Summer always reminds me of vacation. School in California would let out for the summer, and then it was off for adventures. Sometimes that was traveling north to Morro Bay in Central California, though I’d admit neither of my parents were very fun. It was a straight through drive. No stopping! All those wonderful beaches to see along the way, and we didn’t stop for any of them!
(Now it takes me three hours to go to someplace that’s a 90 minute drive. But honestly, stopping along the way is part of the adventure!)
At Morro Bay, it was time to explore the beaches. We’d find black mussels embedded in the sand. Those were pretty common. Less common were the sand dollars, which were fragile and often didn’t survive the crashing surf. We’d also find barnacles, which looked like miniature volcanoes; limpets, which looked like Chinaman hats; and clamshells, which sometimes looked like butterflies. Lots of pictures here at Marine Science.
We’d climb all over the rocks and look in the tidal pools at the sea anemones. They always were clogged with sand, tentacles moving like fingers. The rocks always had black tar on them from oil spills, and sometimes the sand would have black streaks.
Seaweed washed ashore meant the Seaweed Stomp. The seaweed came with these air bladders, presumably to keep it afloat. They were great fun stomping on. But we had to watch out for the jellyfish — piles of jelly washed up. My father always warned us not to step on them. He’d done that when he was a child and described how painful it was. It must have worked because none us every stepped on one!
In Virginia, it’s different place. It’s actually green, which almost none of California seems to have. Everything blooms bright and green, and the cicadas buzz from the trees. The first time these bug guys came out, I thought a gardener had done something to the grass — it was covered with small, round holes. That’s where the cicadas go to eat and wait until mating season.
If I go out at dusk, I can watch the green lights in the air from the fireflies. They light up for a second or two, then disappear. Animal sightings are also really common this time of the year — most of them disappear once winter sets in. Mostly squirrels, but also chipmunks, the occasional cottontail bunny, and mallard ducks. Depending on where I’m at, there may also be a lot of dragonflies and butterflies. The butterflies land on a flower and flap their wings as they dig in for the pollen.
And then there’s the humidity. Summers in this area are well-known for their humidity. Days might be very humid, and then about 4:00 the air can’t take it any more and we get a thunderstorm. The tree branches start to sway from the winds as the storm approaches. Then the sky goes dark, almost as dark as dusk, and rain falls in a heavy curtain from the clouds. It lasts about half an hour, and then the sky clears, and it looks like the storm was never there.
What’s summer like where you’re at?