Let’s celebrate! It’s a red, white and blue weekend.
And, it always seems more fitting to celebrate major holidays, like Independence Day, on a weekend, when folks generally have a bit more time to relax. Of course, farmers, like so many critical workers and emergency personnel, still work on weekends, as crops and livestock sometimes demand we do. But holidays that fall on weekends just feel more festive.
Fireworks (and traditional picnic foods) are one of my favorite things about July Fourth celebrations. I love the bright colors, the sparkles, even the crackling pops and echoing booms necessary for fireworks to be ... fireworks. And, even if we’re not otherwise musically inclined, most of us have learned to immediately recognize the opening strains of the William Tell Overture, the classic fireworks accompaniment.
Last week we enjoyed a preview of the holiday color-sparkle-boom aerial displays, when the nearby fireworks outlet at the interstate exit, just beyond our pasture, set off a noisy display, competing with a full moon glowing as bright as daylight. Unfortunately, a large tree on our pasture hill just happened to be located in the middle of our sight line to the fireworks, obliterating part of our view of the colorful splashes in the night sky.
Maybe the store was just testing out some new high-rise explosives for their customers, who were already lining up for purchases well over a week ago. With shortages of fireworks announced recently in the news, serious boomers likely want to get their stash on hand early.
Along with fireworks, the holiday parades and beautiful, patriotic red, white and blue of flags and bunting help to remind us about what we’re really celebrating: our freedoms. Too often we tend to forget that Independence Day is about the struggle to make a nation, and not just a day off with family, friends, festivities, food and fireworks that are so much a part of our traditional celebrations.
Mother Nature's Own Colorful Display
This year’s planter boxes on our farmhouse front porch lean toward the patriotic color trio of red, white and blue. Never mind that the shade of the petunias hovers somewhere between blue and purple, the red geraniums don’t all bloom at the same time as their planter-mates and the white begonias are a bit lackluster.
But on this holiday that somewhat marks the high point of summer — even though we have many more weeks until it begins to feel like fall — other color combinations around the farm and countryside also highlight this time of lush growth and plant productivity.
I’ve never seen a wild natural display in the patriotic shades of red, white and blue; Mother Nature has her own ideas about the color palette.
Green and gold, a classic color combination utilized for many sports teams uniforms, covers many areas of the countryside, as acres of golden wheat ripen to harvest-readiness. They sit, side-by-side, with stretches of lush green cornstalks and stands of soybeans marching toward the horizon.
Despite the holiday, the predominant color around the farm is currently orange. Few native flowers are more durable than wild day lilies, their orange blossoms showing up in places ranging from rural roadside banks to carefully cultivated beds. On one backyard bank beside our house, their orange blooms wave in the breezes along with volunteer companions of sky-blue chicory flowers. And, both of them are nearly overrun by a thick stand of a tall, tiny-white-flowered “weed.” These volunteers grow all over the place and I finally found a name for them in a wildflower reference: Robin’s plantain. (Who knew something with such an interesting name grew so commonly around these parts?) No human floral designer concocted this somewhat unfashionable color combo, but it endures from year to year.
The same is true for a sprawling length of growth on the high bank on the far side of the road that passes through the farm, where orange daylilies (that I planted) are being invaded by the vining foliage and lavender-pink blooms of crown vetch (that I didn’t plant). The pricey vetch seed we bought many years ago for the bank never “took,” but nature did a much better job than we did.
At the edge of the pond meadow, a self-seeded small patch of bright-red annual poppies keeps company with yellow-blossomed sunflowers, purple thistles, and red and white clover. We’ll aim to eliminate the thistles from that picture and replace it with something less invasive.
Enjoy a safe and happy Independence Day — regardless of what colors brighten your space.