June Almanac

June evening fades in such a way you wonder if it’s all a dream.

We let go of spring, our palms now cupped to receive the first blackberries, scuppernongs, Cherokee Purples warm from the sun.

Plump strawberries slowly vanish from the patch, and when the fireflies come out to dance, out, too, comes the homemade mead. 

This year, summer solstice falls on Thursday, June 21. We celebrate the longest day of the year with bare feet, new intentions, sacred fire and dance. Now until Dec. 21, the days are getting shorter.

Savor the fragrant amalgam of honeysuckle and wild rose. Feel the hum of heavy hives, porch fans and crickets. And as cicadas serenade you into dreamy oblivion, sip slowly the sweetness of this golden season.

Whistling for More

I can’t see “Butter Beans” hand-painted on a roadside sign without hearing the Little Jimmy Dickens tune my grandpa used to sing or hum or whistle to himself on quiet Sunday drives:

Just a bowl of butter beans
Pass the cornbread if you please
I don’t want no collard greens
All I want is a bowl of butter beans.

Red-eye gravy is all right
Turnip sandwich a delight
But my children all still scream
For another bowl of butter beans.

When they lay my bones to rest
Place no roses upon my chest
Plant no blooming evergreens
All I want is a bowl of butter beans.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops sing a much sultrier song about this summer staple, but both tunes suggest that, in the South, the lima is the darling of beans.

Good for the heart (this sparks another ditty but we won’t go there), butter beans are rich in dietary fiber, protein, minerals and antioxidant compounds.

Slow cook them or toss them in a cold summer salad. Regardless of how you choose to eat them, best to get them fresh while you can. 

On this June day, the buds in my garden are almost as enchanting as the open flowers. Things in bud bring, in the heat of a June noontide, the recollection of the loveliest days of the year — those days of May when all is suggested, nothing yet fulfilled. – Francis King

Gifts for Papa

Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 17. I think of my papa’s old fishing hat, how it would slide down my brow and, eventually, past my eyelids, then remember his hearty laugh. A few seeds of inspiration for the beloved patriarch in your life:

A new feather for the old cap.

Homemade bread for mater sandwiches.

Pickled okra — local and with a kick!

Homemade mead.

Seeds for the fall garden: lettuce, cabbage,
cauliflower, collards, pumpkin. 

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June. – L. M. Montgomery

Magic, Mighty Oak   

When the sun sets on Saturday, June 23, bonfires will crackle in the spirit of Saint John’s Eve. On this night, the ancient Celts would powder their eyelids with fern spores in hopes of seeing wee nature spirits dancing on the threshold between worlds.

The Celts sure loved their nature spirits. According to Celtic tree astrology, those born from June 10 — July 7 resonate with the sacred oak, a tree said to embody cosmic wisdom and regal power within its expansive roots, trunk and branches. Strong and nurturing, oak types radiate easy confidence. They’re most compatible with ash (Jan. 22 — Feb. 18) and reed (Oct. 28 — Nov. 24) and ivy (Sept. 30 — Oct. 27).

If you find yourself in the company of an ancient oak on a dreamy summer evening, do be on the lookout for playful flashes of light. 

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