Welcome to June 2023
Since we’re now past Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer has arrived. Yet the summer solstice, which is astronomical summer won’t be here until Wednesday, June 21, 2023 at 9:57 AM CDT. Weathercasters use this alternative meteorological definition: “seasons begin on the first day of the months that include the equinoxes and solstice.” Since June 1 is National Go Barefoot Day, we rabbits, who never wear shoes on either our lucky foot or our three other feet, can rejoice and celebrate with our human friends as we share the delights of bare-footing across the park lawn.
Summer is the season of picnics, patios, porches, and other alfresco dining activities. I remember mayonnaise sandwiches, butter and sugar sandwiches, plus the always delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Mama stirred the jelly into the peanut butter so it didn’t dribble out as it melted in our hot Southern summers.
June has International Picnic Day on June 18, but we rabbits don’t need a special day to have a feast in a field. In fact, we eat outside every single day. We are picnic aficionados. I’m not sure if June has an exceptional amount of national food days, for I haven’t paid attention lately due to my loss of vision from cataracts. Now that I’ve had surgery on both eyes, I’m just amazed at what all I’ve been missing!
June has 46—boy howdy—special days celebrating foods. We rabbits would have to eat at least 1.5+ of the following daily, all the while remembering the admonition of Eat Flexitarian Day: eat more fruit, whole grains, and vegetables, but eat less meat and fish. The Flexitarian Diet is second only to the Mediterranean Diet for overall ranking because it’s simple, healthy, and a straight forward way of eating. Some foods to incorporate and celebrate are Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, Cucumber, Lemon, and Mango.
I like to organize, a trait that used to drive my dear old rabbit mother crazy. I’d put all the drinking glasses of the same size together on the same shelf, while she’d put them up willy nilly, even though they wouldn’t all fit on one shelf if all of them were clean. This is just another example of mother rabbits being realistic, since they know their thirsty rabbit kits will dirty up another glass before the dishwashing is done. I also like to arrange my paint palette in rainbow order, but don’t talk to me about my desk. It’s a mess. At least my spices are in alphabetical order.
June’s menu celebrates World Milk Day. An ice cold glass of milk will go well with any of these National Day Foods: Donuts, Hazelnut Cake, Chocolate Macaroons, Applesauce Cake, German Chocolate Cake, Peanut Butter Cookies, Apple Strudel, Chocolate Eclairs, Fudge, and Cherry Tarts.
Or maybe you’d rather have your sweet treat with some form of ice cream. June celebrates the National Days of Rocky Road and Chocolate Ice Cream, not to mention Ice Cream Cake Day. You can swill your ice cream in a soft drink on Ice Cream Soda Day or enjoy a Black Cow Day: root beer and vanilla ice cream float. Of course if you’re a rabbit who wants your ice cream straight up, but sipped, National Vanilla Milkshake Day was meant for you.
National Iced Tea Day is June 10, but down south, every day is Iced Tea Day. June also covers the menu with national days for eggs, cheese, and veggie burgers. You can make a whole meal out of the national days of corn on the cob, catfish, and onion rings. Please make sure to observe Eat Your Vegetables Day, with Herbs and Spices, and try a Meal Prep Day while you’re at it.
Since America is a great melting pot of many peoples, we have many food cultures. June celebrates several culinary traditions:
Egg Roll Day, Falafel Day, Tapas Day, Sushi Day, Smoothie Day, and Food Truck Day. Get your passport stamped as you leave the cafeteria and please don’t remove your shoes on the way to the dessert counter.
For dessert there’s nothing like seasonal foods. Enjoy National Strawberry Shortcake and Strawberry Parfait Days, or my all time, any time, National Chocolate Pudding Day, or try a new Candy during June or Frozen Yogurt. For a milder taste, go with National Tapioca Day. You also can try the famous Japanese Bubble Tea drink, which has sweet tapioca bubbles as an ingredient. This isn’t like regular iced tea, for the resistant starch of the tapioca bubbles needs time to digest. You don’t want to be famous for “X-ray of stomach shows mass of 100 undigested boba balls.” (Google it!)
