the mountains, picking up grit and sand as it scours across the high arid plains. Grasshoppers bounce in the coarse browned grass.
Summer twilight lingers in Wyoming; sunsets are tinged with the smoke of forest fires.
The saving grace of July in Wyoming is the usual drop in night time temperatures. 
As darkness deepens, cooler air flows down from the mountains. By the wee hours we reached to pull up the quilt folded at the foot of the bed. 
Jim rose at daybreak to work before the sun rose to searing heights.
I wore a sweatshirt while sitting on the porch to sip my morning mug of hot tea or coffee.
Relief from July heat was to be found camping on weekends in the mountains where a heavy sleeping bag was needed to withstand temperatures that could plummet to nearly freezing by midnight.

Willis sulks in a tray of lavender seedlings on the porch.

July in south-central Kentucky is all about heat and intense humidity.
We have learned to garden early in the morning, then to retreat inside, close the windows, draw the curtains, turn on fans or A/C. 
To step outside is to feel that one has been swathed and smothered in a hot steaming blanket.
July this year has been about rain--drenching rain, pounding rain, so much rain that the ground does not dry out before another deluge moves in.
The garden has succumbed to weeds and blight.
I need my wellies to walk down the path into the woods to the spot where I dump used cat litter.
A towel used once remains damp on the towel bar;  I round up towels and clothing each day for laundry, unwilling to leave anything to develop a sour musty odor. I have used the electric dryer more often in July than in January!
Last week I discovered a  slight film of mold creeping along the crevices of furniture.

Jim works doggedly at the renovation of the lower farmhouse, returning every few hours with his shirt plastered to his chest and back.
I paint a wall or two, then sag with exhaustion, hot and cranky.
We revive ourselves with iced tea, lemonade clinking with ice, fruit smoothies.

July, 2015, is nearly over.  August looms.
It is still hot in August
 August is also a month of transition, weather changes that are at first subtle, then more noticeable as the earth turns toward autumn.
There are cool mornings, afternoons when we can open the windows to a refreshing breeze.
I can deal with August, the month of waning summer.
July--I could do without  July!


  1. The humidity must be dreadful where you are too. I would struggle to cope with that - as I do when it - on occasion - gets like that here. I fear I am not born for hot climates and DEFINITELY not desert-living! Keith on the other hand, loves to be really hot.

    I hope you get a little sunshine so you can creep out after breakfast and try and reduce weed levels (if it's any consolation, my paddock plot is waist deep in grass too!)

    1. Jennie; We've had sunshine--but also another burst of night time rain--I'm about ready to give up on gardening for this season.
      Humidity is a real struggle--breathless weather.

  2. Yes, July is brutal! Down here we still have August and September to get through before we see any kind of coming cooler weather.

    I too, work outside early and then hibernate inside the rest of the day. Yesterday I worked outside from 8-11:30. We'll see what today brings. I need to mow and rake up and bag debris from weeding trimming in main garden yesterday. Still more to do, a little at a time, as much as I can tolerate in this heat and humidity.

    Keep as cool as you can and enjoy the rest of July ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; I thought of you and your gardening when we were in FL at the end of June for our son's wedding. By mid-morning I really didn't want to be outside.

  3. I could do without July, too! Crabgrass and binder weed are taking over my garden. Those annoying people who say it can never get hot enough for them, never gardened or canned! One nice thing about July, it's one month closer to autumn!


    1. Jane "One nice thing about July, it's one month closer to autumn!"
      I like that thought!
      Canning is hot work--steamy kitchen--sticky floor--aching back.
      We always remind ourselves that the food will be welcome in winter.

  4. Amen! July in Georgia just has to be endured. I'm ashamed of my garden , it's full of weeds and plants are dying from fungus because of too much rain. Why don't weeds die from it? It will stay hot here through September, but this is the worst. Stay cool.

    1. Janet; KY has hot spells in both August and September, but there are encouraging days when the air feels lighter, less humid.
      Our garden is a mess--like you, I often wonder why the weeds don't get too wet and die!

  5. Poor you, I do sympathise not liking hot weather as well. Especially the weeding with the sun beating down. Remembered the song sung in Camelelot by Arthur, so found it for you. None of us get a perfect climate, but it has been pretty good here in Yorkshire.

    It's true! It's true! The crown has made it clear.
    The climate must be perfect all the year.
    A law was made a distant moon ago here:
    July and August cannot be too hot.
    And there's a legal limit to the snow here
    In Camelot.
    The winter is forbidden till December
    And exits March the second on the dot.
    By order, summer lingers through September
    In Camelot.

    1. Thelma; Its been ages since I head any of the songs from Camelot. I think Arthur has the right ideas in his 'orders' for perfect weather!
      Everyone around here is longing for relief from the on-going high humidity.

  6. You gave such wonderful descriptions of July in the areas where you have lived. I think southwestern Ohio is very similar to where you live now, maybe just slightly lower temperatures, but oh, the humidity. I agree that July is a really tough month.

    1. Lillian; I believe your weather is similar--probably longer winters, as a rule.
      Rain is so welcome--when we need it--but it has surely become dreary this summer.

  7. I have great empathy for your leelings about July, - although having reached a venerable age I no longer have to deal with garden harvests. In this semi-desert valley we would welcome some of your rain, if you could arrange that, please! The wild fires are terrible this year - so much of the province burning, although we have been very lucky ot to have had any large fires near us.

  8. Hildred; Drifting smoke from wildfires was a summer issue in Wyoming. Smoke rolled in from Idaho, California, maybe even from fires in Canada, as well as nearer fires within the state. I couldn't bear to think of the forest creatures trapped in the blaze.
    I would gladly send some of this summer's rain elsewhere--although I doubt it would be welcome in such relentless quantity!