It’s full-on summer in the North, and all the wild things know it. The lilacs at the end of the drive have a few lavender blossoms left up high, but most are past their prime or have been claimed for dining-room table arrangements.

Along country roads, spires of lupine in blues and pinks are standing tall. Seems early for the lupines to be so far along, but then I’m pretty sure I think that every year. I don’t want summer getting away from me.

Early-morning walkers move along through woods full of June birdsong. The whitethroats are calling "Old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody;" the veery thrushes sound like they’re spiraling through a downspout; and the raucous ovenbirds are outshouting them all. If you take an evening walk out on the little boardwalk off Old Hartley Road, you’ll be serenaded by a melodious rose-breasted grosbeak.

We had gathered with friends on our veranda porch the other night, and a bruiser of a black bear came a-trundling across the neighbor’s front yard, then lumbered on through their backyard into the maple woods. That got all of us excited — first yard bear in quite a while.

I hustled off to get my iPhone so I could take a really poor photo of a black blob, possibly with legs, moving behind the birches in our yard. But when the kids live overseas, you have to document these events to remind them from time to time of what they’re missing here.

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We found real summer last weekend when we drove south for an hour to the wedding of a young woman who grew up next door. The wedding was on the groom’s family farm, with old red barns, wide green pastures and, grazing somewhere, 50 head of bulls that real cowboys will try to ride at county fairs this summer.

The thermometer registered 91 degrees at game time. We all sat in the shade under white canopies, fanned our faces and remembered when we took those same vows. It’s good to hear the vows repeated now and then to see if you’re still living up to them.

By the time we hit Duluth on the way home, an east wind off Lake Superior had sent 59-degree air wafting through town, and we threw open all the windows in the house. Heaven.

Some friends of ours took in the first weekly “Beer Garden” night of the summer at Glensheen last Wednesday.

“Lovely down there,” he reported afterward by text. “Classic Duluth evening. A thousand-footer came through, (and the) Wednesday-night regatta. We hung out on the jetty in the sun. Pretty spectacular.”

Full-on summer in Duluth.

Sam Cook is a freelance writer for the News Tribune. Reach him at or find his Facebook page at