By Tim Garvey
One of my favorite songs growing up when I was a kid was called Summertime. It’s summertime…summertime…sum…sum…summertime!
For me the key word being “time.” As a student and teacher of Physics, we talk a lot about what time is and how it is measured. We have created many different types of clocks to measure it. We have also learned from Einstein, that time can be experienced in a relative way. One of the neat things about the world we live in is that nature allows us to measure time in many different ways in a daily manner and seasonal manner.
In science, we are always stressing to students about how important it is to use our senses for observations. It is part of the scientific method that we teach. Nature has provided us with some wonderful clocks that will allow us know what time it is in a very fun way; for example, at my house, my family and I have a contest each summer to spot the first firefly of the year. Over the years we have come to realize that this happens usually in the middle of June (the winner, by the way, gets a Hershey bar).
There are many nature clocks that are fun to observe and can sharpen the senses. I personally am an early morning riser and have noticed that you can hear the birds singing their songs about a half hour before the sun rises. It's a great alarm clock for me and starts a nice calming transition for an often crazy day of summer.
Our sense of taste comes alive during the summer with all the fresh produce, providing us with all kinds of “nature clocks” to experience. One of the best is the fresh local strawberries that tell us that it's the first week of June. And, of course, the tomatoes in July and silver corn in August are the kind of tastes we try to hold onto to get us through the cold winters.
In order to fully experience and appreciate summer, we must not ignore our sense of smell. Once again the wonderful different smells provided to us throughout the different times of summer signal us as to what time it is.
I always look forward to the smell of the lilacs because it tells me summer is just about ready to begin. Perhaps my favorite fragrance that I look forward to each summer is the smell of the wild huckleberries filling this area starting in mid-July. I have been going out “picking a quart of hucks" since I was four years old. I actually started right here in Freeland and Jeddo (near breaker #5). The aroma of the local huckleberry, not to be confused with the cultivated blueberry, is just unbeatable. It definitely fills the senses and makes its mark on the summer stage.
There are so many wonderful happenings in the summer that are begging for our senses to notice. Whether you are camping in the woods or sitting on the warm sands of the beach, take a moment in “time” and observe what time your senses are telling you it is and enjoy the moment.