A universal struggle of women; expectations of perfection. Particularly size. The size of our tummies, our bottoms, thighs, bosoms, backfat, holey buckets. I hear women daily, voicing self-disgust about themselves, even women who seem to have the body ideal. Body image remains an issue.
I’ve noted clothing sources and vendors finally becoming more inclusive of all sizes in advertising. Supportive moves in changing the perspective and the mentality. Even more so, when we adjust our own thinking to “hey - that size 14 model is cute in that” rather than “why didn’t they put a thin girl, a tall girl, a flawless face in that ad?” I love seeing a woman featured in an ad in a wheelchair, or a full, rounded woman, or a woman who has matured with soft places and laugh lines. Our own perceptions make all the difference, and decades ago, the ethos of beauty morphed into something that is exclusive rather than inclusive of all women.
I like my body, some days. Other days, I regress into chagrin over my roundness. I remind women constantly - you are wonderful exactly as you are. Still, the stigma of not being slim remains in the back of my own gray matter.
The universe is filled with unique, fabulous women. We don’t all look the same, why would we choose to? Why base our perception of ourselves or others on how the clothing hangs on our bodies? An old mentor of mine used to talk about the tape recordings in our brains. Old messages are difficult to erase, habits of self-degradation persist, rather than self-acceptance. I use productive self-talk. Softness is pretty. Round and curvy - pretty. I’ve made it almost to sixty-five. Guess what? Age is beauty.
Some days I see myself in the mirror and I think - looking good! Then, I catch a glimpse of myself in a storefront window or a photo and groan inwardly. I’ll continue to talk to my own self and move my brain process from ugh - I need to lose twenty pounds (and why exactly do I?) to looking great, sixty-four and kinda cute!
It takes time to learn to view the reality through eyes not altered by media standards, to see what we are really looking at. We are all sizes, all shapes, all ages. We can see beyond what we consider faults to admire the beauty that exists, by changing the idea that comeliness equates to a particular size and weight. It’s a conscious decision to change perspective to one that sees beauty in all sizes.
I’ve not had a new bathing suit since 2019. That suit was a winner, I remember when I modeled it for the hubs he said “wow!” That, along with seeing myself in a positive light, in a swimsuit of ALL things, prompted me to continue wearing it past its prime. By 2020, the bottom (of the suit!) had gotten a little flappy. I have not replaced that suit, because in 2020 we sold our home with a pool and built a new home - sans pool. A new suit was not a priority. But I have friends with pools and honestly, while I like the way that old suit appears from the front, the back is a bit - um - loose down at the bum. These busy weeks, I’ve not made time to torment myself in a dressing room trying on swimsuits. The process is awful, in hot, cramped dressing rooms, under unflattering light, seeing ourselves in skin-tight costumes…oh lawwww. Sometimes, I see myself in undies and a little camisole and think “This is not bad. why can’t a bathing suit look like this?” They simply don’t.
I took my search online from my comfy chair, still no easy task. I waited until June and stocks are depleted. Poor B.O.B. For an entire evening, he tried making little comments and quips to cheer me up while I agonized over swimsuits and measurements, to be met with Crabby Biddy responding. I am thankful in noting that tolerance is one of his key attributes. (I did apologize for my stressed self, later. But no - I was not seeking a purple polka dot bikini.) I was heartened to see a few catalog listings with women who are not skinny, tall models. I thought they looked great! Why don’t I allow myself this grace? Gonna! Two nights later I sucked it up and pressed “buy.” The swimsuits I ordered are trickling in via mail and UPS. I’ll try them on and make choices. There may be shrieking. There may be moaning. But as God is my witness - I will seek out the good-looking parts and not dwell on my round tummy. I’ll find a suit and I will enjoy wearing it while enjoying pool times with pals. I’m gonna wear the suit - you too!
Skinny dipping in the tree lined privacy of my old digs is no longer an option.
16 June 23
Reprinted from The Blue Ribbon News
Mother Nature has treated us kindly with a stunning spring garden season. We have been granted regular rains and an abundance of moderate, pleasant weather. The garden is exceptionally lovely, brimming with color this year.
Perennials come into their own on the third year. The Mildscape has reached that third year. Plants have established and filled in with lush confidence. Not all make it, it’s never a sure thing. If they are still here, they have certainly rooted and spring forth with confidence. Rising through the soil, sprouting green shoots and round mounds, with promises of flora. I watch eagerly for signs of blooming, and then wowie! One day the buds have burst into brilliant, splashy flowers. I have fertilized, nurtured, weeded, staked, and protected. Verdant prizes stand proud, mound comfortably, reach far beyond their allotted space. It’s the cycle of all the worthwhile things that we put our hearts into.
I am in awe of what develops in the smallest patch, with good soil, seeds or seedlings, sore knees, and dirty hands. I’m certain the sweat of my brow has particularly rich growth hormones, my garden certainly receives that bounty! I dig, snip, learn from mistakes and from successes, sit on the garden bench and take it all in. I never tire of the vibrant scene that dances in front of my eyes. The garden holds peace, satisfaction, aggravation, determination, utter joy, delight, obsession, wonder. It’s just so good.
We left town for two days this past weekend, returning late afternoon, on Sunday. I will swear on a stack of Neil Sperry books that the burgeoning plants flourished by inches while we were away. Blooms seemed brighter. The tree rose that I had deadheaded after its first bloom, put out scads of new buds in the past week. They opened into vivid blossoms while we were gone for that short period.
Before heading out of town, we attended the awards ceremony at my granddaughter’s middle school. Staff notified her parents that she would be receiving an award. We were delighted, thrilled, awed as she received ten awards that day. Just yesterday she was a little pixie, creeping out of bed in the early morning to go to my craft room to cut and paste creations with little plastic scissors and a glue stick, dumping glitter into the carpeting, and reading books under the covers with a flashlight after being tucked in at night. Suddenly, she is on the brink of entering high school, headed for a scholastic tour of New York and Washington D.C. this summer, as well as Kentucky to represent Texas in National Spelling Bee. She has thrived and blossomed, and more blooms form as she grows, participates, achieves. It happens so quickly. Her little brother’s awards ceremony is this week at the elementary school. We have watched him shoot up as well, with a sharp brain and a wit of his own. I am eager to see what is bearing fruit in his cosmos. Parents plant, nurture, do the hard work; grandparents nurture and enjoy the blooming. It’s just so good.
I had help mulching the garden last week. With the multitude of plantings, it is no easy task to navigate, and I’m thankful the job is done. Summer heat is imminent, weeds are developing under the thick mulch, baby grasshoppers are quickly growing into greedy monsters to devour tender leaves and blooms. I will weed out unwanted creepers, feed the flowers, fight the good fight against pests, water sufficiently. The work is ongoing in the garden. Another task awaits nearly every day.
The rewards are endless.
22 May 23
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
I saw a photo of my mom on TV last night. We have some sort of screen saver on the television, I cannot recall how it works or how I set it up. It would have been me that set it up, because, sadly, I am the technical agent in this house, and that is a funny thing. At one point I must have been inspired, some electronic device must have shown the way, and I added a bunch of photos.
The screen usually pops up pictures of the grandbabies in years past, and I exclaim “awwww - look at Bubba…” or “Lil P! She was such a thing!” Sometimes some weird photo of a chair or Christmas decoration will pop up - that would be a blooper, but darned if I know how to change it. We don’t leave the television on enough to see the photos often or I might try to figure out how to update the images.
The photo of my mom caught us both, yesterday. I think we had watched some news and were waiting to begin a program, so the TV stayed on, not on a channel, but in that Lalaland of icons and banners we click to bring up Yellowstone 1923 or Ted Lasso. There was Mom, in the care center, where she spent her final thirty days. She had the peach and coral patchwork quilt spread across her lap. Despite colors that do not fit in my décor, it is the quilt folded on the arm of my chair and is often on my lap. It’s not much of a quilt for very cold evenings, just more of a comfort, because it was Mom’s. The hospice brought it to her; a quiltmakers guild provides hospice patients with these sweet offerings to bring a bright spot into a difficult time, for those nearing the end. Mom was in our care at her end, my sisters both being further north in the Midwest. I saw her quilt every day. It is dear to my heart.
There she was in the hospital bed, her own blue pillowcase on the pillow. I would launder her pillowcases, iron, and bring them from home. Those touches made her more at ease in a strange place that did not have the most pleasant scent (Mom’s home always had a soft whiff of sandalwood and other sniffs of soft fragrance.) We had photos on a pin board on the wall, framed photos scattered on surfaces. I kept flowers in her room, freshened every week. Full, loose arrangements, always with Alstroemeria in the mix- that’s what she loved. Surely my floral style is what it is, because I soaked in every bit of flair I have, from my mother.
