Heat shadows dance above the blacktop.

Birds leave bits of worms on my doorstep: temple offerings.

Rabbits boldly bounce across the lawn and we take up the gleeful but futile chase.

Summer.

The sun is hot and high, tiring my eyes, browning my skin and driving me indoors.

These blistering Carolina days almost make me wistful for January — almost but not quite.

Cool water from the garden hose refreshes body and soul — wet grass between toes, rainbow drops on eyelashes.

Summer.

Indigo buntings play hide and seek by the blackberry bushes.

Hawks glide on invisible currents.

Mockingbirds carry on as if the universe is their audience.

Worms seek shelter beneath moist rocks.

Bumblebees weigh down the tiny violas trying to get a sweet drink.

Summer.

Big new cars raise the dust on the highway.

Fertilizer bags litter the roadside.

Everyone is talking about politics — the presidential election is the longest running, best selling show we have — never mind the issues, just bring those grocery prices down and raise the GNP.

Two hundred years of freedom and Americans can’t make a decision without first consulting pollsters and newscasters.

Summer.

There’s a cool, shady corner in the kitchen.

That’s where I raise a simple crop that’s not dependent on sparse rain clouds or my depleted compost pile.

Sprouts: lentils and alfalfa are best. Mung beans are pretty good, soy beans, too.

A clear-thinking relative gave me a useful book last Christmas: The Sprouter’s Cookbook by Marjorie Page Blanchard (from Garden Way Publishing, Vermont). It’s a very complete book for beginner or afficionado.

On a sultry afternoon, a light lunch of cottage cheese and sprouts and whole wheat crackers is quite refreshing.

 

SPROUTING

Equipment: Although there are elaborate devices on the market for sprouting seeds, all you need to do the trick is a quart mason jar, a wire ring to hold a piece of nylon mesh (from an old stocking or from an orangesack) on top of the jar and the seeds. Although you don’t have to get your seeds at the health food store, be sure they aren’t treated, sprayed or pre-cooked.

Method: Wash and pick over ¼ cup of beans per jar. Place beans in jar with a cup of water to soak overnight. Place mesh over jars and screw on rings. Drain water off beans and rinse once or twice. Do not leave water in jars. Place jars upside down in a drainboard or on their sides in a cool, dark place. (If it’s too hot the beans will become rancid and inedible — wait for cooler weather. Rinse with cool water three or four times a day. Sprouts will be ready in three to four days. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Sprouts are very nice substitutes for lettuce in a sandwich and add a crunchy, green taste to salads and omelettes. Any seed will sprout, so experiment and “enjoy.”