My Favorite Time of Year – News From May and Early June

 - by Alex Zorach

My favorite time of year is winding down, but the cool, humid breeze blowing in my window right now reminds me of the weather a few weeks back.  My favorite month of the year is may, which is now past, but early June still feels similar to me.  During early May is the peak of songbird migration, and I often scale back my work a little bit in order to get a chance to get out and watch birds as much as possible.

Less Work on RateTea

Owing both to my move, which turned out to be a lot more stressful than I had anticipated, and to the bird migration, I didn’t work on RateTea quite as much as I normally do during May.  However, I did get to work on some new features, and had some renewed free time as May closed out.

One result which I just finished and have yet to publicize in an official post (readers here will get an inside head start on it), at the request of one of our newest reviewers, Sarsonator, I added a “wishlist” feature, which allows you to add or save teas to this list, a lot like a list of bookmarks.

Birding Results

I did a ton of birding in May, and gathered great data for eBird, which is a way to turn a hobby into a volunteer bird surveying effort to advance science and conservation efforts.  By the end of May I had boosted my life list for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania to include 113 species!  My rarest find this migration season was a Summer Tanager a bit out of its native range; you can click on the image if you want to learn more about this particular sighting:

An all red bird with no crest, perched on a bare branch in a lush deciduous forest

Summer tanager in Alverthorpe Park, Abington Township, PA.

Besides the birds, another one of the things I love most about this time of year is the lush green foliage.  Here is a plant I have grown rather fond of over the past few years; this plant blooms in the fall, but I also love the foliage at this time of year:

I love it in part because it’s a native plant (I’ve been planting a lot of native plants recently, in my garden, those of friends, and in unmaintained wild areas that are overrun with invasive plants).  I also love it because it’s one of the most shade-tolerant of the plants in the aster family.  I have a strange affinity for shade-tolerant plants, a broad class of plants that incidentally includes the species Camellia sinsensis.

I also included the white wood aster on a newly published page I made on shade-tolerant asters of Eastern North America, which you can read if you want to learn about this and other similar plants.

Temperatures Are Not Too Hot, Still Drinking Lots of Hot Tea

Another thing about this time of year that I also love is the temperature, which typically ranges from pleasantly cool to warm-but-not-too-hot.  This year, the humidity has been consistently high, which is something that some people dislike, but I tend not to mind too much.

When it’s 55-65 at night and the highs get up to 70-87 on typical days, which has been the typical range over the past four weeks or so, I tend to drink just as much hot tea as I do during the winter.  This allows me to get through lots of samples and still have lots of tea that I can just drink for my own enjoyment.  Recently I’ve been most impressed with teas from TeaVivre, Happy Earth Tea, and Mellow Monk, among others.

During the peak of the summer, I do scale back my hot tea drinking a bit, and switch to iced tea, but thankfully, I’m not quite there yet.  I actually haven’t made a single batch of iced tea yet.

What do you think?

  • Do you think a wishlist feature is a good idea for RateTea?
  • Do you also like this time of year?  Or do you have another, different favorite time of year?
  • Have you ever thought much about the topic of gardening with native plants as a way to restore and protect ecosystems?
  • How hot does it have to get before you scale back your hot tea drinking?  Have you already scaled back long before this time of year rolls around, or do you go all-out even through the hottest days?

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