Photo essay: A summer for the senses!
By Eddee Daniel
If summer has a taste it is ripe black raspberries carefully plucked straight from the bushes next to an oak-shaded trail; if summer has a smell it is the wild aroma wafted on the breeze in a field of August flowers; the sound of summer is the incessant, insistent rasp of cicadas on a sultry afternoon; to touch summer is to feel the heat of it on your skin in a blaze of sunshine; the sights of summer are like the photo album of a never-ending vacation. At least that’s how it feels right up until…, depending upon your circumstances and time of life, either A) the first day of school, B) the leaves on your neighbor’s maple tree turn orange and red, or C) when you change your thermostat from “cool” to “heat.”
In fact, summer provides nearly endless potential to fill all the senses over and over again with an ever-changing cornucopia of delights. The many flavors of summer may begin in June with fresh strawberries, continue into July with plump blueberries and sweet watermelon. August brings luscious cantaloupes and, of course, butter-soaked corn on the cob, preferably picked the same day.
In addition to the week-to-week variations of wildflowers in woodlands, meadows and prairies, the scents of summer run from meats being seared on backyard grills and at picnics in the parks, to the evocative and restful subtlety of decaying needles in a pine forest, along with the ineffable odor of the earth itself on a woodland trail. This year we had the all-too-common scent of browning grass, desiccated by weeks of inadequate rainfall, which seems to have replaced that of freshly mown lawns. I can’t recall using my lawn mower more than twice all summer. And, sadly, there were the periods this summer when, if we ventured out at all against public health advisories, the acrid smell of smoke from wildfires in the distant Canadian wilderness filled our lungs.
The best sounds of summer, for me, are not loud or brash. Quite the contrary, I seek out the quietude of nature. The best sounds of summer are heard in the absence of human invention or intervention, when it is a soft breeze in foliage, the scurrying of some small creature in the underbrush, or unseen birds singing in the canopy of the forest that prevail. Among my favorites summer getaways is kayaking on a river out of sight or sound of civilization, and away from motorboats or Jet Skis. Drifting with the current, hearing only the wind in my ears and soft dipping and dripping of the paddle…, what a lovely summer sound!
What does it mean to touch summer? Sunshine aside, I find its opposite equally compelling: few feelings are as transporting as stepping out of bright sunshine on a hot summer day into the cool shade of a forest canopy—especially one along a river. Then there’s the water itself. Step in the river, jump in a lake, submerse yourself. What other time of year are you going to attempt any of that in Wisconsin?
As for sights, I offer you a selection of them, preserved with my camera, from all over Southeastern Wisconsin. In an ode to the season, I’ve brought together into this one photo essay twenty different places that I’ve visited this summer, which haven’t made it into any other blog posts. One photo is usually an insufficient representation of a place, so if you find yourself curious to know more about any of them feel free to follow the links to learn more and see more.
As I write this, on Labor Day, it still feels very much like summer. Today may be the unofficial end of the season, but I will savor every bit of summer still to come. And then comes my favorite season … after summer. Watch for it.
The featured photo at the top is from South Oak Preserve in West Bend.
Eddee Daniel is a board member of Preserve Our Parks.