Hartland, Minn.

Flip-flops flap.

It’s summer. The first day of summer has gone by and I haven’t got any merry summer cards sent or a tree put up.

Summer is when someone wonders what’s cooking and it’s you. Colors jump out. Birds are flying flowers and flowers are perched birds.

I went for a walk. My wife calls them forced marches. It was hotter than a Phoenix sidewalk. My thoughts were of runcation. Runcation is an obsolete word that means the removal of weeds. Weeding. Ralph Waldo Emerson described a weed as a plant whose virtue has not yet been discovered. The dictionary says that any plant that is growing where we don’t want it to grow is a weed. I pulled enough weeds that I suffered some wounds. Raspberry canes are barbed wires that bear sweet berries. Sliced arms are a small price to pay to ensure a crop of delectable black raspberries, often called black caps.

Mosquitoes conspired against me, deer flies flew laps around my head and stable flies gnawed on my legs. I swatted, stamped, jumped and dodged. Where is a dragonfly when I need one? It’s a “mosquito hawk.” Dragonflies eat flies, mosquitoes, midges, beetles, bees, horse flies, other dragonflies, moths, butterflies and deer flies. I did a Breeding Bird Survey in June. There were so many mosquitoes in my car, I had to get out of the vehicle. There wasn’t room in it for me.

If flowers smell stronger than normal, rain is on its way. Heat and humidity make it warm and cozy without the cozy part. Days of the week take turns coming up a cloud. Rain comes too early, too late, too much and too little. When thunder roars, wise folks go indoors to evade hailstones the size of beagles and winds exceeding the speed limit. Windy weather makes it possible for a fellow to spit in his own eye. It’s been estimated there are 44,000 thunderstorms globally per day. Those numbers come from the Department of Estimation & Wild Guesses. A wet garden becomes a slugfest.

Summer is when a picnic seems like a good idea. Hamburger with flies. You can rest assured that any fly in your food is locally sourced. Bees are long-haired, flower-loving vegetarians. Wasps are the ones who bother you at picnics, especially the yellow jackets. Some flies are bee mimics — bee lookalikes. This is called Batesian mimicry, which means something harmless is imitating something dangerous. It’s like a 50-year old CPA wearing a Minnesota Vikings jersey.

I’ve been reminded often that everything is here for a reason. I like insects, although it can be difficult to defend mosquitoes. Sure, they serve as food and might do a bit of pollination, but they cause incredible problems for mere humans. I recall the year the mosquitoes stole my favorite deck chair. Whenever I might think poorly of insects, I consider a couple of my heroes. E.O. Wilson said, “I turned to the teeming small creatures that can be held between the thumb and forefinger: the little things that compose the foundation of our ecosystems, the little things, as I like to say, who run the world.” And Sir David Attenborough who said this about invertebrates, “These small creatures are within a few inches of our feet, wherever we go on land — but often, they’re disregarded. We would do very well to remember them.”

I’ve dealt with gnats, mosquitoes, chiggers, biting flies and ticks engaging in opportunistic behavior within a short span of time. I have no problem remembering my unintended insect collection. I’d become their body of work.

I enjoy summer days of butterflies and summer nights when the insects clear their throats. Fireflies (lightning bugs) provide silent fireworks.

Visitors to our fine state notice three signs on our roads: roadwork ahead, roadwork and roadwork ends. Minnesota isn’t for everyone. A cousin, visiting from a state with more civilized weather was arrested for starting a snowball fight here last July. I know what you’re thinking and that makes me feel like a combination Amazing Kreskin and Nostradamus. You’re thinking, “There’s no snow here in July.”

That’s true, but my cousin didn’t know that.

A change of seasons is never a cinch. If each season were a TV set (Are they still called TV sets?), Mother Nature would have the remote and a chronic clicking problem. Weather changes.

Enjoy summer, flaws and all. Once you’ve taken the chill off from last winter, summer will be over.

Just remember, complaining about the weather doesn’t take the summer off.