When I spotted her photo on the television screen, looking out at us, I stopped. I sat still and looked at her eyes gazing directly into mine. By the time this photo was taken, Mom was close to the end of her days with us. She was in pain, shrunken, her eyes strangely dark, the pupils huge. That must have been from the morphine that she required for the pain, though it caused so many more unpleasant side effects. Her eyes strike me when I see that photo; and I usually look briefly, knowing I can no longer see her smile at me from under a wide brimmed hat, comfortably ensconced in a cushioned patio chair, enjoying a bowl of ice cream. I like to gaze at such photos. But Mom’s eyes haunt me in this shot. I think it is that those eyes were telling me I could not help her anymore. I could not bring her a bright spot anymore, provide something lush and lovely to fill her spirit, or crack a silly joke to make us both laugh hysterically, together.
I remember years ago, in my early twenties, when Mom and I still repeated the yearly tradition of making scads and scads of Christmas cookies, piled in tins and Tupperware containers in our kitchens for the season. It was a day long process, though Mom began the night before, preparing several of the doughs that needed refrigeration before rolling out or squishing through the cookie press. Mom was Vice President of a bank and took a day off each year for cookie making. We had reached late afternoon of the cookie making marathon, getting punchy and silly. Something - I have not a clue anymore what - struck us so funny. We both ended up on the floor of Mom’s small kitchen, backs against the cupboards, knees up, laughing until we cried, then laughing some more. This is the way I prefer to remember my Mama.
I saw my momma's eyes, eyes that at the end hurt me deeply because I could not take away the misery that wracked her. The endless path and the steps to take her beyond were something she had to do on her own, nothing I could do would give her companionship in the abyss between life and death.
Yesterday I looked directly at that photo and into her eyes. I looked for longer than I have in the eight years since she moved up to heaven. I know, ensconced in that state of mercy and grace, in the forever light, she sees me exactly as I am. I know she is there, somewhere, looking down at me and encouraging me on as she always has. There is never a day in my life that I don’t know how much my mom loves me, how proud she is with anything I have accomplished in my life. How much she loves my people. This is the most wonderful gift my mom gave me. Her love is with me always.
Love you too, Ma.
03 May 2023
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
A restored house, with whitewashed wood walls, porches and screen doors open to the beauty, on a good-sized plot of land, in the Texas Hill Country or somewhere in Tennessee, better still; a stone cottage in the Cotswolds, would be the dream photo in my brain. The kitchen, light filled, with sash windows open to the breeze, and the farmhouse sink, rescued from an old barn. The décor, my eclectic, character filled style, reminiscent of English country cottages, would fill the home. Gravel walks and small beds of flowers everywhere, country living style. Rustic, not uncomfortably so, just right Goldilocks! You know - a house with a story. Perhaps a tale of the original occupants, of the families who brought up their children in this home, children in bare feet and soft, worn overalls, hints of times past whispering in the attic, stairs that creak underfoot.
This scenario does not fit with life with my mate who, at nearly seventy-five, continues to be engaged in his work, which requires living within thirty minutes of his Court and in proximity to Dallas, where he maintains presence at a law firm, and as a mentor at the law school; and who is not a fixer up, handy kind of guy. I choose wholeheartedly to live wherever he is because I am so terribly fond of him. A place in the countryside in the Hill Country or Tennessee seems not to be in our books.
In 2020, we sold our larger home, two story, with a green hilled suburban lot, a pool, stone walled planting beds, trees, and all; to build a perfectly sized home, for us; senior(ish) empty nesters. We chose a spot in midst of suburbia, with nary a tree and a tiny plot, which I can manage by myself, as I am the garden worker and landscaper. The B.O.B. is the chosen admirer of my labors of love. The build took seven months, during which we lived in a leased townhouse.
When digging commenced we were ecstatic, and when the slab was poured, we named our growing home Mildred, and branded her as such in thick, black Sharpie. Who knows? Someday someone may find her name inscribed in permanent black marker on the foundation. When her framing went up, I took that Sharpie (kept in the glovebox during the build for just such purposes) and penned phrases and verses onto the wood framing in Mildred, to give her a sense of direction and spirit. We visited multiple times a week, and snapped photos, multitudes of photos. We were delighted when the windows were installed, over the moon when we found the farmhouse sink plumbed in. I took our Facebook friends through the long, arduous months of building with weekly status posts. Bless their hearts. Somehow, they endured and lived to tell the story. The build culminated in the joy of opening the door and stepping through Mildred’s portal, into our home on closing day, the end of April 2021. The year that followed was filled with social media posts to disclose to all (bless their hearts) our development, my madcap decorating pace and the even madder pace at which I established the garden, that first spring and summer.
All of this to say - I realized this morning - we have written the story of our home, Mildred. Mildred is modest and fetching, comfortable, a happy home. As we embark on our third year with Mildred, we continue to be infatuated with her, warm and sheltered in winter, cool and rested during summers; delighted to abide in this place which is so perfectly us. The B.O.B. has his comfy chair at the far back of the house, in front of the living room windows, where he can look forward and see our life, in Mildred. It’s all there stretched before him in view, the home, the peace, the life; the cat lying on his back, all four paws in the air.
I will always admire the charm of those old homes, restored and adored. Our own beloved Mildred contains the story of us. I hope, as the trees grow and the gardens mature, she’ll be preparing for the day in the far away future, when the next family steps in to feel the love and continue the chapters in the story of our home, Mildred.
It was Fate.
14 April 2023
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
It’s getting on towards March and I feel myself coming back to life.
I become slumpy in the second month of the year. Projects set aside for winter months are drudgery in February. Photo albums are stacked in the guest room, archival boxes stacked alongside, waiting for me. I am more inclined to read, or play word games on the iPad, telling myself the game is good for my brain. Projects come to a thudding halt in winter’s dregs. The garden is dormant, dull gray and brown, but for Dwarf Yaupons and evergreen trees. A few of the vines are nearly evergreen, but sparser and lifeless in winter months.
Recently, gazing out the bedroom windows, I noticed bright yellow buds emerging on the Carolina Jessamine. Leaves still burnt from hard freeze, the sunny colored buds pop, nonetheless. Something sparks at my core, a sense of delight and excitement for what is forthcoming. Teaser days of balmy weather in February make perennials leap a bit and I begin to percolate. Smattered stretches of sunny warm days in February open me to new possibilities, I know for certain that spring will come again this year.
Bob Kilgore and I eagerly await mild mornings and radiant sun for passing the hours in The Mildscape. (Clarification for those who are new or not paying attention: Bob Kilgore is the cat. The B.O.B. is my ever-enduring husband.) Bob and I are chomping at the bit for spring. He has had a taste of pleasantly warm days again, and has difficulty comprehending why I will not accompany him outdoors on chilly, windy mornings. By the time December rolls around, Bob is accustomed to spending most of his time snoozing, making craters in the sofa’s back cushions, dozing on a thick, sheared fleece blanket in front of the fireplace, or watching the world go by from his carpeted cat perch in the study. He has poked his head out the back door enough times to know – there are no warm breezes, and is content to remain within. Once we have a smidge of warm weather, he is relentless in sitting at the door, meowing to go outside. I want to be out there too.
I am giddy in anticipation of turning over rich soil, feeding perennials and planting new plants when spring arrives. A week or two ago, I began clipping away dead growth in the garden. Dormant, dried plants remain for the birds during the winter months. Oh glory! Shearing away, I could see that all in The Mildscape seems to have survived the deep freeze of December, and the January-February ice. Mounds of green Catmint were forming under the brush. Salvia, Sedum and Abelia popping out small green leaves and buds of new plants. Garlic Chive and Lemon Balm were pushing up green grassy growth from the soil. Despite grumbling muscles, after a winter of inactivity (my Self tried and tried to talk my Self into walking on winter days, taking up yoga or strength training, to no avail) it was marvelous to be close to the soil and burgeoning perennials.