Listen to this rabbit so you don’t have to double up on National Prune Day for a reason, but enjoy then for their sweetness, fiber, antioxidants and minerals. Mostly they keep you “regular as clockwork,” with no straining or efforts. This is a good thing if you’ve overindulged on Detroit-Style Pizza Day or under hydrated on National Martini and Olive Days.
But enough of foods! This rabbit hasn’t eaten this much since well, Memorial Day weekend! My family always took any and every gathering as an excuse to feast. I don’t know if it was because my rabbit mom and dad survived the Great Depression or because the generations of my extended family were all Methodists, but if food was available, we were there. And we brought a covered dish if we were traveling to somewhere else. Folks brought food to us when we hosted, but that was how life was when I was a young rabbit. Sharing was our caring.
My dad was a master chef, as long as he stood over the back yard grill. He had charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid down to a science. Never ever did he squirt fluid onto the hot coals—that was asking for his own burnt flesh. Mr. Safety was his other name. He wielded the fork in his right hand and an empty ketchup bottle filled with water in his left hand. If the grease drippings flared up, the repurposed water bottle went into action with a well focused stream to knock it down. He never hit it so hard the fire went out.
Dad even cooked on Father’s Day, because he was The Grill Master. Even when the family bought a gas grill for my birthday, I kid you not, daddy was thrilled because he’d be able to cook for his favorite girl rabbit when I came home from college. Fathers show their love in many different ways. We children can’t design how our fathers show love or order their behaviors. Dads aren’t Burger King hamburgers with cheese, no salt, and no tomatoes. We can’t have them our way.
My dad certainly had a way of cheering me up when I was sure my world was falling apart when I was young. “Cheer up, it could be worse,” he’d say.
“Yeah? How much worse?” I was given to catastrophic thinking as a young rabbit. Everything was a “hair on fire” moment. (In hindsight, most of these weren’t even singed eyebrow moments.)
“Put a bit of this in your mouth,” he said, handing me a bite of his chewing tobacco.
I put it in my mouth and began to chew. As my saliva mixed with the cut tobacco, a bitter taste flooded my mouth. My face twisted every which way possible without leaving my skull.
“Oh, whatever you do, don’t swallow the juice!” He admonished.
“You do this for fun?” I asked.
He laughed, “There are always worse things in life you’ve yet to experience. You can spit it out in the cup now if you want.”
Oh, and spit now I did want. I’m certain nothing is worse than a mouthful of acrid tobacco juice. If I can take that, I can take anything. But I don’t have to endure punishment willingly. I can choose not to suffer. I share this gnostic wisdom, known only to a few, and passed down by word and mouth, literally. I don’t recommend you try it for yourself.
The school of hard knocks is an expensive degree. My daddy had many words of wisdom, not all of which I heeded. “Always have a job before you leave the job you’re in,” is the one I never paid attention to until I became an itinerant minister. Then sometimes I was sent away before I was ready to leave, and sometimes I stayed when people were ready to see me go. Such is life in the Methodist appointment system.
One of my “fathers in the faith” reminded me and others, “You will meet the same people on your way up in ministry as you will on your way down. Consider this as you take your leave of one place and go to another. Don’t forget from where you came. You’ll go back there one day.”
I thought about this one day when one of my church members told me the two largest attendance days were the first and last Sundays of every pastor their church had. When I asked why, he replied, “Because folks first come to see if the preaching is any good and then come to hear how terrible they’ve been.”
Perhaps others continued that pattern after me, but I saw no reason to continue it. Every rabbit, even the most wayward or recalcitrant, will grow gradually in three years. If I couldn’t see evidence of spiritual growth and changes of heart in their lives, I wasn’t worth my salt. I left them in tears, reminding them of who they were and what they had become. I also spoke of the power that would be with them always as they continued their upward path to greater things yet to come.
Since ancient times, fathers have always given their children sage advice. Even the Greek gods of myth and time, before the age of philosophers and kings, believed in fathers as the source of wisdom. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, sprang full grown from the head of Zeus, the King of all the gods on Mount Olympus. Perhaps the Greeks were onto something, for wisdom is acquired by those who survive their rash youthful learning experiences.
