Peak of summer, the year’s flood tide, livin’ is easy

July 28, 2017

High summer. The fullness of the season. Crepe myrtles screaming with color. Cantaloupes, peaches, blueberries, sweet corn and tomatoes coming on with glorious abundance. “Fish are jumping and the cotton is high.” Porgy and Bess. George and Ira Gershwin, and DuBose Heyward.

The Coastal Highway full with vacationers. Businesses doing everything right reporting a strong season so far. If it’s strong now, it will remain strong right on through to Christmas.

We’re at the year’s flood tide. The cleanest tide, the fullest tide, the tide that magnifies the size and color of blue crabs clinging to the base of golden-green grasses along the edges of guts that riddle our prolific marshes.

This flood tide started rising back in January, after the winter solstice when the days were shortest and all the moisture and sap had fully retreated into the roots and the ground. The leaves all fallen.

Then, with the urging of longer days, the sap and moisture started their slow rise, back through the roots and into the trunks and eventually filling out the new leaves and buds of spring, and blossoms and fruits and seeds of summer. A six-month-long flooding seasonal tide that has brought us to the peak of summer. And now, with days shortening again following the June 21 summer solstice, the flooding tide is making its slow turn to become an ebbing tide. The leaves are just beginning their drying-out process as moisture and sap begin their slow retreat back to the roots.

Thankfully this semiannual tide takes its own sweet time, and we can enjoy this top of the tide for several weeks.

White ibises and Molly

Two weeks ago, out around Gordons Pond, I saw a flock of about 25 unusual birds circling. Most of them were white, a few streaked with the darker colors of immaturity. They were white ibises. Easy to identify if you look closely because of their long curved bill and short wing beat.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen white ibis this far north. Used to be, they only made it as far north as the Carolinas. We have plenty of glossy ibis here along the coast, but never before, to my knowledge, the white ibises.

I thought about another local journalist, Molly Murray, when I looked at the birds. I could feel the competitive juices. The white ibises are news, and I felt sure Molly would be getting on the story.

A longtime reporter for the News Journal who lived in Lewes, Molly loved to write about the environment and birds and all of their implications. She would take a subject deep, and her readers would come away from her reporting with a deeper understanding of the natural world around them.

I used the past tense when writing that Molly lived in Lewes because she died unexpectedly last week following a bout with pancreatitis. At 61, way too young, and in the prime of her journalistic skills and acquired knowledge. We are all the lesser for her loss.

In honor of Molly and her kind, gentle, thorough, and infinitely curious spirit, I will do deeper research on the unexpected arrival this year of white ibises and their implications. Stay tuned.

Remembering Jack Beach

Before a full year is out, I also want to acknowledge the loss of another local and longtime journalist and publisher. Jack Beach, who hired me back in 1975 to work at a fledgling weekly he had just started called The Whale, passed away on Nov. 29, 2016.

Jack had the same curiosity that Molly exhibited. He loved news - community news in particular - wrote histories about the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse and the breakwaters at the mouth of Delaware Bay, was involved as publisher of many newspapers including Delaware State News, and stayed true to his namesake by living a long and active life in Rehoboth Beach.

Remarkably, Jack died on the same date of his birth - Nov. 29 - but 93 years later. I will be forever indebted to him for hiring me and allowing me to build a journalism career in one of the great places on this planet.

Look here: classic cars

A few weeks ago I was bicycling through a parking lot at Indian River Inlet and spotted a vintage Chevrolet Impala parked in the shadow of the inlet bridge. It was a nice juxtaposition of old and new: the classic car and the 21st-century-style bridge.

I photographed it, all the while thinking about how many businesses are starting to place classic vehicles out in front of their entrances to attract attention. A Metropolitan in front of the Cactus Café, tricked out and antique Jeeps parked in front of the Crooked Hammock and occasionally in front of Waves car wash. Sam Calagione’s classic red pickup truck that brought attention to his Dogfish brand. Now it’s green, probably in honor of the citrusy northwestern hops that make his brews so compelling.

America’s love affair with automobiles and history continue on with this trend.

  • Dennis Forney has been a journalist on the Delmarva Peninsula since 1972 and has been writing his Barefootin’ column for The Whale and then the Cape Gazette for more than 30 years. Contact Dennis at