The mercy of summertime trees

Summer has arrived here. Yesterday and today brought 90+ degree days. Summer in this part of California is when I pray most especially for clouds and also send up running prayers of gratitude for the few trees along the trails where I run or walk each morning. Some trails have lovely tree canopies but most are open to the sun with only the occasional tree to provide a bit of shade, a place of respite for the dog and me.

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Standing in the shade of a small tree along the trail

Brown and dry are starting to take over from the springtime green, and, as I stand in the shade of the tree, I know I’m not ready for the relentless heat and brown of summer.

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A shady spot for the dog and me to pause as we run back up the hill

I’m not prepared for cloudless day after cloudless day. I’m not ready for the thistle cuts on my legs. I’m not ready for the unpleasant parts of summer.

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A weapon in the making

Nonetheless, summer is here. Yellow starthistle has begun its early assault on running trails. It’s preparing its weapons of war.

Each morning, if I get out too late, I find myself dashing from tree to tree, from spot to spot of shade. Heaven help the dog if she finds a good smell in the beating-down sun. Her investigation will have to wait … maybe until October or November.

This is a favorite of my trees for its sheer size. It sits as a gift in the middle of a long gravel parking area. Several cars can park underneath, and most mornings, at least one is already sitting there in the tree’s shade as I go past.

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A runner’s friend

Even under its boughs, the sun still fights to get through. The tree protects me, though, from the oppressive sun, and the temperature always drops a few degrees in its shade. The moments underneath it are some of my favorite of each run.

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Safe from the sun?

Cottonwood trees don’t grow right up along the trail, but their fluff drifts everywhere right now. I wonder if cottonwoods are one reason my allergies are in full swing these days. I didn’t grow up near cottonwoods, but I like seeing the drift of their downy soft seeds.

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Cottonwood tree complete with fluff

I guess I’m not the only one who likes the fluff (and a bit of shade):

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I heard this guy before seeing him scurrying among the Cottonwood fluff

Every lizard I see reminds me to remain vigilant for rattlesnakes, too. I’ve stopped running on certain trails for the season because they’re so overgrown that I wouldn’t have time to see and react to a rattlesnake. When I pray about rattlesnakes (yes, I pray running prayers about rattlesnakes), I ask God to let me see the ones I need to see and not see the ones I don’t.

This not-so-small lizard clearly loves the summer sun more than I do. I was content to see the two lizards and no snakes this morning. I hope the trend lasts.

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I’ll confess: I took trees more for granted when I lived in North Carolina, where I could complete a morning run mostly in the shade. If you have been taking summertime trees for granted where you are, maybe now is the time to be grateful for their mercy.

As summer creeps in where you live, do you find yourself enjoying the shade of trees more and more? Do you find them a merciful companion in your morning, as I do?

2 thoughts on “The mercy of summertime trees

  1. Trees are our calling card to some degree – Originally being from the Buckeye State, then living in the Palm Tree State and now living for 16 years in NC – the land of Loblolly Pines – tress by region are kind of a landmark in themselves. After I read your post I was curious about how many different kinds of trees are in NC? I found a “pocket guide” online – a mere 90+ pages (what size is his pocket?) of NC trees and found it funny that there was a section of “less important tress”! Perhaps the person who wrote our handy pocket guide would like to take a run along the path you described? He may soon be finding that even the tiniest bush is significant to the person/lizard/snake who welcomes the shady relief!!! = )

    BTW – the photo of the cottonwood is amazing!

    • 🙂 Ha! Ha! — “what size is his pocket?” I’m glad this post inspired you to do a little research about trees in NC. I miss the Loblollies, but we have beautiful redwoods here. I’d be curious to know how the writer qualified a tree as less important.

      Thanks for the compliment about the cottonwood photo. I’m glad you stopped by the blog today to enjoy it.

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