Numerous pairs of snips and the hori hori knife were left a mess when gardening season last ended. Performing a cleaning and sharpening seemed in order. Gathering up a bubbly cleaner, wire brush, old towels, a can of household oil, steel wool, a sharpening blade and rubber gloves, I went to town with a deep clean; scrubbing, burnishing and sharpening. Feeling accomplished and energized by this task, and while I had rubber gloves on and a mess in the sink already, I grabbed a few silver pieces lying around and gave them a good rub with silver polish. Not all the silver, to be sure. Polishing all the silver in the house could be a full day project. I have inherited silver, wedding gifts of my own from another era, and I am an estate sale junkie who struggles not to snatch up every piece of vintage silver. Silver pieces glowing on chests and tables, garden pruners lined up on a clean towel, I was ready to hit the dirt again.
On beautiful days, I give no thought to leaving other tasks behind, and find my way out the door, the cat dashing ahead of me, to putter about the garden. There, in my supreme place of bliss, hands and back go to work, my mind indexes the plants and the tasks, what needs to be done next, what needs propping, fed, snipped, moved. While the organized side of my brain files away notes of garden to do’s, my psyche, my soul float away. The Mildscape is my inspiration, the impetus for introspection, a plot of growth and peace.
Next gardening day dawning gray and chilly, I pulled on a sweatshirt and old jeans, and filled another contractor’s bag with dried cuttings, pruned the roses, moved stones, created a rock border cutting off Moneywort from spreading into the Dianthus, or at least slowing it down a bit. I felt the lifeblood, sore muscles, aching hands, muddy knees, grime under my nails (I’ve yet to purchase new gloves for 2023, last years’ gloves are all worn through at the fingertips) a sparkle in my eye, joy in my heart. I do wish I had thought to warn The B.O.B. on trash day, about hand compacting that bag of thorny rose branches into the bin. Bless his heart.
The kitty toes his way through the garden, routing his path ‘round plants and small bushes. Peering under the brick wall to see what dogs, goats or horses are wandering beyond his own domain. Plunging both hands into huge mounds of dried Catmint, I tug and scrunch and dead brush comes away in a satisfying manner, leaving small, rounded molehills of tightly spaced green leaves, reaching up en masse. Bob Kilgore, goes a bit mad as he sniffs the dried, herby remains of Catmint’s intoxicating substance. The potent remains send him into a blissful daze. The Mildscape is nearly ready for another season. Prepared for blooms and herbs, bees and hummingbirds. In March, I can begin popping a few plants into the ground. My spirit springs ahead and life is hopeful again!
Today the Caroline Jessamine is covered in yellow blooms. Tiny, bright buttery yellow trumpets announce that spring is imminent. Happy March to All of Us! April cannot be far behind.
Reprinted from Blue RibbonNews
03 03 23
I don’t like birds really.
Rephrase – I have an aversion to parakeets and other birds in cages, those that squawk and shriek, especially those pets loose and flying around indoors. Feathered creatures outdoors are the birds that I have come to enjoy.
We did some casual birdwatching in The Wildscape – the backyard of our previous home. Mostly we would watch for regulars in the yard. The Cardinal family primarily. (As well, it was great fun watching possum traversing the top of the fence across the back, and resident squirrels chasing each other round the large tree trunks in the mornings, scolding the cat as he did morning rounds.) We installed a birdbath at the top of the hilly yard, to ensure that in the heat, Mama and Papa Cardinal had water to splish in, as they were reluctant to use the pool. One spring morning, a legion of Cedar Waxwings came swooping in. In five minutes, the rioters cleaned every crimson berry from the Holly planted near our bedroom windows. That extraordinary event sparked a bit of interest in identifying the birds we were spotting in the yard, and trees beyond.
After moving to our newly built home in 2021, we installed a birdbath here in The Mildscape, (thus named, a smaller less woodsy yard than The Wildscape) hoping to attract wildlife into our brand-new garden. During an ice storm early in 2022, we noticed a number of birds, poking about the garden for bits and pieces, and I began contemplating, perhaps a feeder. A second bird bath was installed in 2022, after the first began to leak and was relegated to life as a succulent planter. We live on the outer edge of suburbia, with acreage beyond our garden wall. The trees in the field behind are filled with birds, and we enjoy their antics on the power lines in the evenings, the morning songfest. We planted trees immediately on moving in, and more the following spring. Noticing regular visits from Cardinals to the bath, I began putting a bit of bird seed into the basin held by a concrete St Francis, mid-garden. As there are many feathered friends I could not identify, a bird book and a laminated pamphlet of area birds were called for.
Still, I was hesitant to install feeders, hearing stories of attracting rats to the yard. Late spring through fall, we greatly enjoyed hummingbirds in the garden, perched in the yaupon tree and fighting at the nectar feeders. Last spring, we succumbed, I vowing to keep an eagle eye (pardon the pun) out for other varmints, and we put up a feeder. The first seemed inadequate, and so we ordered a different one, not much more satisfactory. Eventually, we purchased a wide mesh, tube feeder with a sturdier pole to hang it from. Then, we moved to a tube feeder with feeding holes and perches, and a tray, and a rain hood. Now we were talking. Hoping for Goldfinch, we added a small mesh tube to the other side of the pole hook. We drew masses of birdies. Including the Doves and Pigeons. Dorks.
I am not enchanted with the Doves. Yes, I hear protests about this frequently from those who have some sweet sense that these are lovely birds of peace and tranquility. We have quite a few regulars here, and they are fat, dumb-ish birds who tend to intimidate some of the smaller fellows, and poop on the garden bench. The nerve.
We have multiple Cardinal couples who come and go, they have been frequent visitors during this inclement weather, brilliant red against the white, snowy background a treat for our eyes. House Finch with scarlet plumage were new to us. Goldfinch finally showed up – I think it was in late December, we had waited and waited through November hoping to see them. The Goldfinch rarely use the special feeder with thistle seed installed specifically for them. They do like to swing atop that mesh feeder and ever so occasionally are spotted clinging to the side. But typically, they are vying for space at the tube feeder and eating what the rest of the gang does, mainly peanut bits, various sunflower seed and safflower seed.
We watch Juncos, Chickadees, Sparrows (who knew there were so many different Sparrows) and Bluebirds are colorful delights. The Mockingbird antics are particularly hilarious in the summer months. I have vowed to myself to simply enjoy the birds and not constantly leap up to take photos. I continue to vow to myself not to purchase a new camera for photos! This is made easier, as I have a neighborhood social media friend who takes marvelous bird photos. I often confirm my identifications via her photos! We added small binoculars as an item that cannot be lived without, so that I can see the winged friends better and identify who is hanging around the yard. The privilege of time to slow down and sit at ease, watching nature is a savored largesse. I suggest finding opportunity to be still outdoors. Put the phone down and see what appears.
One spring morning in 2022, I sat with coffee at the kitchen table, offering up a prayer. I glanced at the patio, to see what I know now is a Painted Bunting. My breath taken away by the colorful beauty, I dared not move for my phone to take a photo. I simply watched in awe as the once in a lifetime sighting continued, with the creature fluttering up to the fence top, eventually flitting away. It was not difficult to determine the identification of this exquisite bird, and I still feel an extraordinary honor in the rare sight. Just moments ago, The B.O.B. called from the living area window, not able to identify the red-headed bird on the feeder. I came for a look, and beheld a Red Bellied Woodpecker noshing sunflower seeds from the tray. A marvelous sighting indeed! The sight of a woodpecker indicates opportunity and new possibilities. The delight in such spottings!
Since we are now regular bird benefactors, our bird population has increased and we greatly enjoy the antics at the feeders, watching in the mornings as we wake, from our bedroom windows, keeping eye throughout the day from the living area windows, and from the patio as we sit outside while Bob Kilgore, does his kitty rounds. Bob Kilgore is getting older and, while he is interested in the birds and makes those satisfying chirpy sounds that kitties do when they see a bird, he will stare, but rarely chases or hunts the birds.
These past inclement weather days, in the icy Mildscape, I have ventured out to feed the birds, keeping the feeders filled; unable to keep ice from the bath, though tomorrow I ought be able to provide water for them as temps rise. As well, I have gone out a few times a day to scatter seed in the large flowerbed as well as in other spots in the yard. There has been a population boom out there today, with the ice storm. We feel a fond benevolence as we watch our feathery friends feasting in The Mildscape.
This morning, a good-sized Hawk settled on the brick wall, quickly clearing the yard of other fowl. Interestingly, last time we spotted a Hawk in The Mildscape was during last year’s ice event, when a Coopers Hawk perched on the fence. Hawks are seen here regularly flying above, but we don’t often see them shopping in the backyard for snacks. Hopefully they are keeping mice and rats at bay. I also welcome snakes to the garden, they don’t bother me and I try not to bother them, as I am a proponent of their vermin eating habits.
