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Your Summer Favorites
July 20, 2009

What an outstanding early October week we just experienced in Michigan.

Temperatures in the mid to low 70's dropping to the mid 60's and cloudy for the weekend.

Yes, a wonderful week for October.

The issue here however, is my calendar still says July.

September and October in July, in the Great Lakes Region.

This is supposed to be the warmest stretch of the year.

We average 83 this time of year, instead we get record lows and the Meteorologists aren't mentioning anything to brag about either (long term).

Oh well, we have to take what nature gives us.

My vegetables are close to a month behind now and I'm sure some of you might be experiencing the same thing (regionally).

I've noticed my annuals are smaller or behind as well.

Why not.................................

Red salvia native to Brazil.

Marigolds and zinnias native to Mexico.

Other summer annuals that come from the Mediterranean region as well as other tropical and sub-tropical regions of the globe.

Plants that may require 80 to 100 degree days to grow.

Some plants thrive in heat and humidity.

Some require dry heat.

Either way you look at it,

It isn't happening around here and it shows.

Spring's songs are fewer now, but that hasn't lessened the bird activity.

More and more parents are busy feeding and caring for fledglings and my yard is no exception.

I cannot recall a summer where I have had so many cardinals coming to feed and train their offspring.

Hopefully this bodes well for winter color in my yard.

Add all the other birds, and I'm going through more seed right now than any time of the year.

Hummers are frequent as well

Not only at feeders, but my four varieties of Monarda (bee balm) are quite showy as well.

As wild creatures, hummers are attracted to nature's offerings first and then our supplements that we attempt to entice them with.

It may not seem that way at times, as your feeders may always be busy.

Every season offers something for us to enjoy or look forward to. As you may know by now, spring is by far my most favorite season or time of the year.

That said, I cannot discount summer.

Autumn's preperations and winter's planning and dreams gives way to spring's working the ground and planting.

Spring also brings new life.

Summer show cases that life in so many ways and one way is the veggie garden.

Vegetable gardens bring forth tasty rewards we think about for much of the year.

Flower gardens bloom and are filled with wildlife, birds, butterflies, other insects, toads, lizards and even a bunny or two dozen.

You may even curse the deer, woodchucks, raccoons and skunks, but summer is here.

Song birds, I enjoy them so, from Blue jays to my little chickadees and everything in between.

I really enjoy the flight of the barn and tree swallows.

The resident Red-tail hawks and their offspring.

Bats flying around at dusk.

Bathing beauties awaken from hibernation (the young bucks as well).

Lake Michigan and the world's largest fresh water sand dunes (some reaching 500' above water) and world class beaches becken.

Longer days.

Coffee or a cold drink on the deck any given evening as I watch and listen to everything around me.

In my youth and into my 40's, there were softball games and even more softball games to play (Karen often said way to many). I would still be playing if my body would allow me to.

Grilling, swimming, fishing, hiking, tanning, relaxing, play time, sweat time, vacation time.

Exploring....looking for little known treasures, natural and man made.

Learning and teaching times are every where, especially with kids around.

Getting yelled at as I teach grand kids the fine art of spitting watermelon seeds and cherry pits.

Realizing that I am making memories for these youngsters and hoping they will pass the skills onto another generation :-)

Summer offers a plethora of activities for you and me.

Some of us even get air we can wear (humidity).

God is good, and he wants us to enjoy his gifts to us (be sure to thank him).

Through my begging and pleading and maybe a twisted arm or two, some of you were eager to share your summer favorites.

Yes, you become the star for the day.

The authors for this week's main body.

Favorites always work well for everyone.

We all enjoy reading about others and we often find some similarities that many of us share , no matter where we live.

Thank you so much for your participation.

You are the ones that make these letters possible.

If you have some ideas on other favorite topics, please let me know............... we'll see what we can do.

Without further ado, I give you

Your favorites.


Lou in New Jersey:

My favorite time of year is Spring but not much of one this year with all the rain and cool weather.

