Summer Reading — Guest Post by Teresa Knipper

As a lit­tle girl grow­ing up in rur­al Penn­syl­va­nia, sum­mer was a mag­ic time of no school, long days at the play­ground across the street from my house, time with my sis­ters doing puz­zles and play­ing Monop­oly on the porch.

Banded Hairstreak

Band­ed Hair­streak

One sum­mer mem­o­ry must have been from the sum­mer of 1969-a most mag­ic sum­mer of love and hip­pies and Wood­stock. For me how­ev­er it was my ear­li­est mem­o­ry of the sum­mer read­ing club at my local library.  I was old enough that sum­mer to walk to the library alone and the children’s librar­i­an was eager to sign up sum­mer read­ers.  She had some­how made tiny rock­et ships from salt that slow­ly crept toward the moon’s sur­face as you tab­u­lat­ed more books. (Remem­ber this was the sum­mer we land­ed on the moon.)  I can still remem­ber mov­ing my rock­et game piece on the path and the salty residue it left on my fin­ger­tips.

Obliv­i­ous to the wide open field adjoin­ing my mom and dad’s house and the creek run­ning through the prop­er­ty, I stu­dious­ly read all that sum­mer, ingest­ing books about ancient Egypt, Aztecs and Mayans.  Mom how­ev­er insist­ed that we be out­side.  She had bought that sum­mer a “chaise lounge” at some yard sale and I felt very cos­mopoli­tan loung­ing on the com­fy cush­ion that she had recov­ered, dream­ing of far off civ­i­liza­tions.

Even though I say I was obliv­i­ous of the nat­ur­al beau­ty around me in those long sum­mer days per­haps I came to appre­ci­ate that nat­ur­al world by osmo­sis. As a gar­den­er now my “sum­mer read­ing” often includes botan­i­cal and gar­den design books, tomes about the many insects that inhab­it the land­scape and infor­ma­tion about the pest and dis­eases that fre­quent my gar­den.  But just today I had a dif­fer­ent “sum­mer read­ing” expe­ri­ence.

The beau­ti­ful light and sweet smell of a milk­weed flower drew me in.  From some of my read­ing I know that this flower is one of the most high­ly evolved because of its intri­cate lock and key method of pollen dis­per­sal, how­ev­er, it was the beau­ty that I “read” as I watch a bee vis­it each flower.

My sum­mer read­ing has changed.  In the long sun lit days I have more time to observe the gen­tle unfold­ing of a lily, lis­ten for the croak of a green frog in my pond or appre­ci­ate that at a cer­tain tem­per­a­ture the fire­flies put on a twin­kling light show to rival any 4th of July dis­play.  I’ll admit I am not above a trashy romance while sit­ting at the beach, but this ver­sion of “sum­mer read­ing” has me hooked. I no longer need the impe­tus of that home­made rock­et ship to inspire me to “read” the boun­ty in my own back­yard. I just need to be aware of the balm that this appre­ci­a­tion of nature is to  a soul.  It is enough!!

Tere­sa Knip­per is a Mas­ter Gar­den­er in Mer­cer Coun­ty NJ. She is pas­sion­ate about sus­tain­able gar­den­ing espe­cial­ly for but­ter­flies.  She has also just fin­ished her train­ing as spir­i­tu­al direc­tor at the Upper Room Spir­i­tu­al Cen­ter in Nep­tune NJ.



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About Aaron Bynen

Aaron is a health conscious individual living in the Pacific Northwest.

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