This last weekend, I drove on a back road through the hills to visit my hairdresser for a haircut. While I drove, I noticed the lush green of the trees, fuller than they were a few weeks ago. The bushes were larger and crowded, filling the empty space in the hills, and adding to the impression of a richness of the growing season. I realized that in the last few weeks spring had fully switched over to summer.

Fireworks on 4th of July

Most of the wild flowers are gone but there is some faint yellow in the hills from a few daisies clinging to life. I also saw the white flowers of California buckwheat, ceanothus bushes and lemonade berry bushes, part of the chaparral of southern California. All too soon, the buckwheat flowers will turn to a rich brown, and  the other flowers will turn to seeds and berries as the summer sun moves through our skies.

Sunday was a hot summer day with no fog in the morning, the first hot, sunny day for this year.  Clouds from the day before had pulled dust with them as they moved through, now the sky was a clear, fresh blue, looking like a newly painted ceiling. The sunset in the evening was vivid, bright colors of pink, orange, and gold against that clean blue background.  My son called me out to take pictures of the bright pink sky, the trees showing up as shadows against the garish colors of the evening.

Trees at sunset

Hill, trees at sunset

Another sign of summer is this week, the 4th of July holiday,  On this holiday, Americans celebrate our beginning and our unity. So many people of diverse backgrounds come together for a day to honor our country and it’s founding. I see this diversity as a great strength, providing many voices and ideas which are used to weave the tapestry we call the United States of America.

American flag flying from top of house

Unfortunately, this diversity is used by some to justify disagreement, anger, and feuds to try and drive us apart in spite of the heritage we share. In this tumult and chaos, many feel their voice is ignored or silenced, especially when violence is aimed at them. Others are fearful of change and want to ignore many of these calls to action, afraid of what they might lose.

In the midst of the chaos, the noise and the fury, somehow Americans find a way to compromise and work with other Americans to make our country, our people and our future better. There are setbacks, there are troubled times and we make mistakes, sometimes bad mistakes that hurt many people. In spite of these setbacks, these acts of anger and hate, a light can be found, pointing to the future and what we aspire to. I remain positive that the people of the US will continue to strive for ideals even though we stumble and fall. In between the curtain of chaos, I see peeks of our unity, a few people working on one issue while a few more work on other issues. I see our motto, E Pluribus Unum, ‘out of many, one’ in action, working for a positive future for everyone.

Cheeseburger with fries on plate

Have a Happy 4th and enjoy a break with family and friends.

Pictures by J.T. Harpster and Tamara Harpster