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The season is changing rapidly, with spring moving into the sticky, hot, St. Louis summer. Last night as I took this photograph, I needed to be well-coated with N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide to keep the mosquitos off – a small bottle of 100% DEET is an essential member of my summer camera equipment. Even so, a cloud of bugs hovered over me, keeping a slight distance and obviously sniffing for any chink in my repellent armor.

They, or I should say, their descendents will be around until October. They used to bother me a lot, but after suffering a couple of summers with their Canadian siblings, the Missouri insects seem almost benign.

Nonetheless, it is the appearance of the biting insects that is the true mark of summer's beginning for me. It's hot now, and we have the air conditioning on as of yesterday, but as long as I could sit in the garden chair without a swarm zeroing in on me, I could kid myself that it was still spring.

No longer. But that's just fine, because summer itself had its own special qualities. One of these is the changing quality of the natural light. Partly because of the dirty Midwestern air, and partly because of the heavy humidity, a haze that filters in favor of the red end of the spectrum settles over the land. During bright daylight, it is most noticable as generating hot-air distortions over long distances, but at the beginning and end of the day it produces glorious rich color.

So that is why I stand in the buggy evenings with a camera waiting for the sun to go down. Yesterday, it was so beautiful and so peaceful that I felt that deep bonding with the land that refreshes my soul and, more importantly, gives me a sense of belonging and place. It has taken a long time for such feelings to grow in relation to Missouri but they are now there and they are very meaningful. Another part of this world has claimed me.

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