What We Love About Summer!

Winding Pathways asked for reader submissions on what they love about summer and here is what folks shared. 

Dan P was the first. with this short, pithy remark: “Summer = it’s not cold ;)”  

And here is the back story on that. As a kid and teen until his Junior year in high school, Dan delivered first the Penny Saver and then the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  Every day all year round.  Only a few times, when we did our annual Black Hills vacation, did he get a substitute.  So, he was up before dawn, bagged and banded papers and walked his route.  Then, he’d come back and go to bed, or head off to early bird classes at Washington H.S. On really bitter winter days Rich went with him to get the route done safely and more quickly. He has always been a hard and reliable worker with the mantra:  “Show up. Work hard. Be honest. Be nice.”

Here is a picture in winter 1994. And a recent photo. So now you know what Dan loves about summer.

Daddy Sunflower

Giant Sunflower

Jan Watkins added this amazing picture of the “Daddy Sunflower” in her yard and how it came to be.  “I have never raised sunflowers, so last year when a sunflower appeared in this location, I was delighted. It seemed so special there on the ledge. Not really looking into the sun, but rather it seemed, it was looking in at me. It was fun to see the goldfinches feasting on the seeds. This year, I’ve watched the sunflower grow and bloom in the same place as last (year), again facing into my house. It makes me think of Roy. He lived in Kansas for years, the Sunflower State. Its leaves have ruffled edges, a big flower on a short, strong stalk, different from the others.  Definitely special. I have to smile.  I love it.”



From Joye Winey: “The best part of summer is Saturday Morning Market. From early summer with jackets and jeans to midsummer with short and flip flops. From greens, rhubarb, peas, to melons, zucchini, tomatoes, corn eggplants and sunflowers— A great way to start the day. :)”

From Rebecca Groff:                                   “A Peaceful Iowa Morning”

“The lack of any human noise outside my bedroom window greeted me on an early August morning, and the Universe’s message was clear: preserve this special moment. So I grabbed my camera to capture the sights and sounds on our acreage, which happens to be my favorite kind of church.

“Outside, sparrows and mourning doves took breakfast at the bird feeder in among a stand of white pines as I strolled around the yard videoing this peaceful Iowa morning. A capiz shell wind chime jingled softly in the background.

“It was too early for butterfly activity, but just right for the small rabbit that darted out from the butterfly garden, having finished off most of the young delphinium I’d planted in my butterfly garden this past spring. Ah, well. There is a bit left and maybe it will come back. I know bunnies need to eat, too. (Sigh . . . . ) At one time I’d considered seeding that spot over to make it easier to mow, but then the idea came to plant it solely for the butterflies and other pollinators, and I’m glad I went with that decision. Pink and purple phlox, native purple coneflowers, various lilies, Japanese iris, gaillardia, coreopsis and bee balm in red and pink have been well received so far this summer.

“Were someone to offer me a tranquilizing pill, or a chance to be outside working in my yard, hands and nails filthy with soil, the dirt work would win every time. “Dirt therapy,” my sister and I call it. We both agree it can soothe the roughest emotion days.

“In front of our house I established a circular butterfly garden. This year I filled it with pink and white cosmos, coreopsis, nasturtiums, and zinnias to keep company with the two tomato plants I set out — one red and one yellow. Just enough for us and for sharing with our neighbors.

“The acidic smell of tomato plant green is one I never tire of and I couldn’t resist rubbing the tender leaves between my fingers. There was a B-L-T sandwich coming my way in the near future!

“The sun was edging higher in the sky, and the sound of traffic on the main road a mile away was starting to pick up. Soon there would be lawn mowers whirring, and kids bursting outdoors to play and the weekend busyness of humanity all about the neighborhood.

“But for a few minutes, I had the best spot in the Universe all to myself, surrounded only by trees, flowers, birdsong and fresh dew on the tips of my toes.”

Susan F in Arizona wrote: “Weather is easing back from triple digit temperatures to upper nineties.  And we have had a bit of humidity the past week or so.  Of course our humidity is nothing like what happens out east.  Humidity was in the 50’s this week.  The monsoon rains have been causing quite a bit of flooding but it has been spotty.  All depends on the terrain what kind you get, flash floods in the hill country or just high water on flat land.  Canals and runoff ditches help in the larger cities, but there is no decent drainage system to keep streets (from) flooding.


