Summer in Central North Carolina

It is a pretty July 4th morning here in central North Carolina.  The sun is shining and there is an intermittent breeze, and the song of cicadas and birds are prominent in the background.  The dog in the other court is occasionally yelping for what reason, I don’t know.  I will have to break out the sunflower seeds today, and cut back the ligustrum as the branches have grown long enough again for the squirrels to successfully leap onto and decimate the contents of the bird feeders in front of them.  The temperature is not too high and the humidity has not yet set in.

It’s funny how, from early to mid June, the weather was so oppressively hot, humid, and dry.  We went for weeks without any rain at all, temperatures ranging from 99 degrees and up, and the purple petunias in the hanging pot that my mother gave me earlier in the spring suffered when we went away for a short trip, a plight from which they sadly never recovered.  Yet since then, it has been completely unsettled with rainstorms nearly every day.

That is, it seems, North Carolina.  The summers are a constant challenge.  June and July are suffocating.  Any outdoor activity, no matter how minor, must be followed by a shower.  If you’re lucky, there will be adequate rain but sometimes, there are weeks in which there is none.  But when the rain does come, it’s usually in conjunction with a violent storm, spawned by all of that excess humidity.  (It has never made sense to me that the summer swim teams, with their regular Tuesday night meets, have their peak season in June.  It is documented fact that it will storm every single Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m., delaying the meets or forcing a reschedule).

With the rain, there are mosquitos and mushrooms in the garden, and weeds.  And deer who eat your caladiums, and flowers that are one day shriveling from the heat, and the next rotting at the roots from too much water.   My mental state suffers here in June and July, as I am forced to close up my house and max out the air conditioning, closing off the outside world for too long a stretch, and I seriously consider therapy or a trip to anywhere else.  My husband and oldest daughter, who are more attractive to mosquitos than I, cannot stand on the deck for five minutes without being subjected to welts and itching.  By late June, I usually give up, wave the white flag, and retreat to the mall instead of the garden store.  The only good thing about July is the bounty of freestone peaches suddenly available at the farmer’s markets.  The only saving grace are these occasional pretty mornings.

It has been my experience, despite common belief among many of my friends, that by August the humidity seems to abate, and the days become more pleasant.  It is true! The windows can be opened again.  The best pool days happen.  Going out and doing things is not such a chore.  Unlike our northern counterparts, who are having their hottest days, seeing their summer winding down, and preparing for school after a long hiatus, we year-round school lab rats have already settled into the rhythm of our new school year, and are already looking forward to the next break.  Things – the weather and our lives – are settled for a while in August.

So for now, I will plan on taking advantage of the rare weather today and perhaps mow the (weeds) yard, blow the crushed hickory nuts off the driveway and deck for the millionth time, and walk the dog, before heading out to the fireworks in Rolesville later this afternoon if a storm doesn’t pop up and cause them to cancel.

Happy 4th!



Categories: Piedmont Gardener

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