The old adage about April showers bringing May flowers is usually true in the South, and my corner of Tennessee has definitely gotten its share of both. I’m wondering what May showers bring... other than the stifling humidity for which Southern summers are known. I’m guessing some headaches for local farmers wanting to get spring planting done would be part of that answer as well.

That humidity can be oppressive. Who doesn’t love reading 95 on the thermometer with air so thick you can taste it. But there is something to be said for watching an afternoon thunderstorm roll through. When the wind whips up, it can roar like a freight train at top speed as it whistles through our trees.. That was quite unnerving the first time I heard it, and Vince and I took bets on how many trees we would lose. 

I have come to learn summer storms can be interesting... scary like a roller coaster ride but awe-inspiring with their sheer power.

As spring starts to look more like summer, the critters that surround my house have seemingly gotten more brazen.

First came the pair of snakes that slithered into the dryer vent, one venturing into my dryer motor. Now the squirrels, with our dog Spock no longer with us to patrol the premises, venture right up to the sliding glass door in our bedroom. They press up against the glass as if casing the place. Not that I mind the squirrels much, they’re pretty cute running through the trees, but my habit of leaving the door open on cooler mornings to enjoy the breeze might have to be curtailed unless our remaining dog Bones inherits the job of keeping them at bay.

And since he only noticed the squirrel after it started tapping on the glass, I don’t hold out much hope for that.

But some of the wildlife is much more enjoyable to appreciate....such as the mated pair of cardinals that are now summering in our back yard for a third (if not longer) consecutive year.

On the other hand.....I’m still anxiously awaiting the skunk that has found it’s way into the basement the last two summers, no matter what we do. On the plus side, I have yet to find a spider web or cicada down there, so it’s a trade-off.

And after almost two years, a wasp getting into the house doesn’t freak me out, I just get a newspaper or more often shoo it out of the house.

Sometimes the small victories mean the most.

I usually don’t comment about local happenings since we moved, but I wanted to give kudos to Gustine for its efforts to do their best regarding two very important events.

The efforts of all involved, from the city to the school district and everyone in between, to give graduating students a a ceremony on their scheduled graduation day is to be applauded. While not traditional, the moment will certainly be memorable for both students and families. Giving students their recognition on the day they were scheduled to graduate gives them back a piece of what was lost. And while it will not be the graduation ceremony everyone envisioned, it will be a great night for the students who have worked so hard.

That same community spirit can be found in those working hard to try to hold Gustine’s Fourth of July fireworks show despite the pandemic and affiliated restrictions. I applaud the City Council for looking for ways to make at least a part of the traditional July 4 festivities happen.

It’s nice to see that community spirit alive and well when so much in our world has changed.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at or by calling (209) 862-2222.