Some father figures would keep their children from all harm by never allowing a child take appropriate, age level risks and not preparing them gradually for these rites of passage. We don’t throw a new born child into the deep end of a pool and expect them to swim. Instead, we bathe them, wade them, let them kick as we pull them around the shallow end of the pool, and finally we get their faces underwater to blow bubbles so they can learn to breathe correctly. Finally we’ll teach them how to use their arms in coordination with their feet and breathing so they can travel across the pool.
If we let them on a motorized vehicle, a child is safer on a sanctioned go cart track than on a neighborhood street. This is because he or she would be racing in smaller horse powered carts, with age similar racers. As a wise parent, you’d have to decide if your child has the maturity, focus, and discipline to handle not only her own car, but to be aware of his position relative to other carts on the track. Also, does your child have his emotions under control and is she willing to learn from her mistakes?
Greek mythology has an instructive story of Helios, the sun god, who couldn’t say no to his son Phaeton’s request to drive the sun carriage drawn by the fiery steeds. In Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 750 ff, Helios instructs his son:
“Keep to this route; my wheeltracks there show plain. Press not too low nor strain your course to high; too high, you’ll burn heaven’s palaces; too low, the earth; the safest course lies in between. And neither rightwards towards the twisting Anguis (Snake) nor leftwards swerve to where the Ara (Altar) lies. Hold in the midst! To fortune I resign the rest to guide with wiser wit than yours. See, dewy Nox (Night) [Nyx] upon the Hesperian shore even while I speak has reached her goal. No more may we delay; our duty calls; the day dawns bright, all shadows fled. Come take the reins!
Or take, if yet your stubborn heart will change, my counsel, not my chariot, while you may, while still on firm foundations here you stand before you mount between my chariot wheels, so ignorant, so foolish!–and let me give the world light that you may safely see.”
As in all Greek myths, this didn’t end well for Phaeton, for he couldn’t control the high spirited steeds. As the chariot ricocheted too near the earth, scorching it, and too high in the sky, burning the stars, Zeus blasted the boy with a thunderbolt to save the earth from harm and placed him among the stars in the constellation The Charioteer. His body fell to earth into the river Po. Once again it’s a reminder the middle path is safest and best.
As we polish off the last of the leftovers from Memorial Day, we celebrate D-Day, which commemorates June 6, 1944, the day the Allies invaded Normandy from England during World War II. Every military order has had a day and hour designation since 1918, but this battle on the five French beaches was so large and so difficult to organize, it’s the one we know as “D-Day.” Not only was there a need for a long day, a day near a full moon to guide ships/airborne troops, and strong tides for an amphibious assault, but the Allies had to coordinate politically and militarily to get everyone on board. Eisenhower’s personal notes give us an inkling of the troubles of this endeavor (link below). To date it remains the largest amphibious invasion in history and marked the beginning of the end of World War II. It also marked the end of the Nazi regime led by Hitler, which was responsible for the death of over 6 million Jews.
As a small rabbit, who’s startled at any sharp noise and frightened by even the shadows of passing clouds, since it might be a hungry predator, the thoughts of wars set me to trembling, trembling, trembling, like the lyrics of the old slave spiritual, “Steal Away:”
“Green trees are bending, poor sinners stand trembling; The trumpet sounds it in my soul, I ain’t got long to stay here.”
Yet appeasing tyrants never ends well, as Winston Churchill noted: “Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured. But I fear greatly that the storm will not pass. It will rage and it will roar ever more loudly, ever more widely.”
Speaking of storms, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, and we can expect the first named storm to form in mid to late June. We rabbits who enjoy a beach vacation always need to keep a weather eye out. Not only do we need to be aware of the intense sun, especially for our baby rabbits, but if the city officials issue evacuation orders for extreme weather, we ought to leave, even if we give up vacation days. While we’re at the beach, or the lake or poolside this summer, we can read or listen to books. June is audiobook appreciation month, but books with pages are more likely better suited to beaches, since high heat and small grains of sands can adversely affect expensive cellphones, tablets, and readers.