The Cardinals, who had been morning and evening visitors, became scarce earlier this winter, and I was concerned that the piggy Doves and bully Blue Jays (gorgeous blue but bullies nonetheless) were intimidating them. Back to the wild bird store we went to discuss and, while assured that the Cardinals would likely not be bullied, added a low, roofed feeder to the corner of the garden, near Dodie, the crape myrtle that the Cardinals seem to enjoy perching in. The Cardinals returned and I believe I was correct. Now there ought be plenty of feeding opportunity for all. Though perhaps one more small feeder, on the fence near the inner patio, might be a nice addition this spring…
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
PHOTO CREDIT: Nicolette Work
I woke early and instead of snuggling back in till daylight, I got up; the anticipated aroma of a cup of coffee and thoughts of the first sip tickling my brain. I am sitting in the quiet now, with a crimson throw at my feet, absorbing the Christmas tree glow. I did not find a new ornament for the tree this year. Clearly, no more are needed, the tree is filled! All the vintage baubles of years past please me so much, I don’t require new ones. We attended the DSO Christmas extravaganza early in the season. The music, song, raising voices with hundreds of people in the great hall brought back the Christmas feels of childhood.
Gifts were piled up on the guest room bed, for wrapping, in December. Wrapping was just a bit less grueling than in the past, with many of the gifts popping into brown bags, tissue paper fluffing from the top, and a ribbon tied ‘round the handle. Some are still under the tree, awaiting belated Christmas celebrations.
We have had our second Christmas in this home - already! It’s that dichotomy of thought; seems as if we’ve been home here for years, yet the eighteen months since we moved in have flown by in a flash. I am noticing how rapidly the flashes pass as my years climb! Occasionally the grand“babies”, aka Small Hooligans, will ask my age, only to shake their heads in amazement that anyone can be So Old.
I notice as well, as my life speeds towards sixty-five, that my own body slows me down more. This annoys and puzzles me. I feel like I ought be able to put in a full day of gardening, and still be able to walk the next day! I adjust the pace and allow more time with my feet up and a word game on the iPad. My excuse of keeping my brain alert is a farce - I simply love Scrabble, and my family will not play! I’ve never been one to run a marathon, no penchant for mountain climbing or parachuting. It’s pleasurable finding a spot and watching the ocean. Sitting on a dock with a book and a place to nap in the sun is an ideal activity. The slowing of things, while annoying at times with unexpected aches and pains, does not limit me too much.
Sooner than I can believe, the Holidaze will be over. The festive gatherings of friends will be done, holiday celebrations with family enjoyed once again, and we’ll take a breath and head into another New Year. What will be in store for our family as another year rolls in?
A more consistent routine is something I am glad for, as The Big Old Bear settles into his judgeship, and dinner at 6:30 becomes the norm, rather than the anomaly of dinners together in his days of practicing law from downtown Dallas. I’ll not speak of traffic snarls and aggravations, just to say how good it is that his commute is now, right down Highway 66 and across two bridges. Bless all you who will continue fighting the mass and mess of construction, to get to work. I intend to become more deliberate in my writing practice and regular blogging (which has been sorely neglected!)
Perhaps we’ll plan a trip or two, travel has been somewhat curtailed in these last busy years, and before that, in the times of pandemic. We have loved ones to catch up with and new places to explore. I’ll tend the garden, snipping and nurturing, with intention of reducing the number of new plants this year. Limited digging of holes will make my body a bit less creaky. The grandchildren will continue to speed by us - careers, college, high school, only one left in elementary school. Real life awaits, with much ahead for them.
We’ll enjoy time with new friends, and old. Watch the birds and keep track of the Cardinals as they delight us with their crimson feathers at our feeders. Observe the trees making their slow climb, in this still new dwelling on the eastern prairie! I love large, mature trees, but one perk of brand-new trees is lush grass and flowers that bloom like mad in the bright, unfettered sunshine.
For the immediate future, we’ll enjoy the fire in the chilly evenings, while Bob Kilgore roasts on his blanketed footstool in front of the fireplace, then melts himself down to the rug in a heat induced coma. Read our books, snooze in our chairs. Enjoy the warm glow of the tree until after Epiphany.
Bob Kilgore’s new wardrobe of bow ties arrived, along with the flood of online Christmas purchases. He’ll soon switch out his red and green polka dot tie for his more sophisticated black and white trademark tie, with other new options for spring and summer.
Whatever the New Year holds for you - I pray you will have joy, laughter, courage to face it all, comfort when needed, stamina to share the joy. Peace at home and in our world.
Keep your head up and your eyes bright!
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
We are rolling into the holidays. The garden is quiet. All has been tucked in for the long winter’s nap. Birds are still in and out of the yard at the feeders, in the holly trees, and I try to keep the birdbath filled. Small potted pines that summered over from last holiday season, (shaded under the corner crape myrtle) fill baskets on the porches.
This season, there is extra beauty all around, with our home decorated for the holidays. Ornaments and trimmings from so many years past, return to our lives for a month or so. I pull them from the brown tissue paper and, just as for many of you, it’s like opening a gift! The old baubles are best. My small collection of vintage Putz sheep is a shabby gathering of rubbed off coats, a missing hoof, chipped ear, sheepish smiles crooked with age. They flock on the shelves of the hutch, though one may venture out into a glass cloche arrangement. I purchased two, spanking new, reproduction sheep a few years ago. I much prefer the old, worn ones. Bob Kilgore displays kitty crazies as the boxes empty, and paper wrapping floods the floor. He leaps into piles of tissue, digs into boxes, stealth decorator. The B.O.B. helps me trim the tree, now that the grands are so very busy. Gifts are wrapped in brown paper with silky ribbons, with names inscribed in red and green ink.
A small, enameled bell hangs on the bottom bough, in hopes that Bob will act like a kitty and pat it with his paw, making it tinkle. When this rare event occurs after bedtime, the sound makes us smile as we lie under the comforter. Some years, as I grow older, I think perhaps I won’t decorate this year, it is such a task! It is impossible though, to give up the color, warm reflections, the light, and love of the season.
Just like you, we have our traditions, as well as our holiday madness - the madness mostly on my part. We’ll enjoy the elaborate lighting displays in our neighborhood. We’ll attend the gatherings, make at least one or two forays into the spirited mall traffic, hopefully attend a seasonal concert or two. We two, will spend many evenings in front of the fire, lights low, tree shining, a beacon of love and memories.
I’ll enjoy a happy tradition of my own. I buy gift cards in five or ten dollar amounts for local stores, coffee shops, burger joints. I hand them to folks who least expect it – the person at the drive-in window, the grocery clerk, a stranger at the gas station. The joy of making someone’s day, giving a gift, sharing the hope, in itself a gift. The season of lifting others.
On Christmas Day, I give myself the gift of reading Paul Crume’s essay, Angels Among us, in the Dallas News, as I have for many years. The column first published in 1967. I recommend it.
Not every moment is charming, some certainly not delightful. Nonetheless, the sentiment that returns each year, the love that burns warmly, the people who embrace us: these are gifts of the season that carry us past loneliness.
I wish you warmth, love, and light to shine the way.
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
On a sunny morning recently, I wound my way up the road to my grandson’s school. Something I greatly relish about living where we do, is we are just right over the next bump to the country. While suburbia encroaches, and I know some resent it terribly, I am grateful to live close to the country. A particular route, the “back way” to the grocery store, takes me up and down small hills, around curves, with everyday miracles of fields and wildflowers, a pond, and a small barn with the Texas flag painted on the side. Driving that route, fast breaths of hurry here, hurry there, give way to moments that slow a bit. I might mosey and pull to the right for that impatient guy, in the truck behind me, to pass.
I made my way up a rural highway to school for Book Fair - Grandparent’s Day. Book Fair is a favorite tradition for the small hooligans and me, i.e., scads of new books. Two other related favorite activities are: Binges at Barnes & Snowball (Noble), and Binges at Half Price Books – The Mothership, in Dallas. How many books can a child pile in his/her arms? That’s how many I am buying. For the record, Granddad, aka B.O.B., is enthusiastic in his approval of monies spent on books. Is there a better way to “spoil” a child than to open his world with reading?
It was my first visit to this elementary school, my grandson having just transferred in,
this school year. My visit began with a goof up of my own making. I went to the middle school first, going to three entrances before locating the main entry with the doorbell. Giving my name and the purpose for my presence to the office lady, I noted a line of students inside and thought to myself, “grade schoolers are getting bigger these days…” That friendly woman, and other teachers in the office were so affable, telling me I was at the wrong school (no Book Fair for middle schoolers – bummer,) graciously assuring me the correct school was right up the road at the next turn. Nobody laughed at me – at least not while I was there.
