Bounty of summer yields more than just zucchini

posted Aug. 21, 2017 7:50 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Sara Bredesen, Regional Editor |

It’s fun to spend a little more time on the front deck with a book and cup of tea as I slowly slip from full-time employment into a gradual retirement. I’ve always taken time to smell the roses, so to speak, but there sure are a lot more roses out there than I remember.

Summer has always been a season of bounty. The sun shines longer, the nights are softer, and the zucchini supply is as unending as ever.

But something is different. The tree canopy which used to shade a patch of the front yard now shakes hands with arbor vitae across the driveway, and the bloat of clematis foliage growing up the garage wall is determined to pull its trellis to the pavement. There’s just more or everything.

Even the river otter that visits in the spring came back a few weeks ago and brought along a friend.

This is the first year the garden has been fenced, so things are happening there that have never happened before. I can’t pick a tomato without a squash tendril trying to climb my ankle, and the fruit laden peppers are tangling with the onion tops. If I’m lucky, they will make their own salsa and save me time over a hot kitchen stove.

Bird life is so abundant this summer that I’ve considered leaving the sunflower barrel open on the deck so I don’t have to carry feeders back and forth to the garage for refills. My fine feathered friends are eating me out of house and home. It is not unusual to see the feeders swinging precariously on a windless day as flights of every imagined species vie for perch space.

Unfortunately, there are other bounties of summer that aren’t quite as welcome. The grass has outgrown my lawn mower’s mechanical capacity, and the pasture has risen so fast that the goats disappear in the thick forage for days at a time.

My grape arbor looks like a window hung with lace curtains as I try in vain to keep the Japanese beetles under control. Grape jelly is off the list of projects this fall. Fortunately, the insect explosion has not included mosquitoes. They are probably hatching, but evenings on the swing down by the pond are much more pleasant with squadrons of bats and swallows in the air.

Without a dog on patrol, I’ve been overtaken by hairy invaders (hence the garden fence). Rabbit, chipmunk and 13-lined ground squirrel populations have exploded like Tribbles on the Enterprise, and it’s getting dangerous to walk barefoot around the property because of all the charged rat traps. My hope is that nature’s pendulum will soon start its return swing and bring on the avenging red-tailed hawks and laser-sighted eagles.

Polliwog Pond in the backyard has suffered its own version of abundance with a mat of algae ringing its circumference. The frogs love it, but it’s far from swimmable.

And, of course, it’s time to get back to the topic of zucchini. In a typical summer, two plants and five loaves would easily feed 5,000. The big difference this year is that I have all this free time on my hands and have been able to pick the squash before they turn into torpedoes. Considering the overabundance around me, it’s magical to find that the one place I’m in control is the zucchini patch.

So far.

Sara Bredesen can be reached at

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