Midsummer, Fleas and Birdsong

Usually people think of the middle of summer to be the Fourth of July, it being the only holiday between the two long weekends of Veteran’s Day and Labor Day. There is sort of a building up to the climax that we do, an opening up that feels like freedom. It is rather intense here in Minnesota where our warm days are so precious. After the Fourth, a small dread sets in as there is a descent toward the end.

But the fourth of July is not really midpoint between the two holidays. This year, it is July 15. Honoring the actual middle makes the crescendo of the first half longer last longer. The climax is rather disappointing, however – it is rather ordinary compared to the parades and fireworks of the 4th.  For children, the midpoint would shift depending on the last day of the school year and the beginning of the next.

The real middle of summer is the midpoint between the two solstices, August 5. That would make the crescendo even longer.

What a strange use of my brain this morning.

Here at the Minnesota Northwoods Writer’s Conference, the participants were treated to poet Camille Dungy read last night. For me listening to poets read their work is far better than reading poetry, except that in reading, I can always go back to chew on the words and phrases that I find especially interesting. What struck me last night was not the quality of her work, though it was quite extraordinary, but Dungy’s amazing curiosity. She said she’d written a poem about a tick that is killing the penguins in the arctic. The cold used to wipe them out each year but now, with global warming, they are able to live to do their harm.

This is the kind of curiosity I have. My husband remembers that on our first date I told him what I had learned in biology about the sex life of worms. He should have taken that as warning not to pursue me any further, I suppose.

My interest in what should be considered the actual middle of summer is my current curiosity. Another involves the song of a bird that visits the feeders in our yard. My grandson and I have had many conversations about this bird. While we have found a possible match in my Audubon bird dictionary, the song is not included on my CD of Minnesota bird songs. This is gnawing at me. Charlie has learned to imitate the bird’s song. I think what I might do is take him to the bird store in St. Cloud where he can sing to the store’s owner. When we find out it will be like the proverbial maiden who found her lost pearl.