Appalachia Seasons

The Wildness of Summer


If you’ve been reading the Blind Pig for a good long while you know my least favorite time of the year is what I call the dying of Summer. It usually happens at the end of August or in early September. The lush green of the mountains takes on the dingy hue of death as it begins to die back for its winter rest.

A few years back I noticed Summer has another time that grabs my attention.

I was driving home from work and as I turned into Mason Road off Brasstown Road I was struck by the scene before me. The giant oak was still laying where it fell beside the old white farmhouse in a recent storm and the trees and bushes were heavy with their green burden of leaves. I was so struck by the view that I stopped my car and just looked at it. There was a wildness about the land that lay before me that stirred something deep within my soul.

Since that moment of realization, I’ve noticed the wildness of Summer every year. It happens exactly like the green-up of Summer in the Spring of the year. I notice it slightly and then all the sudden I’m surrounded by it. The trees bend close to the road as their leaves reach their full glory and bushes and weeds thrive in exuberance in every available nook and cranny.

I wonder if I’ve come to notice the wildness because the roadsides aren’t cleared as often as they used to be or if it took my older eyes to recognize the beauty each season brings as it progresses to the next.


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  • Reply
    lynn legge
    July 23, 2018 at 2:05 am

    you are so true tipper…we so forget to see the beauty we are blessed with..i always see something beautiful in every season..but fall seems to speak to me the most,
    many more peaceful summer nights to come yet..the fireflies are still glowing at night here.
    much love to you and big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    July 18, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Tipper, well written and thoughtful, beautiful. Gave me chills as i was reading it. God still , so in control.

    • Reply
      Tony Maynard
      July 21, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      We had a huge pine tree fall a few years ago just beyond our yard.We never found the time to cut her up.I was walking back that way this morning and it appeared to be gone! As I looked closer I noticed the vines and such had covered it completely.Amazing.Thanks Tipper!Always enjoy

  • Reply
    July 18, 2018 at 12:45 am

    You and your readers have a gift of expressing the heart of a matter. I can understand “the wildness” of summer; but I think of this “time” as the “fullness” of summer. This drought caused this fullness to arrive a few weeks ago but it is a time when summer is so full that it will soon slowly let down like a helium balloon beyond it’s prime. The wild fruit (grapes, cherries, and plums are dropping – sure sign that summer is on the wane although the temperatures we’re experiencing beg to differ. Makes me think of Grizabella (from CATS) singing Memories.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    I so love looking and seeing ,just that same way… 🙂

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    July 17, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    I LOVE this Tip. You caught what we’re all should and wrote it. . It is wild but I didn’t really know it for years b/c I had people to keep it from growing up my gutters, fences, house and if I stood there long enough my leg. The heat is smothering and full of humidity and most time its hard to breathe when walking the dogs.. I wouldn’t mind it SO much if we still had a good spring. We go straight from freezing to heat. (Granny warned me to not complain about the weather) The hickory nuts been falling since March???
    Our gardens love the heat and we need it but its hard on me to cope. I love the 100+ ft trees keeping me shaded, which helps, and try I hard not to think about all their beautiful leaves will soon be in my driveway, yard, landscaping and patio and me calling to try get help to rake, blow or bulldoze them out.
    No matter what, its better than living in a state or place with no trees or green and I’m glad to wake up everyday.
    And, much better than a nursing home. I hope I never forget spring.

  • Reply
    Annette Hensley
    July 17, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Loved this column, Tipper. I have never thought of this part of summer as “wild” but you are absolutely right. Yes, there’s the lushness and the sweetness we’re given as fruits of our labors in our gardens. But there’s also the wildness when nature really lets us know who is in control. The guy that helps me with my yard work commented last Saturday that the weeds were growing faster than he could remove them in spite of not having enough rain. He also observed that a flower we had planted had gone wild and was taking over an entire area. So, today, you’ve given me a new way to think about this time in the summer. Even here in the midwest where we have miles and miles of fields of wheat, corn, and various fruit there’s still a wildness about this time of the summer.

  • Reply
    Rosamary Christiansen
    July 17, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    It is so sad to see a beautiful old tree laying down on the groud. When it was a familiar part of your life, it’s comforting presence seems to say ‘All’s well”. When they fall down, it’s like an old friend has passed.

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    July 17, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Yes, Tipper, I am anticipating a book. You have a wonderful talent for putting words, mountain words, to pictures , thoughts, emotions , and my spirit says “amen” to it. 🙂 Makes me feel like I am driving down those roads.

    “to it.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 17, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    I realize it’s a long time yet, but I’m ready for Cold Weather. Most folks are like me, they don’t do well in hot weather, except my one time friend, little Jesse. He’s been dead for a few years now, but I’d ride by his place in the Summertime and there he was, out hoeing his garden. He had a lumber-jack shirt on and it was long-sleeved.

    Jesse ate supper with me about 3 or 4 times a week and he’d have to have a glass of Cold Milk. One time I ask him if he wanted fresh coffee and he quickly answered, “I never did learn to drink coffee.” ha Lordy, I miss him. …Ken

  • Reply
    July 17, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Oh the wildness that catches us off guard. My uncle has made it his life’s mission to keep the various cemeteries clean. He also researches the old soldiers in the family back to Revolutionary War. He has explored these mostly Autumn or early Spring. He invited me and said the road was fine. All the way down the mile long road to the cemetery at Crump’s Bottom the branches had grown over the road so they scraped all the way down the road. When I finally came to a slight clearing I stopped my car and turned around. I suppose my exploration days are over, because these wild and wonderful mountains have become more fit for young on ATV’s.

