The next seven or eight weeks are the apogee of summer, if we measure that in day length. In fact, “apogee” refers to the top of the sine curve of day length plotted against time. For the few weeks before and after June 21, length of day changes only a little bit daily, as opposed to the rapid lengthening and shortening around the equinoxes. Today in Washington, DC, the day is 14 hours and 34 minutes long. Early enough to risk getting awakened by sunlight before you’d want to, and late enough to linger after dinner on the screen porch and converse into the long summer twilight. Ever notice that in the summer the twilight seems to go on forever, while in winter when the sun goes down it’s like somebody flipped off the light switch in a windowless room?
Cycling on the trail on these long, light-filled days, nature seems vibrant even when the sky is loaded with nimbostratus clouds, as has been the case here for the last couple of days. On today’s ride alone I saw:
1) A vole, who scurried across the path and into the grass as I approached.
2) A woodchuck, on the shoulder of the trail, typically arrogant and nonchalant, nibbling in earnest on some greenery. As any gardener will tell you, this was not a good woodchuck; he was alive.
3) A deer, grazing in a grove by the side of the trail. We got to within about five feet before becoming mutually aware of the other’s presence; she bolted instantly. None of that Bush-caught-in-the-headlights indecision for her.
4) A rabbit, who scurried ahead of me by the edge of the trail until he abruptly hung a sharp right.
5) A Black Snake, who was entering the tall underbrush as I approached. I therefore only saw the last 2 1/2 feet of him or so, but he looked to be good size. Probably actively seeking to keep down that vole population.
Squirrels, chipmunks, butterflies, and common songbirds are too frequent to document.
So the fauna are making the most of summer. Perhaps they know what Shakespeare knew when he wrote in a sonnet that “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” I’ll be back on the trail tomorrow.
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.