Not to hold you in suspense any longer, I arrived at the elementary school. Walking up to the school, stepping around a colorful chalked fox on the front walk, I was greeted, at a table, by a staff member; taking driver licenses, making computer entries, checking the grandparents in and giving us “Visitor” name tags. (I did chuckle to myself, one woman held up her name tag and asked: “What should I do with this?” What ELSE would you do with a name tag? You slap it on your chest and hope it stays on. Oh. I am now recalling that I’m the one who went to the wrong school. I bet she went to the correct school on her first try. Please delete any reference to name tag befuddled folks, from this column.)
We waited in a loose line in the entry, for our sweeties to come down from class. There is so much activity in a school. Lines of children headed to recess, the occasional wanderer headed to restroom or office. Children feeling comfortable in their safe place, a cocoon of childhood and learning and friends, and show & tell, lunch, recess. Everywhere, teachers and aides; each one of them with a smile on their face and something happy to say. And each, it seemed, knowing just who every child was. I watched kids in the hallways, delighted to see their grandparents. Mine was the pokiest – but to be fair, he had been at recess. He came down the hall with a little sheepish grin on his face. I gathered up his big ol’ hug. This guy, whose long legs go all the way up to his neck, all of a sudden, hair a bit wonky on top, wearing a long sleeved, hooded tee that we had picked out at Target before the start of school. It’s still a smidgie bit big, and no doubt, before winter is over his wrists will be sticking all the way out of it.
We had a happy browse through the books, though they were not as abundant as in years past. It was last day of the Book Fair and items were fairly sold out. We purchased the items he found and made a promise to have a B&N binge soonest. I sent him off down the hall, back to his room, not wanting to go with him and be an unknown adult wandering the hallways. A pleasant break from my ordinary day, having a peek into my grandson’s daytime world.
A classroom change occurred in the hallway just as I was heading out. Children lined up to the right, others lined up to the left, and an open lavatory washroom leading into the bathroom, flooded with kiddos washing hands at troughs and bouncing back out into line. Kids coming and going, some bunching up a bit, not breaking line (perhaps just a little.) I did a dance, in and out, trying to stay in a clear lane to avoid being plowed down by wall to wall children.
Anticipating a bit of a drive home, I popped into the faculty restroom, though I did have a second thought about it; being aware that a stranger coming out of the faculty restroom could be somewhat alarming these days. Would that thought have crossed my mind several years ago? Checking out, I handed in my Visitor tag. Doing so, I had an awareness that, while there was nothing outrageous about the check in system, it is a screening process - carefully adhered to. School doors are locked, visitors are buzzed in, teachers and aides are at every corner, eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. There is so much more to be aware of than simply counting heads, these days.
Returning to my car, I stopped in the sunshine to gaze at the fox, the local mascot, drawn in chalk, on the sidewalk. I smiled at a flower bed, lined and filled with colorful stones, painted by the children. I thought about the grade schoolers, lined up in the hallways. And I thought about checking in at a computer station, wearing a name tag, teachers monitoring the confusion in the hallways. Teachers and aides keeping a safe place, that cocoon that keeps our children happy and teaches them to thrive in the world.
Sitting in the car in the parking lot, then pulling slowly across the drive and out onto the road, I contemplated. All those children, all those long legs, all the short ones, all the boys and girls, all the colors and sizes; all safe, that day. And of all the babies that were lost in Uvalde last spring. I get teary thinking of all those little lost lives, and the adult lives taken, and the teachers, and the ones whose wounds are still healing, so many who will never again feel completely safe. Their happy, secure cocoon was blasted wide open. There are not adequate words to express our grief at the agony experienced by the the parents of Uvalde, the fear and horror, all of it.
I had reveled in a happy event, standing in the sunny morning, looking at painted stones, sidewalk chalk. Feeling an affection for interior walls decorated with uplifting statements and posters, children oblivious to anything other than being guided to their next activity. I cannot balance the unfairness of those lives lost and the gratitude for the safety of my own grandchildren.
I thank God for all the teachers, the staff, the janitors, lunch ladies, helpers. These folks who know our children by name, in a school with hundreds of little kiddos. They know whose class my grandson is in – even when I don’t. Their eyes are constantly open for the little ones. What an incredible burden on their shoulders, to keep the children safe. Yet they perform cheerfully, with kindness and care. I pray their efforts are effective.
Thank you for fall weather, rural roads, small towns, long sleeves, books to broaden young minds, children who are happy in these days of their life, teachers, parents, grandparents and all the others who take care.
Bless those whose innocence has been destroyed. I pray they can be whole again.
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
We are in the glory days. The days of autumn, so eagerly awaited. Everything perks up around us. The mornings dawn cool and crisp. The sun creeps up at a new angle, the garden is shaded longer before the golden orb travels across and warms the blooms. Afternoons are toasty, yet not too hot. The air feels clear. I’ll grab a throw or a cardigan to have morning coffee outside these days.
I enjoy the late afternoon light as it softens, a little earlier these days. The lamp on the entry table is switched on earlier to brighten the front hall, than during the long days of summer. Bob Kilgore and I return indoors a bit sooner these cool mornings, though you’d think his fur coat would keep him warm. I think old age makes him less tolerant of a bit of a chill. He is happier napping indoors in the early morning and, dozing in the sun later in the day. The weather is lovely enough to take lunch outside, and Bob does not protest. Dinner preparation is delayed here. Five o’clock now is for patio sitting or yard puttering, and time for a kitty’s late afternoon snooze on an outdoor cushion. Oh the joy when pals show up with a pitcher of margaritas or other libation and we linger away the late afternoon. Soon enough, the days will be chill and outdoor time at a minimum. There will be plenty of time to cook supper during the winter!
Birds arrive at the feeder later in the morning and less frequently just now. They are following instinct and are foraging in fields and roadsides for seeds and acorns. Still, we keep our feeders filled for the occasional snacker. Our feathery visitors will return with voracious appetites and I’ll soon enough be putting bird seed on the shopping list with frequency.
The garden – The Mildscape, is wrapping up her second year, the growth has been quite astonishing. I attribute the success to beaucoup soil preparation. Much clay has been hauled out, compost mixed in, bags and bags of new landscape soil added, turned and mulched; until a bed of soft, loose planting richness was formed. Repeat, repeat, repeat. But garden work is at a minimum just now, and the milder weather makes the work outdoors less of a beating.
Curving borders of stacked stone outline the garden. Eyes wander over the fullness of plants, the riot of color and texture, a relaxed feel imbued by the curves, rounded plantings, pools of fluffy, soft green that flow away from the border. Poofs of color atop stems of leafy green, careful – the thorns will grab you when you least expect. Spiky green mounds tipped in purple and hot pink, blooms reaching to the sun. Stems and stalks are topped in assorted hues. Some share their glory all season. Some come to shine for a brief period, then tucking in until the next season, leaving me yearning for more. And then, another bloomer leaps into the spotlight, all in turn.
Some of the perennials are dwindling down, now that October is here, ready to melt down into the soil until springtime. Others are putting forth a delightful bloom resurgence – delirious with vigor in the marvelous temps. They will be ready to cut back in another month or so and I will put the garden to bed, tucking the plants in with more, new cedar mulch, for a winter rest. Evergreen shrubs planted in this fall season are already establishing roots and preparing to take front billing for the winter.
I take in the garden view each morning, from the bedroom window. First thing when I rise – I soak in minute or three at the window, gazing at the plants, the colors, the birds, the plastic three-gallon shrub container holding dried cuttings and weeds that I keep forgetting to walk around to the trash! This is the loveliest view of the day. If only we could have morning light all day long, but that would render me in a daze of for the twenty-four hours! The garden in morning light is peace. The light is soft and the colors dance.
Moving from the window, I patter to the kitchen with a kitty leading the way. I provide him his morning treats, fill his bowl, make the coffee, grab my pencil and composition book. Bob waits, impatient, at the door. Two clicks of the locks and we are out. I enjoy the view, with coffee, from my cushioned chair. The mornings out in the garden anchor me. They open me. Fill me with contentment and delight.
Throughout the day, I’ll take a peek from the living room window. And nearly every afternoon-evening, I’ll putter about in the garden or simply sit, and enjoy the dwindling daylight. The garden is integral for my life. I take in the loveliness and store it in the planting trays in my brain. The thoughts and the to-do’s of the garden keep my mind always turning, considering, planning.
