By Mack Samples|
“Nothing quite so rare as a day in June,” the man said several years ago. I think he pretty much nailed it. If you can catch the right weather pattern during that month, you will often get a day that is as near to perfect as it gets. The current June has been a bit wet and stormy, but we have still managed to get in some pretty good days. As a matter of fact, that near perfect rare day occurred on the very last day of June. And where better to enjoy such days than in central West Virginia. It is the greenest place with the lushest (is that a word) growth in the country. To walk about our central counties on one of those rare June days makes a person just plain thankful that he got a chance to live on the planet.
But that’s not the best part. It is in June that the gardens begin to produce. Most of us are already eating new potatoes, especially those of us who planted a few red Pontiacs. You don’t even have to peel them in June. Just wash them off a little, boil them, and eat them skin and all. They are delicious and taste nothing like store-bought potatoes. Those who put out a patch of peas can add to the potato treat.
Summer squash generally comes on in June and remains with us for most of the summer. The main thing to remember with the squash is to not be stingy with the butter, no matter what the federal government says. If a person cannot eat what is good there is not much point in living.
And what about those half-runner beans? If you got them out early and dodged the frost, you can have some on the table in June. My target is always the Fourth of July but I have had them come on in June. When I lived in Gilmer County, I sometimes had half-runners on my table during the Folk Festival (always the third weekend in June). I don’t care what anyone says, there is nothing as tasty as half-runner beans if they are well cooked. Up north they really don’t know what half-runners are, but when they prepare any kind of green beans they eat them half raw. As a result, they don’t really know the joys of eating one of the tastiest treats in the garden. You have to cook any kind of green beans at least a couple of hours before they begin to taste right.
And, of course, it is in June that the music gets right in West Virginia. The state features a music festival somewhere nearly every weekend once June rolls around. Those of us who have been cooped up all winter, playing by ourselves, get a chance to play with some of the state’s best pickers. The very best music on earth comes out of those informal music sessions that happen at festivals. Winston Churchill, when he stood on the balcony acknowledging the cheers of his fellow Britons after winning World War II,
Said: “We had a moment that was sublime.” At the West Virginia State Folk Festival, in some very late night picking sessions, “I have had some moments that were sublime.”
Finally, if you like to dance, June is the time to do it. Many of the festivals feature square dancing and they have blue ribbon bands providing the music. I have square danced a lot of places but it does not get any better than it does in West Virginia.
What indeed is as rare as a day in June? I know it’s gone for this year but if all goes well, the Great Keeper of the Universe will bring it around again next year.