Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed …
–Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18
At last we’re keeping our long-delayed date with summer.
We’ve been tantalized now and again. Remember those scorching days in early March when you ransacked your closet for July wear? April brought us one or two more signals from summer; we hit 89 on April 16, then zoomed up to 94 the next day. May waited until its last three days to sizzle into the 90s, though we visited the 80s on 10 days.
But Memorial Day weekend, when we lay out the welcome mat for summer, was a throwback. It felt like April, and pools opened to few swimmers over the age of 14. Wherever we saw exposed skin, we saw goosebumps.
Those cooling waters now look more inviting, with temperatures forecast into the 90s through the weekend.
Then, who knows?
Rough winds have certainly shaken the darling buds of May, 2013.
Strawberries hid beneath their leaves and straw bedding for much of the month. Only nine percent of Maryland’s berries have been harvested, in contrast to a five-year average of 43 percent by the end of May.
Of course that means we have weeks of local strawberries still to come, along with asparagus.
Husband Bill Lambrecht and I put in more time making words than we do in the garden, but our small garden is still overwhelming us with lettuce, spinach, herbs and young onions. The garlic is advancing, despite the competition of too much mint.
Verdancy is the word of the season. Beyond the reach of mowers and weeders, Maryland is a green jungle.
Weeds need no cultivation or fertilizer in their rampant drive to enwrap the world. I’ve seen chickweed three feet high on the edges of roads. By the time I got around to weeding a sunny flowerbed, the henbit was a foot tall. Creeping Charlie was vining like kudzu. Poison ivy, Maryland’s state vine, is glorious: fat-leafed, tall, broad and omnipresent.
The vegetable kingdom’s natural disposition is chaos. Only cultivation keeps it at bay. Its advance reminds me that we are poised on the edge of a spinning, fragile planet. Climatic chaos rages around us, and we can’t take a mower to its rampage.
Here in Chesapeake Country we are lucky, so far.
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he ‘s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
Robert Herrick’s poetic advice is as good today as when he offered it four centuries ago, by which time Shakespeare’s sun had set.
Bay Weekly is following it, promising stories for summer — farm, food and fun — in every issue.
This week, please pay special attention to Dennis Doyle’s Sporting Life column on preparing your boat for a safe season on the water. Memorial Day’s fuel explosion on the South River makes a brilliant underscore to Doyle’s point: Accidents happen on the water. Never think it won’t happen to you. It is always wise to be prepared.
On the lighter side, Bay Weekly’s Summer Guide, distributed inside last week’s paper, is a good way to prepare yourself to take your share of all the good times summer has to offer. You’ll need a print copy to plan ahead; events will be posted online only one week at a time. I expect that this week, copies of Summer Guide will be free standing in most Bay Weekly distribution spots. Or stop by our office at 1160 Spa Road, Suite 1a, Annapolis.
Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; firstname.lastname@example.org