As we roll into August, we also roll into the last portion of the summer. This is often a point at which one wants to look back over the season at what’s been done, and check that against what one would still like to do before the season runs out.
Unlike most years, tho, I suspect most of us have a longer list of unchecked items than usual. While we’ve only had a scant few days of scorching heat (and it has been only a few - while the weather reporters churned up much storm und drang over it, it was less than a week), the sheer volume of rain at the beginning of the season, persisting across most of June and into July, really put a damper on the opportunity for outdoor activity.
This isn’t just my perspective. In the last week of June MLW and I went out exploring in Utica, spending a little time doing some wine tasting at the Illinois River Winery and then having dinner at Ron’s Cajun Connection. The folks at the Winery tasting room were talking about traffic being down for the season. And this makes sense - much of the activity in the area is based in Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks, the I&M Canal Trail, and/or on the Illinois River. At that point large chunks of all of those things were either under water, or were the water other things were under. And I can verify that the soggy state of affairs persisted two weeks later along parts of the canal trail.
Back at the Homestead, where we have our house on the hill, things have been a bit dryer, but the effects of the rain have still been present. In particular, while the farmers have been hampered in their ability to plant crops, the local insect population has been working overtime. This means that, even in places where things are otherwise high and dry, attempts to spend time outside have been impinged upon by fleets of insect predators. My uncle’s brother’s cousin told me that he actually saw a small child get carried off by a swarm of mosquitos...
I don’t usually tend to grouse here, and if there’s a message that I’m trying to get to (seems like there should be, right?), it’s that there is still summer left to enjoy. Since I prefer exercising out of doors, I’ve spent a fair amount of time out and about even in the misery of this frankly inadequate season. I can verify for you that, over the past couple of weeks the squadrons of biting flies and needle-nosed exsanguinators seems to be paring back to a dull drone. It’s been at least a month since I’ve ridden thru a fog of gnats (a fine source of protein, let me tell you), so now is the opportunity to make up for lost time.
I’ll see ya out there!