Photo essay: Nothing so fine as a summer day

Season’s bounties a balm for trying times

With the solstice come and gone, spring is but a memory; summer is in full throttle in south Florida. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is la crème de la crème.

In the North, Mother Nature finally outwits the cold, bringing long-awaited blooms. The Mid-Atlantic basks in wisteria cascading down old walls; roses and lilacs put in an appearance.

Rivers wander. The Myakka is rain-dependent. Through a droughty winter/spring, it dries up to a trickle in some places. But with heavy rains, it spreads out over the countryside. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

In the South, it is the rainy season. Rivers wander; plants run rampant. It is as if some green giant has sloshed through field and forest, covering up the pale tans of winter’s grasses. Pinks (agalinis and pale meadow beauty) and golds (bachelor buttons, yellow-eyed grass and tickseed) replace the early birds — blue-eyed grass, and blue flag iris. Passionflower is fading. Beautiful tarflower is on the ascendancy.

Out of their winter confinement, alligators are all over the place. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Bees feast on saw palmetto and cabbage palm, their buzzing so loud, it stops me in my tracks. At Myakka State Forest, a tiny green bee lands on the green eyes I am photographing.

Rivers wander. They spread over the land, and as I step onto the bank to photograph the Myakka in flood, a loud splash reminds me that alligators wander, too. At night, the bellowing of males resonates through swampy areas.

The ‘Green Giant’ is at work slathering everything with different shades of green. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

The sun reigns supreme. At noon, it casts magnificent shadows on canopy roads. Our star is on the ascendancy until the solstice on June 21, the official start of summer. Months after, it oh so slowly moves southward, with Earth proceeding on its annual trek.

For a time Gulf waters are placid as a millpond. May’s tropical storm is history; hurricanes are yet to come. Beachgoers feast on Rothko palettes of greens and blues.

Pink and gold accents (agalinis and tickseed) are prevalent in the summer landscape. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Industrial parks are not exempt from the orgy. Green growing things brave heat and air pollution to pull in pollinators. In these days of diminishing habitats, the offerings are a precious oasis for birds, dragonflies and butterflies.

Summer makes the big city festive. Natives and tropicals dress up sidewalks and thoroughfares. Poinciana reigns in old Miami.

Gulf waters take on colors of a Rothko painting. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

At home, low humidity allows us to throw open windows and doors of the house to admit breezes, birdsong and the scent of flowers, balm for sequestered souls. Gardens prosper, especially in these COVID days when we are confined to home and garden. After months of planning and weeks of planting, gardeners are rewarded with new arrivals and return of the perennials.

Our fellow species thrive. Even those on the wane — the bobwhite quail is one — can be heard in the parks. The bobwhite’s disappearance has been linked to overhunting, which there may not be much of these days. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

These days other realities intrude. Grim news alerts of disease and death flash on my cell phone. Yet another black man has been shot; more deaths from the virus. Peace and beauty falls in shards at my feet.

The buzzing of bees adds a counterpoint to birdsong. Here partridge pea attracts blue-green beauties. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Then once again, when I am out in nature, the pain of the world recedes. Hope re-emerges that one day we will all be one. The world will be at peace. The planet will heal.

Nothing so fine as a summer day.

Dragonflies breed in or near water. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
The sun, still a force to be reckoned with, casts shadows on a canopy road in Osprey. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
Pines and sky are staples of Florida’s summer. Pines have much to offer: shade, protection against hurricanes, and shelter for innumerable species. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
Miami is made festive with Poinciana, a tropical tree planted in the old days. Even back alleys take on a festive air. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri