The beginning of June has brought more daylight to my area. Something in the extra light sets my soul at ease and makes my body feel young at heart. Research has shown that sun exposure boosts levels of serotonin in the brain, which helps fight depression. Though the sky was cloudy for several of the first few days of June, we had some stellar sunrises and breath-taking clear blue moments that really lifted my spirits.
I also saw the first daisies in bloom, a sure sign summer is on the way to my area. Daisies belong to the Asteraceae family, also known as Compositae. The oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is the most common type in my area and is considered a wild flower.
The word daisy is Old English for “day’s eye” which may be derived from the beginning of each day or the tiding of spring. Both of these events are linked to the sun’s many powers. Thus, the daisy is often thought to symbolize the sun, life, light, warmth, and energy.
The June sun has opened up the blossoms of a huge magnolia tree along my biking route. The sweet and intoxicating scent of the blooms left me feeling lightheaded as I pedaled past the tree the other night. This particular tree is very old with a huge trunk and branches reaching far and wide into the sky. Every time I pass this tree, I am awestruck by its natural beauty and grace.
Magnolia trees are more prevalent in the southern United States. However, I know of several in my area, all of which are well established and appear to be of the saucer type with broad petals. Other types of magnolias include star and sweet bay, both of which have smaller petals.
Another bright bloom of June is the peony. My grandmother planted a row of these perennials by the house in the mid 1940’s. They bloom with consistency every year and were her most favorite flower. Every spring, the ants come to feed on the nectar of the peony buds. The buds open to reveal silky smooth blooms with fragrant, delicate petals.
Some interesting facts about the peony include:
- The plants may live up to 100 years
- The peony is the state flower of Indiana
- Traditionally, the flower is a symbol of good fortune
- Peonies come in a wide variety of colors
- Ancient peoples believed the peony relieved headaches
Jewels of the Woods
June also brings with it jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), which is a tall herb found in the woods around my property and along roadsides. Jewelweed likes shady, moist areas. It is in the Balsaminaceae, or touch-me-not family and the juices of the plant were used for medicinal purposes including relief from skin irritation and as an aid for gastrointestinal, gynecological, orthopedic, pulmonary, and kidney conditions.
The plants have smooth, watery stalks and leaves ranging from light to dark green in color. Orange flowers appear on the plants in mid-June and the deer in my area like to eat the tips of the plants.
Spreading Light and Life
All of these changes in nature are examples of how the sun’s light nurtures life. I find it amazing how much impact a single object can have upon the world, and I have learned to appreciate nature’s reactions to the sun and its magnificent powers.
This month’s full moon added extra light to help fuel the blooming and growth of the landscape. June’s full moon is known as the strawberry moon because it correlates with the strawberry harvest time.
In my area, we have wild strawberries growing in the fields, as well as cultivated patches that many people use to make jam and jelly. Making strawberry jam is a tradition in my family, one that my mom and I look forward to each year. Right now, the plants are still in the blossom stage, but the sunlight and rain will soon turn the blooms into fruit.
All around, I see light and life allowing for growth and change in nature. It is an exciting time of year, one that allows me to appreciate all the work done by nature in May to allow for many great events and sights in June and later in the year.
Resources and Related Links
Daisies – http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/149989/daisy
Depression – http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
Etymology and symbolism of the word daisy – http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbolic-meaning-of-daisy.html
Jewelweed – http://www.nps.gov/shen/learn/nature/jewelweed.htm
Magnolia tree – http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/magnolia-magic
Magnolia tree types – http://www.gardenguides.com/99947-interesting-fact-magnolia-tree.html
Peony – http://www.almanac.com/plant/peonies
Peony facts – http://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/arts-and-culture/news/g1236/12-peony-facts/
Strawberry moon – http://farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/
Sun exposure and serotonin – http://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/boost-mood