I am not a fan of high heat and humidity. It makes me want to stay indoors(AC) to keep cool. I try not to waste any time though, so I utilize my local bookstores (Borders and B/Noble) since there is always good reading material on gardening,nature, home projects etc. That is very relaxing to me. When the temps.are at a tolerable level I love just relaxing in my lounge chair and observing the birds and wildlife because it is very educational to me and enjoyable also.

I just enjoy putting around the outdoors, finding any little project, whether it be trimming shrubs, trees, painting, cleaning siding, whatever I can find. I also like to ride my bike around to see what other people have done to their home and garden as well. You can never get enough ideas. This year I changed pace instead of buying and planting annuals I did a wildflower garden and it is turning out fabulous. I can't tell yet what some of the flowers are since some are not in bloom yet, but they are growing fast and furious. Of course purple cone flowers are just coming into bloom along with Shasta daisies. There are some yellow flowers that look like mini Shastas that may be tick-weed. Lots of small little purple and pink flowers that I've yet to identify. The only annuals I have are purple petunias in containers at both ends of the garden to go along with the yellow flowers.

Besides gardens, Lou also has his wildlife to enjoy.

I have had an explosion of house wrens this year. Actually I lucked out this year since I had a brood of chickadees before the HOWR showed up. This has been one of the best years in several for observing baby birds at the feeders. These are the babies I've seen so far. Red belly pecker, chickadees, titmice, downies, cardinals, grackles, many robins and tons of house finches. I've had a pair of tree sparrows around but no babies yet. I've had a pair of goldies coming around also. But, babies will not be for awhile yet.

Wildlife is no exception. Several baby cottontails, young squirrels, many chipmunks a lonely groundhog that likes my backyard brush pile. I've noticed a marked increase of honey bees this year which is great news since for several years they seemed to be declining. I was going to set up a mason bee box this year but haven't got around to doing it. This has been an exceptionally rainy spring which has been good for the trees, flowers and lawns.

Lou, as I, the heat becomes an issue for me as well. This has been a cooler year and the AC has only been on a few times.

Isn't it great to be blessed with all the birds and wildlife. Keep an eye on that Groundhog (woodchuck), they'll eat just about anything you grow.

Stacey in Ft Wayne, Indiana:

I'm more of a spring/early summer person hope that still counts.

My favorite things are when all my pretties start to bloom,the garden centers open, all the baby birds and animals (which I have had a lot of this year). Being able to have the windows open to smell everything and hear the birds sing nice steady rains (So I don't have to water). Taking pics of all my pretties and sharing them with my friends on the forums and my fun rounds off at "Blinky" season..just before it becomes Cicada season (I don't do the heat as well anymore).

Stacey, Your time of year is my time of year. There are so many things to enjoy and do.

Watch out for some of those smells, I grew up in farm country and that isn't a nice smell (especially ripe chicken stuff).

Paulette in Pleasant View, Tennessee:

I enjoy getting up just before dawn, opening the doors and windows so that I can listen to the birds singing their "good morning" tunes. It is a great time to drink a cup of coffee and appreciate the abundance of gifts God has given us; such as the beautiful earth, its streams, natural habitats, wildlife; our families, homes, careers; and our freedom to enjoy all of these things to the fullest.

Very well said Paulette, I too enjoy the morning tunes. We must remember God's gifts and goodness.

Harv in Sterling Heights, Michigan:

Having six grown kids and eight grand kids makes summer pretty special by itself. We put an in-ground pool in the yard 12 years ago and it has kept the kids and grand kids close. A year ago we added a water slide to the kid-friendly pool, and this has doubled the action and made for some great family and friend get togethers in the yard. Whenever I think about the most favorite things of Summer, the good times around the old "cement pond" comes up first. Living in Michigan, our two favorite seasons are Spring and Summer because of the fun we have in the backyard. God Bless those lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer.

Watching a new generation of squirrels, cardinals, robins, and bunnies exploring the world for the first time. An unannounced, fleeting visit from a hummingbird that never stays quite long enough. The first vine ripened tomato, and even the FIRST zucchini (certainly not to be the last). Having an early morning breakfast with the wife out in the gazebo. Listening to the ballgame while outside reading a book. Watching the grand kids play their first baseball game. Fireworks shows with the grand kids. Watermelon. Fresh sweet corn. There can be no end to the many joys of Summer

Harv, you definitely have a handle on life and summer. from family to Zucchini. What time is the next party, I need to clear my calender?

