Green is the prevailing color in June. All of the trees have leafed out, the encroaching comfrey and day lilies have grown green, tall and wide and we are mowing the grass often. Tulips are gone, lilacs have ceased to spread their fragrance but the peonies are opening into ruffled aromatic blossoms. The birds are quieter now, busy with their nests and nestlings. Corn is being planted and hay fields are being mown or chopped; an aroma that brings back all sorts of memories. My brother bought a baler that made smaller, cylindrical bales so that a house-hold of daughters and one younger sister could help with the hay. While I didn’t cherish the job when I was sixteen, to this day, mown hay is a fragrance that I breathe in deeply and appreciatively. A June day with blue skies and sunshine is what most people refer to as being the “perfect” day and it is also an ideal kind of day for making hay.
As for special days in June, there’s Flag Day on June 14th and Father’s Day, this year on June 17th. Flag Day was emphasized more in my growing up days than now, and many of us may still be able to recite part of Henry Holcomb Bennett’s* poem, “Hats off! The flag is passing by.” There’s plenty of controversy around the flag right now; we all need to remember that it is an icon not an idol, two quite different things. Father’s Day is a very old tradition in Europe, celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th). The Spanish and Portuguese brought this custom to Latin America and it eventually was adopted in the US. It was first celebrated in 1910 in Washington state, and eventually put on the third Sunday in June for all states. It is a time to appreciate not only actual fathers but also the caring people who provide father figures for those who need them.
I haven’t often written about my father, perhaps because his too-early death came just about the time we could have related as adults. In my junior-hi and high school years, my father and I experienced a certain amount of tension. He was fine at math and sciences, and had no clue why his youngest child wasn’t. This created mutual frustration! Many years earlier, he worked hard to get school buses for our centralized school, and so saw no reason why I’d want to ride in anything else. And he was considerably more authoritarian than my maturing sensibilities liked. I think this was probably true for many fathers of that era. However, he was also a person of integrity who wouldn’t consider doing anything in a dishonest or slovenly manner. He advocated for good schools, feeling that the education not available to him was essential for his children. He had a respect and love for the land; I remember walking with him as he hand-scattered seed in the fields and explained which seed was for where. And he cared deeply for his family. He insisted on good manners, on relating to people respectfully, and on doing one’s best ---- and a bit more. He was easily irritated a tendency that, unfortunately, he passed on to me and a couple of his other offspring. My husband insists that irritability is a genetic line that runs through my family……. prickly, he calls us. ☺ It’s just that we tend not to suffer foolishness patiently, and certainly not gladly. On this Father’s Day, I will be remembering my father as someone who would play Candy Land or Chinese checkers with small children, who purchased two Easter dresses for me when I was ten years old because I couldn’t decide which one I liked best, and who thoroughly enjoyed seeing his house full of family whenever possible. I wish I’d expressed my appreciation to him more often.
For some reason, deeply buried in my subconscious, June often puts me into a state of nostalgia. I pour over scrapbooks and yearn for family gatherings and luncheons with friends. I may make more phone calls just to stay in touch. I find myself suddenly wishing for home ------ but which one? Where I now live and have lived for nearly 40 years and am deeply rooted in community? Our Pennsylvania home where both children were born and where we lived for ten years while acquiring a wonderful group of friends who we then had to leave? Or the home where I grew up, a farm house surrounded by stately trees and wide gardens with Guernsey cows in the fields (hopefully not in the gardens) and acres to roam?
Where do you consider “home”? Everyone has their own vision. For some, it is the rolling green hills of Vermont or upstate New York. For others it is looking out over the ridges and hollows of the mountains that run like a spine down through Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky; blue and smoky. Still others long for the wide sweeps of corn, wheat and sunflower fields of the mid-west or the tall, snow-capped mountains of Colorado and Wyoming ---- or the wide blue skies of Montana where one can see for miles and miles. And there are those who pine for the ocean of either coast. What we see and cherish is often a matter of perspective linked to the experiences we’ve had in those places.
In the home where I grew up, near Rochester, I experienced small town warmth via family, church, school and the Grange. I learned leadership skills in 4-H and I loved the farm (well --- maybe not the chickens!!) with its fields and woods. Then, as a young married couple, we lived in Pennsylvania and I remember ice cream socials, wonderful 4-H volunteers, church retreats, ladies’ Bible study, our toddlers’ wall-to-wall toys, and parties in our summer kitchen with the walk-in fire place. Here, in Spencer, where we’ve resided for the most years, we experience a community that seems to have accepted us for who we are, even when they think we are slightly odd. Our sons spent most of their being-educated years at S-VE; it is a small enough school so that we knew their teachers and felt welcome there. One didn’t have to worry too much about kids in trouble because someone would be sure to tell you if they were on the roof, hanging from the catwalks or out of line in any way. We continue to find fellowship, friends who truly care and opportunity to grow in our faith and understanding of the world here.
Think about your home; its blessings, your experiences, what has made you love it. A little nostalgia is, on occasion, a good thing, as are thoughts of what makes a real home. Alexandra Stoddard,**a creator of homes and a writer, says: “Home is where we express our passions and our unique creative vision. We should seek and celebrate the poetry of every day at home.” And perhaps taking time to consider that is what makes each day special.
While summer doesn’t officially begin for another two weeks, most of us consider early June its real onset. I look forward to the activities and events already on my calendar for the summer months, but I know that all too soon I’ll be looking back on them. Thus it is my firm intention to enjoy each day to its fullest ---- even those days of heat and humidity that try my endurance. Seeds are planted in the garden, the tomatoes and potatoes seem to be thriving and the usual weeds are growing apace. As June explodes in flora and fauna, we remember why we so enjoy the four seasons; variety just makes life interesting!!
*-Henry Holcomb Bennett ---American author, journalist and poet. 1863-1924
**- Alexandra Stoddard is an American interior designer and lifestyle philosopher
Carol may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.