When winter arrives, there will not be much glory out here. Things will be neatly cut back and those few evergreens will hold the fort. What will I do then? I suppose I will tackle those projects I’ve set aside, all season long. I’ll finally spend some time at my desk, in the writing room. And I will stand at the window, planning the changes and new additions to next year’s garden.
There is glory in the garden. The garden creates beauty in my soul. I gather it all in, in this plot that is mine. I am filled with simple, pure grace, and peace. For this I am so grateful.
This wonderful autumn time in the garden. In Texas we don’t have the apple picking, hot cider in front of bonfires (well – we might, but we sweat.) We get these bright sunny days and cool nights. I’ll take the cat out into the garden as much as possible to enjoy the glory. Despite the ragweed…achoo, cough cough.
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
Odes to September are plentiful, the season our souls awaken, our hearts begin to warm. In September the mildness of the morning begins to linger longer, and I tend to linger longer over my coffee. Evenings, while not yet cool, allow more grace to be out in the garden, than during the previous months’ blasts. Shadows of the day grow longer.
September is a month of hopeful anticipation. We know the heat will end, eventually. In September, we are getting closer to being on the brink of autumn weather. We hope this year, for more rain. Red, orange and yellow autumn leaves are always longed for, a phenomenon we don’t enjoy each year here. We seem to begin to gather in, instinctively perhaps from early generations, who stored and shored up in earnest for winter, during September.
Flower gardens have matured and hold a banquet for our eyes, in the fall of our days. Major garden chores are over for the time being. Milder weather brings a new flush of blooming to savor. Summer’s freedom for the children, days and nights of ease, have come to a halt. Studies must be tackled once again.
The hummingbirds in my garden are more plentiful in number in this season. We’ll have hordes of them this month. They linger longer and, while the fight for dominance continues with fierce dive bombing of the others, we now see them numbering two, or even three or more on the nectar filled saucers scattered about the garden. Perhaps they are realizing the days of summer are waning, so they share and cooperate, allow sustenance to all for the migration. After spring and summer, they are accustomed to the giants who live here and hover closer and closer, becoming familiar and bold. I’m making a goal, to have one perch on my finger, now or next year.
Time to put away the jars of seashells and the beach towels, and gather in to home; bringing in gourds and pumpkins. Light cotton throws are laundered and folded away for next spring, warm colored, soft, comfy throws are tossed over the sofa. Fall wreaths are hung on doors, welcoming friends and family to gather in. If we concentrate and sit in the quiet, we can nearly see a fire burning golden in the fireplace. Put down the logs – not yet!
If summer is freedom, peaches and blueberries, fall is gathering, bringing in, pulling together. Caramel apples. Hot lattes outdoors on mild days. Football season begins and parents, families, friends gather in stadiums to cheer on their school’s team. Gathering together.
I would prefer not to mention two words that have seemingly become synonymous with the season of fall. Words describing flavors and scents that some find ever so enticing, now interchangeable with the season. But I must, I guess, make note of pumpkin spice. Candles, bath salts, popcorn, cookies, ice cream, coffee creamers, lattes, donuts, argh. The words that now seem to characterize everything fall. I cannot bear the pumpkin spice madness. I know…throw me down and stone me. Just don’t make me sniff or see pumpkin spice again. Ever. I am quite fond of pumpkin pie, with a nice glob of whipped cream on top. Pumpkin cake is a moist, spicy treat. The old pumpkin standards are dandy for me. Y’all go on and pumpkin spice it up. I’ll not begrudge slews of you to live it up when pumpkins spice lattes and coffee creamers hit the aisles of the grocery and coffee shop. I bequeath my allotment to my daughters-in-law. I’ll just think of apple harvests, cider, hot coffee from a thermos and a ride in the country.
Here, in Texas, September is not quite the big change in the seasons. More of a preamble to the change. The promise of change to come. We take the promise to heart and awaken each day hoping for autumn breezes, cappuccinos, and a cold front to bring crisp days in for the fair. Don’t put your sweaters on yet, we still have some very warm days to endure. Just lay one out over the bedroom chair, and gaze at it. Soon. Soon.
This afternoon, while filling my grocery cart with almond milk, orange and cranberry juices, I spotted an orange-colored bottle in the dairy section. Pumpkin Spice Whole Milk.
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
I was under the weather this past week, on the mend now and enjoying coffee outside in the mild early morning, with Bob Kilgore, our big black & white kitty. This malaise leaves me wanting only to be still and enjoy the peace of the garden. Blessedly, I feel no urge to leap up to pull a weed or right a drooping frond. This placidity will not last, the work drive will return with recuperation. I will enjoy these moments now.
Swooping over the wall is an enchanting blue and black butterfly, a Swallowtail of some type. She flutters and hovers round the Bougainvillea; currently enjoying its glory day as a stunner. In the dry heat, the thorny ornamental vine flashes its finery. I ought to have grabbed my bird binoculars on my way out of the house! The urge to leap for my phone camera is instantaneous.
Instead, I remain still, coffee in hand. Choosing to sit, in the peace, and simply enjoy the movement, the delight of this creature. She is a winged enchantress, of bold, rich color and graceful maneuverings. I absorb her into my spirit, rather than imprinting her image on a screen, this time.
Black with a rich blue, she traces the breadth and outline of the spreading Bougainvillea as she flutters. She seems intent on not missing a single, fuchsia bract. As the breeze swirls, she moves spot to spot within the spiny, beautiful plant; then up and around - around the silhouette of the spreading branches until a suitable landing spot is decided upon. She has peace, I think. Her sole purpose to pull sustenance from the blooms here in the garden, spread the pollen. My heart stops as she moves away, but she drifts to the Rock Rose then up around the fluffy white Crape Myrtle, before returning again to the Bougainvillea.
Ah, she glides over the wall, into the countryside behind, our time together over for now. I became so involved with her and suddenly, just like that, she has gone. That’s it then. The west corner of the garden, so alive in her a moment ago, now seeming so still, without animate flitting about. No fear. When I look again, the blooms and bees and birds continue to delight.
My husband, looking out over the entire garden the other day, commented, calling our retreat “The Aviary.” Indeed, we do gather numbers of birds and of course, the bumblebees are greedy on all the blossoms.
Butterflies, birds, bees, blooms. All beauties that bring joy, pleasure to my spirit.
Does the butterfly need purpose other than her beauty? Yes, the pollen. As if her beauty isn’t enough? Allure and purpose, magnificent design. She glides in briefly, with grace and charm, delighting those who witness the magic, should she land on our hand, our life, for only a moment. A brief instant, exquisite, generous delicacy lands with us, fills our eyes with a spark of magic, a memory.
We don’t soon forget a butterfly lighting on us for a few moments. I recall a charmer surrounding my granddaughter one summer day. The butterfly seemed enchanted by our blonde pixy, who gently accepted the attention as the feather light, winged nymph landed in her hair, on her hand, her check, then accepting the offer of a bit of jam from her fingertip. I am certain the butterfly was madly in love. The picture in my memory so very dear.
A butterfly joined me on mild, sunny day last autumn. Reclining back into my sun faded Adirondack chair on the grass, glass of iced tea perched on the broad, wooden arm, and book in my hand, I could not concentrate on the words. The serenity of the fall garden, blue sky and cool air luring me away to another existence. I did not need a story at that moment. The moments of calm and peace were plenty to absorb. Until the butterfly came along – to captivate my thought. A friendly sort, perhaps lagging in her migration, she hovered about keeping me in good company, lingering in the garden. I relaxed, in her flitty presence and she landed on my bare toe. (Shoes do not go onto my feet until the season becomes too chill. Till then it is bare tootsies or Birkenstocks.) From my toe, she moved up to my knee. Flitting up again, she landed on the rim of my tea glass, then onto my outstretched hand. She stayed with me a good while, marching up and down my arm, perching on my finger, my knee. We had a brief affair. Then suddenly she was gone. Off to drift in the heady Abelia blooms, Autumn Sage and vibrant Rock Rose, before gliding out of my life, over the wall and across to the trees beyond.
This morning I sat in the summer air, thankful for the breeze. Quietly viewing the shenanigans of the Hummingbirds, Finch, Cardinals, Chickadees that populate this “aviary”. Mockingbirds squabble on the fence, tiny Barn Swallows (I think) in the new myrtle bushes. I am filled by the fleeting presence of this most elegant butterfly. Carrying her grace to me as she comes to the bounty provided by Mother Nature. She completes this retreat of serenity just with her presence here. Simply being her beautiful self.