Do you miss the voice and stories of Ernie Harwell?

I sure do.

Sue from Montgomery, Michigan:

I love summer evenings when it starts to cool down and the crickets are chirping, and in late summer the locusts are loud in the trees. I love sitting on the porch w/ a glass of iced tea and a cool breeze and maybe a good book. The hummers always take a stand against all comers around their feeders. There's plenty for everyone, but they all want to own the entire feeder.

The sounds and smells at the beach have always fascinated me. That fishy, lakey smell w/ the waves lapping at your feet. Watching the birds bring their young to the feeders and showing them how to crack the sunflower seeds. Watching the doe w/ their fawns, frequently twins, still reddish/brown and spotted, always alert for any danger. Watching thunder heads coming in from the west, looking wicked w/strikes of lightning and the distant rumble of thunder. And I love a good soaking rain especially after a couple weeks of drought-like conditions.

And some days, all I really enjoy is going in the house, cranking up the A.C. and waiting out the heat wave.

Sue, you make me wish for summer right now :-)

If I didn't have the same things around here, I'd move to Michigan.

Wait a minute............. I'm in Michigan.

Sandy in Leelanau County, Michigan:

A few random thoughts about Memorable Summer Moments…

The first Monarch…or Purple…or Swallowtail…or Fritillary….Or???

Orange Cosmos

Blue Delphinium

The upcoming Summer Show of Coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans

The first red Tomato!

Making home made Salsa with stuff from the garden

Swallowtail caterpillars on my carrots

A WARM summer rain (still waiting for that!)

Birdie babies

The US Navy Blue Angels when they visit us every other year here

Tall purple Phlox

Summer campfire with friends

Paddle-boating on the lake

The call of Barred Owls at 3:00 AM

NOT shoveling snow!!!

A wonderful list Sandy.

I'm still waiting for that warm summer rain as well.

Living in part of God's country, do you ever get bored?

Joanne in Central New York:

My favorite things about summer:

No snow to shovel!!, No boots, gloves, heavy coats, or ear muffs!

More birds to watch, more flowers to see and smell, more soft summer breezes to catch, more daylight!

Joanne, I too enjoy the longer days, to bad they are shrinking now. The flowers and wildlife. .... can't beat it can you?

Not to mention we have air you can wear.

Marie in Lake Ontario, New York:

It is hard to find one or even two favorite things about summer -- I love it all. However, I really enjoy feeding the all birds and watching them as they raise their young. I love all the birds but find the song of the Goldfinch very beautiful and in a sense it is calming to listen to. The finch bags are generally totally covered with these pretty yellow birds, and the seed feeders, along with the Hummingbird feeders are always busy too.

It is fun to watch the Nuthatches and Woodpeckers scoot up and down the trees and chit chat as they go. Marie, isn't it wonderful................ the calming effect birds can have on us.

I too enjoy my birds everyday.... life would be boring without them.

Sandy from Albion,New York:

The best things about summer is just being outside.

I love hearing the birds chirping and the Humming bird come to the feeder. Just had the baby Barn Swallows leave the nest. I got to say good-bye to them. Pretty awesome to watch them. I had baby Bluebirds but the House Wrens decided to build a nest right on top of them. I'm still upset about that.

I love gardening and watching everything grow. You can see and hear all kinds of things when your outside. Something always catches my attention. It's been rather cool and rainy here not our typical summer. The kids and I like to ride bikes or go for walks after dinner. We see alot of deer and their babies and pick wildflowers.

Sandy, you are so right, there is always something to catch our eyes, we only need to keep them open.

Isn't it special to watch birds fledge, we don't see that often enough and yes, wrens will be wrens.

Leslie in South Carolina:

In recent years my favorite summer fun has been "sweeping" the large groups of grandaddy long legs off the back of the house. As they land on the deck or ground, hundreds of legs begin moving in different directions, reminiscent of a creepy spider movie. My grandson squeals with delight and tries to catch a few before they find their way back to the wall.

