The chill of spring is over and last week we had a taste of summer with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid and even upper 80s.

School is ending for most kids and thoughts and activities quickly turn to the outdoors. Vacations are being planned and this year like last is showing an increase in summer activities.

Stores that sell bikes, fishing gear and outdoor equipment are doing a brisk business. After the long siege of covid, folks are ready to be outside enjoying what nature has to offer. The bike and hiking trails are busy and Ohiopyle State Park should see plenty of visitors as it has so much to offer.

I have noticed a steady increase in the number of long-distance bikers using the trail. The Great Allegheny Passage has become one of the best in the country.

Closer to home, Mother Nature has shifted her attention to our own front and back yards.

The spring wildflowers are finished and overhead the tree canopy is in full leaf. It’s been an exceptionally beautiful spring without any real widespread killing frost or freeze and this is leading to some beautifully blooming flowers, bushes and shrubs.

Almost every yard has a beautiful purple Rhododendron in bloom. They started in the urban areas in mid-May and have now spread throughout all of Southwestern Pennsylvania. These are the cultivated or hybrid varieties and also come in pink, white and scarlet. They bloom after the danger of frost and our deer population seem to leave them alone. They require little maintenance and continue to bloom year after year.

Just as they begin to fade the native Mountain Laurel begin to bloom in early June and then around the first of July the native white Rhododendron bloom on our forested shady hillsides. As I write this our Lavender Lilac bush is in full bloom and the fragrance can be sensed as soon as you step outside.

As for the forecast, the taste of summer we have been experiencing should be replaced with some cooler weather this weekend and temperatures for the first week of June look to be closer to average of mid-70s.

Looking ahead, summer is forecast to see above average temperatures and normal to just a bit above rainfall.

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