I am glad I did not dash in for the camera. I have so enjoyed soaking in the time with her. She remains a jewel in the portion of my brain that amidst the dark and sadness in the world – shines brightly. Cheering me on through whatever struggles, causing me smiles for no reason other than contentment. Beauty, peace, joy exist.
The breeze is calming and the sun beginning to beat down. I wish you a spot of beauty –
better yet – a Glorious Burst of exquisite beauty and joy. A sweet moment of peace in your day.
Reprinted from The Blue Ribbon News
I wandered into the garden this morning to sit with my blank pages, not knowing what I might write. It took moments for the words to come. Please bear with me through another garden column. I try not to write about the garden incessantly, but this time of year (ok, any time of year) words of plants and blooms simply come to me. My mind fills with the garden and stays close to bursting in spring and summer. I tend to blurt out partial sentences to The B.O.B. (Big Old Bear – long suffering husband) such as – “I think I’ll move that Black and Blue Salvia up closer to the front of the garden as it is not doing well in this spot, and then I can put in another Drift Rose, maybe a few Speedwell.” He tends to say “Okaaaay” – steadfastly tolerant, unquestioning, oblivious to which plant and which spot I am bringing to his attention; likely wondering how much I will spend at the nursery next. Sometimes The B.O.B. might attempt at identifying a sweet coral rose as “that red flower”, or a Silver Mist Artemisia as “the round, fluffy looking thing.” He knows four basic colors - red, white, black, blue and sometimes green, and he knows no variations of those basic colors. Mauve, Coral, Pink and Magenta are all Red to the Bear. The Bear is fearful, I am certain, that I will come to bed some night with garden snippers in hand, primed to deadhead anything in sight. This is a silly trepidation, really. My snips are always returned to their spot on the patio.
Days begin in the peace of my garden. Late spring, summer and fall mornings find me outside, with coffee and a kitty. Winter’s chilly mornings, not so much. Mornings (and evenings when I force myself to put down the garden tools) are when I soak in the pleasant result of my self-imposed toil in the garden. The toil which hurts my muscles, causes aches that keep me awake at night, bring stiffness everywhere. Still, I work the garden with a passion. Or is it madness? The end result is loveliness. Always changing - because I am always moving, adding, transplanting, amending, feeding, and some stuff just dies. While I admire a garden that is sculpted and structured, there is not enough life for me there. Life is color, movement, textures. Loose un-sculpted shapes formed by Mother Nature. This is the garden that bursts forth from my labors, overflowing its borders. For others, it is the sculpted, formal design, for many it is rows and rows of beans, tomatoes and zucchini.
Garden labors are not worked sweetly, in clean garden clothes, rolled up sleeves of a crisp chambray shirt, brimmed hat, basket and pristine gloves. My gloves are floral printed and sweet – fresh from the package. Typically, in a matter of moments, they are stained green, brown and soiled, and soon the fingertips wear through. Gloves are hosed off daily and laid on the outside kitchen windowsill, to dry in the sun on the brick ledge. Several pair may be found there at any given time. My arms are marked by sun and the snags of rose thorns or branches. Hands with rough dirty nails, fingers turning lumpy with arthritis. I recently suffered the dividend for gardeners – a rose thorn infection in my finger, it was not pretty. My knees! Insert laughter here. Red and rough, often tender from kneeling in the mulch or on the border stones, while wearing shorts and without using my knee pad. When I come in from the garden there will be garden soil in all crevices. Sweat stings my eyes. If I have worn a hat, it is not pulled off gracefully, freeing swinging, shiny, hair. Rather, a soaked mess, well plastered to my head in places, sticking out in others, emerges from my hat. My clothing wet from sweat and the hose.
More often than not, I require the bags of compost or pea gravel NOW, not when it is convenient to arrange for someone to haul them in for me. I get a big workout, with my trusty garden wagon loaded up. Thus goes the morning, afternoon, evening of a gardener. Night is for putting feet up with a relieved sigh. Tottering off to lay my tired bones in the bed, with a toddy of warm tap water and Aleve.
I am often told “you should be a professional garden planner!” “You could make a living at this!” This might or might not be true. I might have studied, and drawn garden plans as a means to earn my keep. As it is, I am just a backyard gardener, though I love to share the joy. I am pleased to provide tips and plant suggestions with friends and acquaintances. I have been known to draw out garden plans for a few friends. I enjoy sharing in their enthusiasm, seeing others’ gardens flourish, hearing their progress.
My plan was to sleep in today. But poor Bob (Bob the Cat – not to be mistaken for The B.O.B. This is a confusing fact of the Kilgore life. I must frequently remind folks what my long suffering husband’s name actually is, because I so frequently call him The B.O.B., and then throw in a cat named Bob Kilgore for interest.) Bob the Cat did not get outside yesterday, so when I awoke at 6:30, I listened to my caring side and got up for early coffee and a few notes outdoors, while my feline companion wandered the garden.
The coffee is sipped. On a quiet summer morning, the hum of night is replaced with birdsong and a barking dog far away. A lazy song of the cicadas wafts back and forth, long and slow, an old, oscillating sprinkler of sound from one side of the landscape to the other. The relaxing hum a part of summer, just as the heat.
I’ll forgo grasshopper murder this morning as I am feeling lazy. Grasshoppers are the bane of my existence. With maniacal glee, they chomp and chew through vines and leaves, bringing my plants to their knees. Rose of Sharon is now tattered and scrawny looking, though she continues to valiantly put out pink blooms. Bless her heart. Several large, chewing beasts have been located within her limbs and brought to their doom. One of my two treasured Clematis has been gnawed to a stub. Her tender, winding vine and delicate green leaves obliterated by a green or brown crunching creep. They hover in the plants, leaping away from me and laughing, I am certain. There are moments when I become a cursing murderer. The filthy language distracts me from considering that my bare hand is crushing the guts of an insect. Shudder. The best way to obliterate grasshoppers is by hand. I go slowly forth and grab with a mighty fist, all squeamish thoughts generating to murderous rage. I squeeze harder, crush and drop the body. If they show any sign of life – I stomp them. They are wily creatures and will fake death only to laugh and leap yards from me.
I welcome the other insects in the garden. They all have a place. Spiders make webs in corners to capture flies. Praying mantis are growing ever so slowly after hatching on my back porch. I wish they would get large and eat the grasshoppers! Praying mantis do not seem to grow with the speed in which baby grasshoppers turn into destructive fiends. A snake or two might come round, occasionally. They slither on through and we try not to bother each other. They are welcome to down a rat or two if they come across any. Toads are a delight, though if I accidentally step on one barefoot, I will shriek just a little. Anoles - I miss the anoles! They have not yet discovered The Mildscape and I am eager for the day they arrive. Cardinals are treated with highest regard here. Their brilliant red a delight, their shy manners cause them to dash away at the slightest movement. While they are at St Francis’ bowl, cracking into seeds, or dipping into the bird bath, I try to be s t i l l. Not even a movement to try to catch them in a phone photo. The Finch’ come in threes or fours or more, creating a merry ruckus upon arrival, positioning to be first on the feeder. Of course, the bossy hummingbirds delight as they hover and squeak, finally perching on the round red topped vessel of nectar – to tip their beaks in and out sipping or perhaps slurping.
From this old green bench in the back corner, I can view the entire garden. Empress on her shabby green throne. Rather – the slave taking an illicit seat while she ought be pulling sprigs of invading Bermuda, or clipping blooms that are finished. Spread before me, brilliant purple Gomphrena and blooming Abelia are going strong, and the soft pink Summer Phlox is putting up a valiant fight with triple digit heat. My eyes pause on the gorgeously full, brilliant coral Drift Roses, and a darling, orange-coral-peach rose named Easy Does It. I catch the eye of a black and white kitty, Bob, watching me as he enjoys his morning respite in the garden.
The bees bumble about, literally – big round bumble bees, humorous as they wobble and buzz, pulling from the varied blooms the stuff they desire.
My garden though not huge, is fairly expansive, and filled to the brim. It takes approximately half of my backyard, with a sliver of grass between stone garden border and house. Trees dot the three sides, bushes and roses bloom throughout. Many of the flowers are natives, drought resistant, and butterfly – hummingbird draws. As I look across, it is not a stagnant view, but full of movement and one buzzes by my hand! The cicada buzz abruptly stops, leaving a sudden silence. Now I can hear the birdsong again!