We watch them climb to their spot high above and congregate into a ball. And then the fun starts again with just a sweep of the broom.

Leslie, isn't it wonderful that simple things can make us happy, we don't need TV and fancy toys all the time.

Grandkids are always a blessing for sure.

Molly in Middle Peninsula, Virginia:

OK, you asked for my favorite things about summer:

The first ripe tomato.

Watching the fireflies.

That first ripe ear of sweet corn.

Watching my granddaughter swim.

Laying on my back in the pool and watching the clouds go by, yes I can even see images in some. Molly, you have time to float in the pool?

Ripe veggies, Just starting to get some summer squash here as everything is behind do to a cool summer.

I hope you have a couple of plates full for me.

Lisa from Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada:

My favorite thing starts at the beginning of spring and goes right through til late fall...I love to watch the birds come back and then with their young and some without mates or with a new mate..they have become family to us. I wait every week til after dinner and sit out at dusk and wait for the hummers to come back .

I have 2 pairs that come year after year. We also have 2 pairs of woodpeckers and sadly one lost a mate this year she needs a husband she is alone but still not far from the other couple. There is no better way to take stress off from a lousy day then to watch out feathered friends...this year I tried really hard to plant new flowers for our birds and butterflys to enjoy.

We have added a turtle to our pond and she adores being out there and is thrieving! My only down fall this summer is a "teenage" raccoon she is living somewhere very very close and has taken our back yard as her playground and our dog doesn't like it one bit...she is not causing any harm to our trash but will lay in our big Ole tree and watch everything...there are no others that I see and I fear having her removed may leave babies somewhere so I will wait the season out then see if we can safely have her rehomed.

As dull as it may sound I look forward to watching the changes in the garden and the birds all summer long.

Lisa, there is nothing boring about watching and enjoying birds, as it is one of my favorite past times as well.

Watch out, where there is one raccoon, there are bound to be more.

Christa from Central South Dakota:

I love the summer days, sitting out on the patio and listen and watch all the birds on the feeders and the birdbath. So far not very manny Butterfleys this year. I could sit out there all day every day as there is always something going on. Blue Jays and Robins going after each other , some fledglings still wanting to be fed. Woodpeckers stealing sunflowers out of the globe feeder if I let the suet feeder go empty.

We have a nice big yard so lots of Birds & Squirrels to watch. My favorate time is going out on the deck for breakfast to start the day, lots of trees for shade & bushes for the Birds.

I enjoy the scenery of all the green & flowers blooming.

Christa, summer offers many things doesn't it?

All the bird action and yes, robins will chase the jays as they are a threat to robin eggs and babies.

Hopefully butterfly action will pick up for you soon.

Mary from Wakeman, Ohio:

I Love, Love, Love, Summer! Everything about it..Mostly, the Warm,,or even Hot Weather....I Love, to lay out in the sun,,in the nude...I love a whole body tan...I hate clothes..I Love my gardens,, and my WEEDS ! Never Ending Weeds..........I Love , to go into my garden and eat raw peas off the vine..They are soo ,,good...

I Love to sit outside at night and look at the stars in the sky...So Beautiful,,I Love , to watch the birds at the feeder,,and at there nesting boxes...I Love, to watch my baby chicks grow..they are so cute...I Love,, to see my Grandbaby,,His first Birthday is coming up on the 30th of July..

I Love My Family,and where I live,I am at peace here.

Well Mary, there hasn't been a whole lot of hot up here to talk about. I'm stuck with tan lines, but I could enjoy some freedom myself :-)

Take care of your new grand son and bring him up the nature loving way.

Marti of Lake Milton, Ohio:

I love seeing new birds in the summer. Taking fishing boat rides in the afternoon-very relaxing, get to see things along the shore that we can't see on the bigger boat Seeing all the pretty flowers everywhere. I think my favorite is seeing my grandson, who has been swimming since 3, self taught, now 6 doing forward flips into the pool over the 4th. I love to watch him swim-he just amazes me.

