June Almanac

By Ash Alder

In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.–Aldo Leopold


The mockingbird sings 100 songs. Ballads of honeysuckle and wild rose. Lady’s slipper. Skipper and milkweed. Plump strawberries. Cottontail and mophead hydrangeas.

June is here, he whistles, prelude to a queue of tunes about cukes and pole beans, creaky tire swings, hives full of honey. His morning song, syrupy as the last spring breeze, is interrupted by a string of sharp rasps. The tune tells how to scold a crow.

As fox kits scuffle in a pine-fringed wood, the sweep of a tail sends a troupe of dandelion seeds swirling into the dreamy green yonder. Summer is near, the mockingbird calls. We can feel the truth of it.

Cicada skin clings to the grooved bark of an ancient willow. On the solstice, a little girl finds it. The mockingbird watches her carry it home. Summer is here, the bird sings. The girl places the empty vessel on her
windowsill, hums a tune as sunlight washes over the golden amulet.

Evening unfolds. Fireflies dance beneath the sugar maple and a resident toad joins the cricket symphony. Mockingbird sleeps, yet the music swells
into the night.

Magic of Midsummer

The days grow longer. On Friday, June 9, a full Strawberry Moon illuminates the tidy spirals of golden hay dotting a nearby pasture. For Algonquin tribes, this moon announced ripe fruit to be gathered. Because the hives now hum heavy, the June moon is also called the Mead Moon. Honey, water and yeast. Patience. Sip slowly the magic of this golden season. 

Perhaps stemming from the ancient Druid belief that summer solstice symbolizes the “wedding of Heaven and Earth,” many consider June an auspicious month for marriage. This year, Solstice falls on Tuesday, June 20. Celebrate the longest day of the year with sacred fire and dance. Now until Dec. 21, the days are getting shorter. Sip slowly the magic of these golden hours.

When the sun sets on Friday, June 23 — a new moon — bonfires will crackle in the spirit of Saint John’s Eve. On this night, ancient Celts powdered their eyelids with fern spores in hopes of seeing the wee nature spirits who dance on the threshold between worlds. 

Lady’s Fingers

Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Whichever your preference, fresh okra is one of this month’s most delicious offerings. Also called lady’s fingers, okra is a member of the mallow family (think cotton, hollyhock and hibiscus). The edible seedpods of this flowering plant are rich in vitamins and minerals that promote healthy vision, skin and immune system. Because it’s an excellent source of fiber, okra also promotes healthy digestion.

Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 18. Say “I love you” with a jar of pickled okra — local and, perhaps, with a kick.

Everlasting Love

When you send someone roses — the birth flower of June — the color of the petals tells all. Red reads romance. Pink for gratitude. White or yellow for friendship. Orange for passion.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.

–William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

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