Lazy Summer Afternoon

IMG_0999Fluffy, cottony clouds float in a Wedgewood blue sky. In the treetops above me, goldfinches twitter; cedar waxwings dart and swoop after insects, calling “zee-zee” to one other. I sit in one of the Andirondack chairs above the river, taking in the view both up and down, listening to the burbling below my feet.

IMG_6763A hummingbird visits the jewelweed behind my chair and I pause to listen to its beating thrum. IMG_6850If I move to look at it, it will surely flee, so I stay carefully still.

It approaches over my head, hovering to inspect the bright, azure hair Scrunchy holding back my ponytail. Pausing next to my ear, it investigates the embroidered flowers that decorate the straps of my sundress. It is so close its pumping wings fan my hair and I feel its gentle brush on my cheek, but I can barely see it in my peripheral vision. It quickly decides I’m not a food source and zooms a beeline straight out over the river to the sycamore tree on the opposite bank. I feel honored by this very special visit.

When I later look up the symbolism of hummingbirds, I see significance in its message:

“The hummingbird generally symbolizes joy and playfulness, as well as adaptability. Additional symbolic meanings are:

  • Lightness of being, enjoyment of life
  • Being more present
  • Independence
  • Bringing playfulness and joy in your life
  • Lifting up negativity
  • Swiftness, ability to respond quickly
  • Resiliency, being able to travel great distances tirelessly”

I could always have more joy and playfulness in my life, be more present and foster positive resiliency. It is a daily striving toward creating a more fulfilling life.

IMG_6633It has been a hot and humid week, warmer than it has been all summer. I went swimming in the river yesterday and it was so refreshing! I squealed when I first entered the water, but my body soon adjusted to the cool water and as my core temperature lowered, I felt much better, relaxing into the flow of the water around me.

Our little swimming hole is only waist deep, so one must dip up and down, then to ‘swim,’ must lay down to float fifteen feet downstream before it grows too shallow, touching bottom. I waded back and repeated the trip a few more times. The tranquility of the scene, the gentle caress of the water around me, permeated my every fiber. Relaxed, all stress melted away, I am one with the stream and the little fish that nibble around my feet.

IMG_6573As I continue to sit up here above the river, I am visited by another wild inhabitant, this time a bumblebee doing the same as the hummingbird. This blue hair tie must be blaring ultraviolet light like a beacon! I can feel her wings beat the air and the light brush of feet upon the back of my neck before she veers off and away. I’m grateful she didn’t land as I’m not sure I could hold still for that.

IMG_6829Looking around, I see that a few of the Joe-Pye weed are turning brown, as are the early goldenrod. Time passes, flowers senesce and set seed. We have many species of goldenrod, so we’ll have blooms for a while yet. The tansy is tall, hugging the river edges where the light is best, clusters of golden buttons on long stalks of ferny leaves.IMG_6601

The knotweed have sent up their creamy flower stalks like bony fingers; soon they will fluff out, creating mounded, snowy banks up and down the river. The masses of blossoms are quite beautiful; I try not to negatively judge their invasiveness and impact on the landscape. I want to be present and accept them as they are– a plant that possesses graceful beauty.

The air is pungent with the smell of vegetation; freshly released oxygen that goes down like a good wine. I love the peace of this place where the water flows over the stones, the light catches, and ripples radiate in all directions. Deeper pools slow the eddies, offering a view to the tumble of tossed stones below.

A catbird scolds from the bushes. It sounds like he is whining “Hey!” interspersed with a IMG_6630nasal, Long Island accented, “Jer-ry!” They are keen observers and are the first to alert the residents that intruders have arrived. I don’t know what he has seen as I am staying still and have been here a while. Perhaps he just now noticed me.

A red-bellied woodpecker, like an unhappy housewife, rails from the woods, “Dirt-dirt-dirt!” as she hunts for insects among the dead tree branches and bark crevices.

A light breeze gently tosses the top of a seventy-foot cottonwood, it’s deltoid leaves quaking like aspens, shimmering in the sunlight. It is a dance of light and wind. The wild cherry trees let loose a few yellowed leaves, informing me the process of fall has begun, phasing out the work of summer. Its fruit attracts robins, cardinals and cedar waxwings, the latter being the most vocal. There is more yellow in the landscape with each passing day as trees phase out darker green for more olive, pushing on towards gold.

A blue bottle fly buzzes around me, pulling my attention away from the trees until I tire of it and swat it away. A mosquito replaces it, finding me a hopeful meal until I end its quest.

IMG_6797Occasionally, a song sparrow will raise its song, but it lacks the urgency of earlier summer, now that breeding season is over. It’s not as important to defend territory, as it is to fatten up for the migration south it will soon be undertaking.