    The old cemetery was like stepping back in time, and enclosed in trees was a visible two story house with columns. Very old and very spooky. Even the men with us did not want to check it out. I heard words like rattlesnakes and ticks as they discussed the barn and house.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 17, 2018 at 11:09 am

    I meant to say my wife calls it smotheree.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 17, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Ever summer when the trees are fully leaved out and the weeds have fully grown, she calls it smotheree.

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    July 17, 2018 at 10:20 am

    The wildness showed itself to me this morning by way of morning glory climbing up my dormant shovel. I often sense it first when mourning doves feed more during the day and coo more softly at dusk.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2018 at 10:18 am

    It’s the annual invasion of the vines. There’s never bearing grapes, non blooming honeysuckle and Virginia Creeper which seem to serve no purpose other than to entangle the feet of the rest of creation. Then there is Wisteria gone wild. It’s blooms of springtime conceal its destructive directive, to climb, choke and ride over everything within its every increasing range. And Kudzu! Like wisteria this tsunami of vegetation climbs and destroys the canopy but also the understory. It runs rampant across the land at lightning like speeds as plants go. Roads are no barrier. If traffic constricts its progress it climbs a utility pole and crosses on the squirrels’ highway.
    There used to be a remedy to all this wildness at least along the roadsides. Men in ill fitting and oddly patterned clothing made their annual pilgrimage around the county. Like knights of old their quest was to find and dispense with any and all infidels along the way. Unlike knights of old they served not of their own volition but as a way to pay their way back into society. But in any case they fought back the wildness of summer, along the roadways anyway.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    July 17, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Yes! We live on a gravel side road and try to walk on it most every day. Up the road from home there’s a tunnel like effect from the fullness of all the trees and bushes. We had a mammoth rain this week and things will get even more wild.

    We never were able to get our garden under control this year and my son actually weed eated some of the middles. Also trapped two coons this week–peanut butter has been the charm. And one wily groundhog who has evaded us for a long time. We relocate them farther out in the country although my son has smoked them–I won’t eat it–it looks like liver!!

  • Reply
    Tom Deep
    July 17, 2018 at 9:33 am

    Yes, the dog days of Summer are here. It is a strange change on the lake. The Ohio Buckeye Tree in the front yard is dropping leaves as the buckeyes grow.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 17, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Tipper–This is one of your best. It shows a rare inner feel for nature’s rhythms, an innate sense of the changing of the seasons, and makes manifest your observational skills.

    I’ve never thought of summer’s peak weeks in quite the fashion you offer, but henceforth I will. It is a time of exuberance, bounty, lushness, and most certainly, wildness. I would also suggest, and it’s my favorite description for this particular time of year, that there’s a sweetness of summer as well. It comes before the slightly dismal “feel” of dog days, a harbinger of coming fall, and at a time when the bounty of gardens is at its peak. There’s sweet in the corn, in mushmelons, and in watermelons. There’s tasty abundance in okra, tomatoes, squash, beans, and peas with their promise of fine eating now and in months to come. Most of all, there’s a hidden yet palpable feeling of satisfaction knowing crops are put by, that canning and freezing mean hearty meals in winter’s hard times, and that it’s time to think about getting fall crops planted.

    It’s a wild time and a sweet time. You capture it with rare verve.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    July 17, 2018 at 8:26 am

    The wildness seems to start in and around my garden each summer around the 4th of July. There’s just no controlling the weeds at that point. The peach tree limbs are touching the ground on one side of the garden and vines from an old fence line are trying to reach out and touch them from the other side.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    July 17, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Funny you should write about this today. I was sitting on the deck yesterday and thought how heavy everything looked. Bushes are so full and branches hanging low. The first thing I thought of was all of the rain we have had lately. Perhaps I have just missed this in years gone by. Sure is a blessing to live here and be able to enjoy the seasons and the inbetweens.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 17, 2018 at 7:53 am

    I thought I was a noticing sort but I’ve never specifically noticed what you call ‘the wildness of summer’. I’ll have to look for it.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 17, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Yes, I see it Tip, it’s a heavy look and everything is bowing a little lower. I notice it with my old mulberry tree, I have to bend just a little to walk under the limbs and they were not that low just a couple of weeks ago.
    It’s that funny time when we are leaving one thing but have not quite entered the next. I used to think of that space quite a lot. I called it the spaces between. There’s always a little space when one thing turns to another and it is both and neither, just the spaces between.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2018 at 6:59 am

    Trees, bushes & vines drooping w/ fruit or seeds, fledgling birds, baby rabbits & squirrels, “teenage” bears off on their own — there’s a lot of wildness in mid-summer! So glad you enjoy it, too.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    July 17, 2018 at 6:42 am

    I can identify with that. “September Song” always summed it up for me.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 17, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Perhaps we grow accustom to seeing what we expect

  • Reply
    Kimberly Rodriguez
    July 17, 2018 at 6:09 am

    Beautiful! If you haven’t written a book yet, you have missed your true calling Tipper 🙂

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