The pollen is hanging heavy these days, attracting the gatherers. There's plenty of bees buzzing around, alongside some more unfamiliar sights -- metallic green-gold flies, a black bee with tan breeches, a rain-soaked bee, rain-drop buds, and an admiral in camo and stripped antennas.
Summer means turtles sunning along the millrace, whether on old logs or elsewhere. I was delighted to see the little guy below -- he's only about three inches long, and brings back memories of finding baby turtles around my childhood home, not far from the dam pond. Further along the millrace, the duckweed is apparently thick enough to support turtles this year. But what I really want to know is how that one turtle got to the top of the branch in the next photo.
Then there's the fun of finding frogs sunning themselves on the lilypads at the calendar garden -- and on a recent visit, a baby water snake, not much bigger than the nearby bullfrog. The water snake on the rock was bigger -- but that didn't seem to phase the frogs.
Back in early July, John and I did one of our favorite short summer outings -- a day trip up to South Haven, Michigan. We spent time downtown, having a late breakfast, watching boats and geese in the marina channel, picking up a few books at the secondhand bookstore, and reading on the bluff overlooking the lighthouse.
Then we headed over to Van Buren state park and the public beach. It has some sandy sections, but I head for the stones. So many colors and shapes, and so bright after a wave has washed over them. I pick up stone after stone that catches my eye for one reason or another -- the perfectly egg-shaped rock, the glowing quartz, the fossil, the crystal shining in a small hole. Some I bring home, to use with my groups in prayers with nature objects. Part of me wants to pull out geology books and put names to all the different sorts; mostly I'm content to simply admire all the wondrous diversity of shape and color and texture.
Two weeks ago on Sunday, I had a day to chew on all that I had been learning and receiving in the first week of EMS' Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation. I was up early enough to watch the sun rise. During the morning I sat out on my cousin's patio, watching the play of sunshine and shadow over the rolling hills, while my heart mourned with the community of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and the devastations of generations of racism.
(To get a taste of the sunshine and shadows, watch the slideshow immediately below. These were recorded at 30-60 second intervals. If you're viewing this on a mobile device, you may need to go to the actual website in order to see the series.)
After time with relatives in the afternoon, I returned to the patio at sunset, watching the slow unfurling of clouds on the mountains, and the glow of the setting sun on them. In retrospect, it seems a highly appropriate way to have spent the longest day of the year -- even if I didn't realize it was the summer solstice until I looked at online news late that night.
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.