Another way we can pass our summer and stretch our minds is to try new experiences. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. If we only exercise the same brain paths, but fail to build new ones, our brains become “clogged up.” This is rabbit speak for what doctors call Tau protein tangles. Dementia seldom only causes Alzheimer’s-related changes in the brain. Any number of vascular issues—problems that affect blood vessels, such as beta-amyloid deposits in brain arteries, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and mini-strokes—may also be at play. Vascular problems may lead to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain, as well as a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, which usually protects the brain from harmful agents while allowing in glucose and other necessary factors.
My dad, a brilliant doctor, had Alzheimer’s disease in his later life. While he remembered all of his medical training, he knew none of his family in his later years. He also confused my large poster of Captain Picard I had taped on the parsonage back door with an actual person. I kept “Picard” there as a reminder to MAKE IT SO, but daddy thought I had a strange balding man standing in my laundry room.
In someone with Alzheimer’s, a faulty blood-brain barrier prevents glucose (energy) from reaching the brain and prevents the clearing away of toxic beta-amyloid and tau proteins. This results in inflammation, which adds to vascular problems in the brain. Because it appears that Alzheimer’s is both a cause and consequence of vascular problems in the brain, researchers are seeking interventions to disrupt this complicated and destructive cycle. All the more reason for us to eat more plants, less fried foods, more complex carbohydrates, and fewer animal fats.
June is also Professional Wellness Month and National Men’s Health Month. America workers tend to get about 11 days of paid vacation and 6 paid holidays per year, but more than half of these reported not using all their days off. Even those energizer bunnies who have unlimited paid time off tend to take only 10 days of vacation, and nearly half of them work at some point in time during their vacation.
When I went on vacation, I told my church secretary to call me if the church burned down or someone died. They should be able to handle most anything else. Most of what I was going to do from some distant location was encourage them and help arrange a substitute if I couldn’t get back in time. God may be available all the time, but small rabbits and vulnerable humans must rest and restore their energies to be ready for the next excitement that’s sure to come.
If you haven’t yet planned your summer vacation, you’re in luck. June is Great Outdoors Month and National Camping Month. You can take your rabbit family to the Oceans or to the Rivers, or you can visit a Zoo and an Aquarium. It’s also Women’s Golf Month, but you can take the rest of the rabbit family with you and have a good time on the links. If you want to stick closer to home, remember June is a fine time to enjoy the exercise in the dirt. It’s Perennial Gardening Month and National Rose Month. Do a service for your garden during National Pollinators Month. Plant basil and dill alongside your tomato plants to discourage hornworms. The scents also attract pollinators like butterflies and other beneficial insects.
On a personal note, I’m looking forward to a summer full of crisp lettuce and tomato sandwiches on toasted whole wheat bread with avocado slices. In fact, that sounds so good, I may have to have one now, since I don’t have time to make a hazelnut cake. Here’s to books, beaches, and the bronzed bodies of summer.
Joy and peace,
June Holidays and Observances 2023: Full Calender
2023 NCAHM Official Book List – CaribbeanReads
When is the first day of summer? Summer solstice dates explained.
Season Definition: When Do They Start?
What Is the Flexitarian Diet? – Cleveland Clinic
NATIONAL BLACK COW DAY – June 10, 2023 – National Today
How To Make Tapioca Pearls At Home – Experiences
Creamy Coleslaw with Prunes (Ready in 5 Minutes!) – Ignite Nutrition
Should I Let My Kid Drive a Go-Kart? – Our Definitive Guide | Utah Motorsports Campus
PHAETHON – Son of the Sun-God of Greek Mythology
Unknown Artist: Fall of Phaeton, Greek marble Roman sarcophagus, Ca. 150-170 AD., Height: 62 cm; length 220 cm.,
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi.
Eisenhower Library: Conditions in Normandy
Steal Away Lyrics
An Appeaser Is One Who Feeds a Crocodile, Hoping It Will Eat Him Last – Quote Investigator®
Tropical Cyclone Climatology
What Happens to the Brain in Alzheimer’s Disease? | National Institute on Aging
Average PTO In USA & Other PTO Statistics (2023) – Forbes Advisor
10 Tips for Building a Pollinator Garden | The Old Farmer’s Almanac