Two squirrels are scrambling in the maple canopy above my head. I hear them dropping twigs, leaves and seeds, each piece hitting leaves and branches as they fall…tat-tat-tat. They are messy eaters, dropping half of what they harvest. Good news for the ground foragers, like mice and chipmunks, who will be happy for the easy meal. Those seeds that are not found will have a chance of sprouting next spring.

With a sigh, I see the sun has sunk below the trees, and my time has grown short. I must go back to my responsibilities, but will do so refreshed and renewed, and yes, more joyful.


About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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55 Responses to Lazy Summer Afternoon

  1. seedbud says:

    What a lovely respite – thank you Eliza.

  2. Kina says:

    Very very nice!! I love reading your descriptions. ” Wedgwood blue” especially hit a chord! I almost felt I was there with you!

  3. Sounds like a perfect day. Looks like a beautiful slice of heaven you have there, Eliza. I am happy for you. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Oh, Eliza!!! What an astounding post this is!! How I wanted to be floating in that water with you to just have all my troubles drift away. Glorious post, one fit to celebrate the lazy hazy days of summer. Thank you!!! Love, Amy ❤

  5. Maria F. says:

    Very interesting Eliza, I love all the images, specially the wooden chair; the background came out really good! Thanks for the information about hummingbirds!

  6. Val Boyko says:

    Soothing , refreshing, inspiring … so lovely Eliza being with you in the place full of the bustle of nature and touching it serene center. 🙏

  7. cindy knoke says:

    So delightful! I feel the sun and tranquility~

  8. arlingwoman says:

    What a nice hummingbird experience. Glad the bee didn’t land. I had one get tangled in my hair once and had to bend over and shake my head until it freed itself!

  9. Wonderful. Beautiful.

  10. Thankyou for sharing such a wonderful part of your world Eliza. 🙂

  11. mk says:

    Thank you for sharing all the sights and sounds and feelings and fragrances, and your visitors and meditations. You’ve counted your blessings, and what a rich day you’ve had!

  12. Reading this post and looking at those beautiful images calmed me down and made me breath more deeply, thank you Eliza!

  13. Trini Lind says:

    I felt I was there with you! 😊. I especially wish I could go swimming with you, it is so hot here in India too, we have a pool, but it is only for men and kids, women cant wear bathing suits here 😕. So I wish I could fly over to you and take a dip in that cool river, much better than a pool anyways! 😊🏊🏻🏊🏻🏊🏻🏊🏻

  14. Spy Garden says:

    Wonderful post!!

  15. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Wonderful descriptions and photos of ‘your’ world Eliza. How amazing to have feel a hummingbird wings on your face!

  16. spanishwoods says:

    So beautiful. I loved reading this post Eliza.

  17. What a wonderful idyllic day. 🙂

  18. How very beautiful, Eliza…you are a very keen observer of nature…a quiet presence as evidenced by the proximity of the hummingbird, no doubt attracted to your gentleness…thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience!

  19. Kathy Sturr says:

    The perfect day Eliza! You make me long for the lake. I cannot wait to spend weekends there (in a tent for now). I will never forget a time when I was filling one of my hummingbird feeders, and was still carrying it from my hand, the hummingbird that couldn’t wait and perched right there in front of me – so awesome!

  20. Jewels says:

    Beautiful post, Eliza ❤

  21. albert says:

    What a blessing that day was, and is now, and from now on–for all of us who are blessed to visit here!

  22. Robbie says:

    written so beauitfully:-) I felt as if I was in the water , too:-) Oh you do live in paradise and your words + photos made it come alive for me-thank you for sharing your paradise!

  23. Laurie Graves says:

    Such a lovely post! Reminded me of Wordsworth’s “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”

  24. margber says:

    Oh Eliza!… What a lovely post. Your description of sitting above the water and all the many, lovely visitors that day made me want to be sitting beside you. : )

  25. Joanne says:

    Oh how I loved sharing your quiet time with nature, Eliza. The gentle coolness of the river almost made me wish that our summer had arrived, which is really saying something, as I’m not a summer person at all! Your visit from the humming bird was indeed a very special moment for you. It must have been so tempting to reach for your camera, which of course would have disturbed him and sent him away. Some moments need only our presence, and our memory can relive them whenever we wish. 🙂

  26. Heather says:

    This was like being in a poem. Your words show your love for nature. As for presence and positive resilience, we could all work on that more, I think. The journey can be a slow one; don’t forget to be forgiving of yourself if you slip into negativity.
    It’s chilly here. No swimming for a few days – even in shallow streams 😉

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Heather. Yes on the forgiving aspect, (how do you know me so well 😉 !). We’re enjoying the cool front, too.
      We went to the ocean yesterday and the swimming was wonderful – breezy, but the 75F water was a pure joy to bob around in. 🙂 Wished we lived closer.

  27. Debra says:

    If there is a heaven I believe it would be a lot like what you’ve described and shown here. wow.

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