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Dog Days

Agriculture.com Staff 08/11/2009 @ 8:25am

We're in the Dog Days, a season for wearing shades while relaxing on the chaise, a time when kids man lemonade stands and free concerts are given by oomph-pa-pa bands.

You know it's high summer when it seems like you are forever digging such things as raspberry seeds or bits of sweet corn silk out of your teeth.

But this is what we lived for during our long and bleak winter. This is why we endured those eight -- no, it was ten! -- months of jaw-clenching cold, clinging to our Gurney's catalogues, staring at the tomato photos in the wan light and mumbling to ourselves, "By gee, if I somehow manage to live through this, I'll never again take summer for granted!"

And here it is, high summer, and we're taking it all for granted.

This is largely due to our overscheduled lives. Summer means running off here to do this, or dashing away there to do that. Does anyone know what time it is? Three-quarters past summer, that's what!

Kids aren't allowed to enjoy summer anymore; they are instead sent off to camps to have their heads filled with highly specialized skills. There are rolle bolle camps and piccolo camps and camps where kids learn all about rutabagas. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there are even camp camps.

It won't be long before we'll be sending kids off to kid camp, where they will be instructed about how to be kids. Wake up, people! This is something that should come as naturally as a dog taking a catnap!

Perhaps one of the best things about summertime is the wide range of aromas. Taking your daily constitutional in the winter is like strolling through a scent environment that most closely resembles a deep freeze.

Summertime presents the perambulator with a palette of perfumes that varies from day to day, and even from one discreet area to the next.

For instance, one might pass a pollinating corn field and be assaulted by the aroma of millions of corn plants making whoopie. Stroll a short ways farther and you may detect the tangy tartness wafting up from a clump of cattails.

And then there are the flora and fauna and fowl. During my walks I often see a pair of American kestrels. They are also known as sparrow hawks, although I can't imagine how birdologists managed to determine what the elfin falcon's views are regarding organized combat.

It's fun to watch them watch me from their perch on the power lines, safe in the supposition that I am too large for even the hungriest and most ambitious kestrel. Sometimes I will see them hovering, hummingbird-like, over a specific spot. This likely means it's lunchtime for the kestrel.

I somehow absorbed the fact that kestrels can see in ultraviolet. This is one of those nuggets of knowledge that has been totally useless up until this very moment.

Anyhow, it seems that mouse and vole urine is visible in ultraviolet. Using their ultraviolet vision, the kestrel can thus determine if lunch has been loitering somewhere down below. This is an example of endlessly escalating measures and countermeasures, one that can only culminate with the deployment of miniature porta-potties by the mice and voles.

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