Where’s the color?

For those who may be new to my blog – welcome! I began blogging in 2007, writing about ducks, chickens, favorite nature spots, wild things, and more.  That blog was discontinued compliments of Apple when they decided to no longer provide web service.

I have written of our gray/green northwest world in the past, but it is rare I would be having gray green thoughts in late July! But during this most unusual of years we are waking to more gray skies than blue, and here in the woods dark green foliage, the baby bright green new growth having hardened off, is dense and heavy with dew or rain, a world seemingly without the bright colors of summer.

Spring brings the first splashes of color to NW landscapes. A succession of flowers, from Crocuses, Daffodils, and Tulips, to Rhododendrons, flowering trees and a variety of wild flowers, provide vivid colors to pull us out of our winter doldrums. Summer doldrums? Hmmmmmm……….

The red poppies that re-seed in our garden, usually in bloom by 4th of July, are just setting buds, the big Chinese poppies came and went quickly, looking sad and limp in the rain a few weeks ago, a few brave Hydrangeas are starting to bloom, shyly opening whitish buds that turn pale sky blue, but there is no blue sky to encourage them!

I’m in awe of those hardy plants who have, in spite of the lack of sun, shown boldly their ‘true’ colors. The ‘true’ geranium, or cranesbill, by the meditation building, which each year provides a three foot patch of magenta, is undaunted by this cranky summer weather, each small flower showing it’s dark maroon face to the darken skies. Another cranesbill in the backyard, lighter pink blossoms with white specks, has been blooming steady for a month. The old, intensely scented red rose, each tiny blossom quickly succumbing to extremes of weather, rain or heat, en-mass provides a red accent to the green background. And my zonal geraniums, which sit dry and dusty in the dark back hall all winter, like neon lights, brighten the back porch with their salmon pink, hot pink and orange blooms, snubbing those who say they need lots of sun.

And there are the wild ones, fields of fox gloves, like colorful staffs, point daringly upward to the gray sky.  Hot pink sweet peas, and lavender-pink fire weed, brighten road sides. Though Salmonberries seem scarce this year, cherry red Elderberries stand tall and accent the green world, inviting birds to taste their bitter fruit.

In the absence of sun, on these sometimes gloomy summer days, I find these color spots the remedy to a new condition – MSD – missing summer disorder – unique to the northwest!

For more pictures of summer color splashes view Summer Flowers

Surviving Summer

Everyone is complaining about the rain, the gray, the cold, the non-summer season we are experiencing here in the Northwest. In the rest of the country there is the searing heat. It is easy to complain about the weather. There is no immediate target for blame (the issue of climate change aside). There is no compulsion for the conscientious to write a letter to a senator or representative, or the editor of a local paper, no need to change political parties, or join an organization for change. There isn’t much we can do that will change the weather in the immediate future. And yet there are oodles of forums and blogs on the Internet discussing weather. We have a lot to say and a fascination with something we have very little control over. I do not mean we do not impact climate, but the day-to-day weather is beyond our immediate reach for management.

In all that it does, Nature has a remarkable way providing us opportunities for learning and introspection. Weather is no exception. Acceptance? Resignation? How un-American! We are a culture of action – if you are unhappy, do something about it! I’m reminded of cultures who live with dramatic, extreme weather every year – monsoons, sandstorms, unbearable heat one season, frigid cold the next. People who live with these extremes have adapted to them, have rituals, methods of survival, developed a level of sustainability that has lasted for centuries – when the climate anomalies happen, the expected monsoon does not come, the temperatures modify, plants that have adapted don’t flourish, nor do the animals and people dependent upon them, sustainability falters.

Our weather anomalies, still within the temperate zone, have a less dramatic affect on us – or do they? Will produce prices rise with smaller harvestable crops this year, due to lack of sun in the west, or rain in the heartlands? Could there actually be a shortage of food? Are we also susceptible to our basic survival needs being threatened by this unusual weather year? There is some evidence this can happen from past years when weather did affected crops, or increased fuel demand, causing supplies to decreased and prices to increased. The dust bowl of the 30s was certainly a time weather seriously affected many lives. Perhaps basic survival instincts are the deeper, unconscious, reason for our complaining, not the wedding that gets rained on, the vacation plans that need to be adjusted, the hike that is canceled.

It isn’t likely our survival is at risk from food shortages, as much as it might be at risk from our lack of adaptability, which obviously is a survival tool applicable in multiple areas of life. The need to adapt to the long range changes in our culture, economy, personal lives may be more critical than adapting to a freaky weather year. We have, as a society, perhaps been lulled into thinking we should have things a certain way. The weather may be giving us an opportunity to strengthen our adaptability muscles.

Maybe we just like to complain about something we can’t change, leaving us with one option – changing ourselves – our perspective and attitude.

It’s stopped raining, think I’ll go out and enjoy a beautiful wet, windy gray summer day!

Post Script: The sun appeared!

Honeysuckle does not seem to mind the gray – and the hummingbirds love the honeysuckle!