I also enjoy when people come over and enjoy what we have- either fishing, boating, tubing, swimming or playing horseshoes or cornhole games. Here in Ohio we have to enjoy the nice days, pack in all we can do, come October the pool gets closed up, boat comes out and we know the rest. I just love being outside-

Good job Marti..................... I love the out of doors as well. To much to see and do, life is to short to let it pass us by.

I need to make plans to visit one of these years.

Judy from Northeast Ohio:

My fav summer things.....frogs arriving in my watergarden and feeding them japanese beetles, freshly mowed grass, barefeet, tank tops and shorts, suntea, cool dips in the water, corn on the cob with butter dripping down to your elbows, watermelon dripping down your arms, fireflies, walks at the Secrest Arboretum, summer thunderstorms, daylight til 10 pm, opening all the windows in the car and feeling the breeze, all the blooming goodies, butterflies, hummingbirds, wildlife soooo close you could touch them, dragonflies, the night sounds of crickets, nighthawks, owls, sleeping with the windows open and hearing the lonesome sound of a faraway train.

OK I'll stop now and I could probably write a book!

Whew Judy,............ I had to stop to catch my breath, that is some list and I suppose a truncated version works.

No watermelon seed fights? Every kid should learn how to spit watermelon seeds.

Shirley of Gorham, Maine:

I wait all winter to sit on my porch and watch the birds bathe in the fountain,chirping and singing in the woods, smelling all my flowers in the air and rocking and dreaming. The birdhouse in the front garden is always occupied and is just a few feet from the porch.

We always have a family of chipmunks under the fountain. Our butterflies are few but I love them.It's wonderful to watch our bird cam pics at night after they've all tucked in. Two of the hummingbird feeders are at the front of the porch and we have to dodge them every few minutes.

We have a very busy yard and we take advantage of it.

Amen Shirley, Northern folk do have long waits and we must enjoy while we have the chance.

Your busy Maine yard sounds like a joy to be in and around.

Is there a lobster pot warming up as well?

Judy fron Clio, Michigan:

My favorite things about summer? What isn't a favorite?

The baby birds flying among the trees while learning to come to the various feeding stations in our yard. Sunny, breezy hours of sitting back in the yard on the swing while we watch the clouds roll over and the birds visit our feeding stations.

Often sitting on the back deck, under the canopy of our maple tree, watching the birds come within an arm's length to feed or bathe. Turning on the sprinklers on hot, sunny days so the birds can fly through the spray, often leafing on the trees.

We have put several cheap Frisbees in my biggest flower bed and keep them filled with water. It is so much fun to turn on the sprinkler and watch a family of Orioles bathe together in one of those frisbees. We also keep one Frisbee half full of water and tilted so the insects can come in and float about, knowing they have a safe way out of the water.

The anticipation of the first fledgling Baltimore Orioles, Robins, Cardinals, Ruby throat hummingbirds, Chickadees, both species of nuthatches, as well as the baby Tufted Titmouses,

The first bird taking the first bath in the bird baths scattered around our yards, Putting the last plant into the gardens and waiting anxiously for the first bloom or the first cherry tomato. The tree frog which resides in our barbecue grill when we are not using it. Not everyone has to bang on their grill before lighting.

The first spotting of a lightening bug and the many nights watching them flitter about the dark yard. A few hours spent watching a fire in our outdoor firepit, and last but not least, the rich, sweet, memory filled taste of a S'more which was made from one of those fires. S'mores, Judy brings back the kid in all of us.

I must admit, I run the sprinklers at times, just for the birds, the cardinals love a good leaf bath.

You have some wonderful sanctuaries and preserves in your part of the state.

Birds rule.

Steve from Wilkesboro, North Carolina:

Summer is by far my favorite time of year. Birds are nesting and feeding their young. Gardens are producing and reminding me why I don't buy store bought tomatoes. Those first squash and cucumbers are tasty. Flowers are in full bloom and the hummingbirds are visiting their favorites. Being able to go outside with first grabbing a coat. Running at the local green way and happening to notice the gals with those nice short shorts and skimpy tops.

And lets not forget the wild black berries. They are much better than anything any grocery store sells but when picking them be sure to watch for snakes and yellow jacket nest. Summer never last long enough and before we know it the horrors of winter will be back.

