The Black-Eyed Susans are in bloom. They have taken over a wedge-shaped flower bed in our front yard. Their bobbing, cheerful heads are covered with busy pollinators, with some dragonflies hovering nearby, in an advisory capacity. Just a few of the plants have fallen victim to passing bunnies, but we think it would be churlish to complain much. Last year I waged a war with the hungry rabbits, trying to repel them by spraying a noxious homemade liquid, which combined Tabasco sauce, garlic powder and watered-down dishwashing liquid. It was not a pleasant way to spend the summer, and the bunnies won in the end. This year we share nature’s bounty. And the atmosphere is much less fraught.Karma being what it is, we seem to have even more Black-Eyed Susans than we did last year.
The Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is the Maryland state flower. They are integral to the Preakness Stakes. We missed out on making Black-Eyed Susan cocktails for the Preakness this year, mostly because we had an irresistible bottle of Prosecco standing by. This summer it is fitting to cut an armful of Black-Eyed Susan flowers as a floral tribute to summer when you make a batch of cool Black-Eyed Susan punch. I daresay you will be cheered up when you taste this fruity cup of Maryland sunshine.
Here is a little Black-Eyed Susan cocktail history, as its ingredients seem to vary from year to year. You need to find your favorite era: https://www.thespruceeats.com/black-eyed-susan-cocktail-recipe-761413
We haven’t done much entertaining yet this summer, as we are still being COVID-cautious and slightly neurotic. We will be celebrating a family birthday in a couple of weeks, and it will be the first time we’ve seen this branch since November. The children will have grown like weeds (that the rabbits would ignore), and will be unrecognizable, and brilliant, and hilarious. We will need to keep our wits about us, so the idea of cold and tasty mocktails is appealing. You might not want to have an alcoholic drink for your summertime revels. Here is a delightful, refreshing and decidedly non-alcoholic punch for the whole family: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/virgin-hurricanes/ It is hurricane season, after all.
Our clever friends at Food52 have done lots of valuable research regarding non-alcoholic drinks. They work tirelessly for our behalf! https://food52.com/drinks/non-alcoholic/26300-best-nonalcoholic-cocktail-recipes?
We are halfway through summer, with all of August heat looming up ahead. Pace yourself, stay cool, lurk in the shadows and watch for bees, bunnies and burgeoning summer flowers in the garden. The zinnias are just beginning to bloom, and soon there will be sunflowers.
“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
― Ray Bradbury