We have been experiencing a truly delightful spring this year. We’ve had so many days I have classified as one of the ten best of the year that I have lost count. Oh, we’ve had a few early hot and humid spells to remind us that summer is knocking on the door, but they have been brief in duration and eventually replaced by dry and comfortable weather. Our highest temperature of the year thus far was 87 degrees on May 25 and 28, and we are now well into the first week of June without experiencing any highs of 90 or more.
I mowed our yards yesterday for the eighth time this season, and the air was so cool and crisp that, despite abundant sunshine, the high temperature never rose above 68 degrees. This morning, our low temperature bottomed out at 40 degrees, and I watched the fog gently rise off our Peeper Pond as I stood on the front porch reveling in the chill. Our last frost of the season this year occurred on May 15 after we had planted most of our garden vegetables. The low temperature on that morning had dipped to 35 degrees. Fortunately, our garden wasn’t damaged, and our vegetables are again growing prolifically. Our local TV station, WHSV in Harrisonburg, had warned viewers in the coldest valleys of our area that patchy frosts were possible again this morning. Fortunately, we avoided that fate, which could have damaged a number of our vegetable plants.
Despite the comfortable spring weather we are enjoying, nature is reminding us that we are rapidly approaching summer. The fireflies have returned to our farm in abundance, and their soft, yellow glow sparkles like flickering stars spread across our small hayfield. Our whippoorwills have ceased their nightly calls, but as I write this post in the soft morning glow, I can hear our resident mockingbird mimic their call as part of his raucus repertoire. He regales us with his singing talents daily from the top of the power pole along our driveway, occasionally leaping and fluttering his wings as he dances to his own music. His performance is a sight and sound to behold.
However, the early summer sign I appreciate most is the gleeful chirp of the crickets—a sound they make by rubbing their legs together. I know many people are annoyed by their incessant calls (especially when they invade the house at night), but I love to listen to them from our front porch. They remind me of lazy summer days during my childhood on the farm, when they could be heard chirping in great numbers in our dairy barn and the surrounding fields. Their calls assured me I was not alone when I made my nightly rounds to the cemetery above our farm to check for straggling visitors before locking the gate. They also served as constant companions on my many wanderings through the woods that surrounded our farm.
Although many people are annoyed when a stray cricket gets into the house, such an invasion was considered a sign of good luck in days past. I even recall my adoptive father telling me that you could tell the temperature by listening to the crickets. As the old weather legend goes, you can tell the temperature in your local area by counting the number of chirps a cricket makes in fourteen seconds, then adding 40. I don’t know who spent the time necessary to figure that out, but I must admit, it does appear to work well.
Of all the bugs I have encountered, I find the cricket to be one of the most attractive. As children, we enjoyed trying to catch them as they leapt randomly to avoid us. It always seemed as though they enjoyed playing with us. Since they don’t bite or pinch, as many insects do, we always considered them to be excellent playmates. I have even enjoyed watching our cat, Calli, bounce playfully in our yard as she tries to catch an elusive cricket. Such are the simple joys of summer farm life here at Peeper Pond Farm. I hope you can find some spare time in your own life to enjoy and appreciate the crickets.