I agree Steve, nothing beats home grown fruits and veggies. There is something special about picking something you grew and cared for.

Short, shorts............ We can't help it ladies.

Horrors of winter?...... I'll trade you one winter Steve:-)

I'll end summer favorites with what I believe to be my youngest reader and why we need to share, preserve and teach about wildlife.

A big reason on why I do what I do and love it.

Alex from New Jersey writes:

I am 10 years old. My teacher likes to say I am her 74 year old man because I write like one and it makes her cry sometimes. I am not going to do that here however. Just going to write like a 10 year old on summer break.

Some of my favorite things are:

Birdwatching and feeding them with my many bird feeders.

Hand feeding the chipmunk in grandma's yard.

Being with my grandparents a few extra hours in the summer. Best thing to do there is build my model train village each friday.

This year a specail happening will be our trip to Disney (Mom, Dad, little sister and older brother)

We go fishing and canoeing

This summer I am taking art lessons. Like to sketch things birds, old cars, and flowers.

Like to go to old car shows. There is one each Wed night. Also might get to help a friends friend work on his old car sometime.

I enjoy things about the civil war and got to be a union solider for the day a few weeks ago. Last year we went to Gettysburg for vacation. Use to have a camp of civil war people but our town canceled it due to cost.

I will be in the 5th grade come Sept . I am a straight A student and enjoy school a lot.

Thank you so much for sharing Alex.

God Bless you Alex.

I have seen pictures of Alex feeding his chipmunk.

Alex, I believe you can be and do anything you set your mind to. You are blessed to have wonderful parents and grand parents.

I hope and pray you continue to love and enjoy God's natural world around you. His CREATIONS are gifts for all of us to enjoy and learn from.

Before you know it, your generation will be taking charge and I believe you will be a good steward my young friend.

There you have ladies and gentleman.

Summer favorites from you the guest and stars for the day.

There are so many things to enjoy about summer and all the seasons if you look around you.

Summers offer so much for us and the wild kingdom.

Though many of us have different favorites, most of us have very common ones, like birds, gardens and harvests.

We enjoy getting out and playing or watching younger people play the games we once did so well.

Spring is my favorite time of year, because it brings new life.

Summer brings fun for so many.

I hope you enjoyed reading about your self and others much like you in many ways.

I enjoy doing favorites and hopefully next time around we will get some new entries from some of our shy readers.

I will be gone from Thursday to Sunday, as Karen and I go for our yearly Bed and Breakfast (Gingerbread House) get away in Petoskey, Michigan.

We've been going to the same place (and same owner) for the past 17 years and we love it.

We love the area and all the small towns. I enjoy the scenery and nature, she enjoys the shops.

There is something special about Northwest Michigan.

Yolanda will have a respit time at Hope Network.

Don't panic if I don't answer mail for a few days.

Lord willing, I'll be back at it when we get back home.

Well, it's time to fly.

Once again, thank you for sharing and participating, you are the greatest readers and friends around.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, and this you will become.

James Lane Allen (1849-1925) American Author

This is an easy one.

What you think about most of the time, you become.

Or it becomes you.

Are your thoughts and visions positive or are the negative?

Are your ideals pure or are you looking for the easy way.

How does that saying go...........................

It's not what you think you are, It's ' What You Think,'..... you are.

You become the person you think you should be.

Honesty, integridy, ideals, your path in life.

Bad attitude, poor thoughts, bad habits and so on.

You choose your path.

No more excuses.

No more blaming others.

You choose.

Build a good life.

Build a bad life.


Sure it is.

As soon as you decide your walk or path in life and stick to it.

You can do this no matter your stage in life.

You can coach and teach others to walk with ideals.

Young people like Alex can be what he wants to be as long as he believes it and has people around him to help him.

Start today if you haven't already.

Simple steps start with that first step.

That first step could be a smile and good will.

Smiles start to grow and add more to your life and those around you.

God wants you to be the best you, you can be, but he wont force it, but he can help you if you ask.

Read the quote again and study it my friend.

Start today, you can do it, I know you can.

Until next time.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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