Finches fun to watch.

“I still enjoy my birds.  I continue to get sparrows, finches, hummingbirds and Quail families.  I have watched the baby quail grow from tiny babies (no bigger than a silver dollar) to toddlers, preteens, to teenagers.  Right now the oldest of this year’s babies have color patterns which have helped ID them by sex.  I know I have three male teenagers.  The next batch coming along is almost to that stage and the littler ones are developing the topknots on their heads.  Sometimes I have all three age groups, other times only the oldest three come alone with no parents to escort.  The younger ones come with their parents still.  Fun to watch.  I also have a curve-billed thrasher that spends more and more time each day by the food block.  It especially likes mornings and late afternoon.”


Jackie and Peter Hull in Virginia take in the back roads with these observations: “On a pristine day with not a cloud in the skies we often begin a journey northwest to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is here that we can see for miles to the north, south, east and west. Looking westward over the Great Valley we can view the Allegheny Mountains stretching clear to West Virginia. We marvel that the pioneers were able to cross the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains on foot, horseback and rafts down the multiple rivers and streams to settle the country centuries ago. Enjoy our country and love it!”

Virginia Mountains

Clouds over mountains

And another observation from Virginia: “Tuesday we had some intense storms here in Bedford,
Virginia. As I looked out the French door windows, I could see some nasty clouds slowly slipping over the mountains. For a while nothing happened. I turned away to fold some clothes. As I moved back into the living room, I was startled to see a grey white cloud had completely enshrouded the
western mountains. At first I was perplexed. Then I whispered, “Oh, my gosh.” I could hear the rain pounding as this cloud  steadily moved closer to us.

“The trees disappeared as did the silo and then the house next door became a blur. All at once the rain was pounding on the roof and I could hardly see my vegetable garden. Passing slowly over my house the rain continued eastward obstructing the eastern view of Turkey Mountain. After all was said and done, we had two inches of rain in a short time frame.”

Jan Watkin’s Sunflower

Jan Watkins' Sunflower

A sweet tribute to summer.

A short note from Jan Watkins about her summer companion.
“This lone sunflower volunteered to be in my garden. It looks in at me and makes me smile each day. It’s the little things. The special thing about this flower besides choosing my garden in which to bloom, is that it’s not even looking at the sun. It looks in at me!! Now that’s sweet!”

Thanks, Jan, for sharing on Winding Pathways!


Hot moist weather is a boon to crabgrass. This European native was brought to America centuries ago and is a hated lawn and garden weed.

Crabgrass is an annual that sprouts as soon as moist soil reaches about 60 degrees. It dies at first frost but not before producing thousands of seeds that persist in the soil a long time waiting for proper growing conditions. Rapidly growing crabgrass can quickly overwhelm a vegetable garden or make a lawn look splotchy.

Crabgrass grows close to the ground. When its nodes touch the soil they quickly take root, enabling the plant to rapidly expand outward. Homeowners seeking the perfect lawn ironically create perfect growing conditions for the weed. Because it hugs the ground close mowing stresses desirable grass species while favoring prostrate crabgrass. Shallow watering also helps the shallow rooted annual.

Crabgrass comes with benefits. It reduces erosion by quickly covering bare soil, and many species of domestic livestock and wildlife enjoy munching its leaves. Some wild animals enjoy its plentiful seeds.

Herbicides can reduce crabgrass abundance but it’s virtually impossible to eliminate it from a lawn or garden. Hand pulling will keep it away from tomatoes and beans, and setting the mower higher may reduce its lawn abundance.

When you find crabgrass in your yard consider this: Crabgrass is like Mother Nature’s stitches. Severely cut your hand or leg and the doctor will hold the wound closed with stitches. When homeowners bare the soil, they make it vulnerable to erosion. Think opening a wound. Enter crabgrass. It grows amazingly fast on bare soil and keeps it in place during heavy rains. Crabgrass has its place in nature, and we should all appreciate those plants able to quickly colonize and stabilize soil.