I worked this place from a fully sodded yard, breaking ground just a year ago. I had sod removed and stone borders installed. Then I amended the soil and planted, nurtured, waited the winter long wondering what would survive. A joyous greeting was given to the green sprouts pushing through the mulch in spring sunshine.
For gardeners, the garden is life sustained, lived each day of the year long. We make the time for our garden, big or small. Gardeners possess the willingness, the passion, and the need to nurture.
It has been said, and I wish I knew who said it first, that the gardener does not nurture the garden with her attentions. Rather it is the garden who nurtures the gardener. I know this to be true. In the garden there is always purpose. Always struggle. Always reward.
You need not have a large, labor inducing patch, such as the madness in my yard. Only a spot of green, a tree perhaps, a small patch to dig in or a pot of flowers, maybe some grass. Set your chair there. Feel the sun rising higher in the morning. Feel the bit of breeze move across your shoulder and through your hair. Listen to the birds, and the cicadas. Feel your body relax, heartrate slow, breath ease as you enjoy the Earth gladly provided by Mother Nature, God and all the powers that be.
Wishing you a spot of peace this day.
Reprinted from The Blue Ribbon News
Following a weekend of deaths, in the United States and in the World.
You are the Light of the world. There is grief and horror, ugliness beyond imagination, and men taking lives as their quest. I fear humanity is lost, dear God. We are all at fault.
Lead us to your light; to cherish the lives of children, women and men of all races, all faiths, all beliefs.
You created all of us, show us how to live together.
The murdering cuts deeper and deeper.
We are so scarred, we become numb to the horror.
Still, small miracles and joys shine through. The shouts and laughter of children, outdoors on a spring evening. A mass of praying mantis hatching on the porch. Colorful blooms in the gardens. The hearts that transcend selfishness. We all give to our children, we are as one. A soft kitty that purrs around my ankles, with a small nip to speed me along.
Winds that whipped ferociously Sunday night. Rains that poured. Sun that rises pink in the east, reflecting its light on the drops remaining on the green grass, and the leaves sparkle as gems in the trees. A fresh morning for us.
Another day of grief for so many.
We mourn for those feeling the pain of death, mortified at the terror of the final moments of their loved ones.
My prayer for them is for peace, hope, warmth. My prayer is for us to resolve that we will not allow terrorists and hatred to take away the love and kindness that is in human hearts.
We remember there is value in every human life. No one should feel the anguish of these past days. All ought be allowed the freedom of unworried strolls in their neighborhoods, peaceful shopping in their stores, food on their tables.
Blood only from skinned knees, not from wounds inflicted by hatred.
Walk with us God.
Shine your light through this darkness. Show us the way of love and light.
I will be a light.
Reprinted from The Blue Ribbon News
3:00 afternoon quiet suddenly shatters in cacophony; the salvo of the storm door being yanked open, and we are bombarded by ten and six year olds; delirious with giggles and pokes and summer fun and armfuls of backpacks, Harry Potter blankets and the flap flap of flip flops announcing that the peace is broken. It will be fun and games, and cheesy British accents for the next twenty-four hours.
Cringing in terror, the house braces herself as five thousand, or perhaps only two pair of feet stomp up the stairs to dump backpacks. I shake my fuzzy nap brain, and my face breaks into auto-smile, for who can hold back a grin at the first sound of grandchild voices? The nonsense carries on and I wander from the sunshine and soft whiteness of my bedroom, a wee bit rueful at the shortening of my summer afternoon snooze.
Running feet above signal a change is ensuing .Doors slam, and still faceless voices call out “Gram!! Have you seen my swimming suit?” In minutes the pounding feet make their way back down, scrambling for beach towels that they know will have been washed, dried and are rolled on the closet shelf. Blue with red crabs for one and cabana stripes of red and white for the other. A quick hug for a Gram as the small hooligans advance through the kitchen, heading for cool, blue waters. Operations halt, fresh summer peaches are spotted out on the blue and white platter! Without a care, knowing they are meant to consume the juiciness, fingers grab, and rinse the fuzzy fruit, wasting only seconds before the juice is dripping down her chin. Another peach is juggled and rinsed for her small male minion.
Out the black door they speed, with a squeeeek and a bang to close, calling “Bob’s out” as the cat follows close behind. Voices fade and towels drop on waiting chairs, bare feet race up the stones to the water. By tomorrow night I’ll be a limp rag lying prone on the sofa. I’ll have prepared twenty tacos, washed and trimmed countless strawberries and refilled lemonade cups until I am blue in the face. I’ll have repeated the perpetual refrains “where is your wet swimsuit?” and “come put your popsicle wrappers in the trash” until I can no longer hold a coherent conversation. Several knockdown drag outs will have been refereed, hurt feelings soothed and I’ll doubtless lead at least one Come To Jesus meeting. I’ll spend time locating missing shoes and lost shorts, and finding spare sets of pajamas, because packing oodles of lotions and potions, air buds, diaries, a floppy Puppy and a Tiger with nappy, odiferous fur; take priority over remembering to include pj’s in the backpacks. I’ll have given hugs and stolen kisses to foreheads as growing grandbabies wince; the price of hanging at Grammy’s house. The Labrynth board will make its way out and a six year old with a grin, will triumph at beating his Gram at the brain game. I’ll protest aloud, while internally jumping for joy that he will match or perhaps overcome his sister’s prodigious smarts.
They’ll be tucked in to comfy beds and snicker to themselves, somehow thinking that I am unaware of the books and flashlights hidden under the covers. I wonder if they speculate in the mornings about how the flashlights get switched off in the night and the books piled on the nightstand? These things just take care of themselves at Gram’s.
We’ll resume festivities in the morning.
This is summer daze.
Reprinted from The Blue Ribbon News
Last night it rained on Fay’s garden. The rain came in torrents, with thunder rumbles and startling cacophony of crashes. Lightening flashed in the sky so close and bright, we wondered where it had exploded.
Fay’s garden stood protected this time around, the Black Eyed Susan soon to bud. Lambs Ear soaking in the abundant waters. Extraordinary Viburnum snowball bush huge and glorious, with multitudes of beauteous green and white puffs of blooms, standing tall and generous.
Fay was like that viburnum bush - she collected more ideas than a jar of red, blue and yellow marbles, and like those marbles she was multicolored and bright. Is there a color Fay did not like? I can’t imagine.
Fay shared her ideas out and up - as the branches of her spreading Viburnum. An Outrageous Older Woman, in her own words, she shared her life, her warmth, her love of people and her wonderfully wacky sense of humor generously. She touched innumerable lives in her lifetime, in her nursing career, photography and in sharing her garden.
Just as the storms that thundered through last night, Fay was a force of nature. Though not a destructive force; but a warm, loving, over the top, brimming with life, laughing force that has brightened the world for so many of us.
One of Fay’s bright joys was her garden. A garden overrun with abundance of glorious, vivid perennials, accented in verdant green and sunshine. Potted annuals, brilliant blooming vines tumble over an arch, a plant climbing each side, vying for first place at the top. Stepping stones surround the planting bed, with green borders in between. Fay’s garden is charming, full of life, and a spot to let your eyes rest on the beauty and your mind wander.
Bunnies come to Fay’s garden. A respite from their suburban fate of lawns, shrubs, and hounds pursuing, they pop in to lie in the deep shade beneath the Sunshine Ligustrum. Standing on their haunches, they peep into tubs overflowing with Periwinkle, no doubt enjoying a bit of a nosh here and there, from the bounty. Bright green anoles live in Fay’s garden. Sunbathing atop the cement angel who presides over a birdbath filled with succulents and birdseed, green tail draped over the cherub’s head. Birds drop in to enjoy verdant peace and fill up on seeds from a huge plaster coffee cup.
Fay’s serendipitous sense of humor mingles riotously amidst the beauty of her garden. A ridiculously obnoxious rubber rat pops up in the funniest places. A huge rubber ant wanders between the plants. Sharing endless cups of coffee, two long legged frogs spend their days side by side on a garden bench, pleased with their lot in life - in Fay’s garden.
We know this - because Fay was a photographer and shared the charm, the quaint visitors, and humor in her garden through brilliant photographs. We have been greedy recipients of the vignettes documenting the sweet life in Fay’s garden, accented with Fay’s whimsical, written narration.
In the past couple of years, Fay began experiencing health issues, and to her distress, her garden lay untended. Without her loving hand the garden overgrew, potted plants dried. Winter’s camouflage was not cut back and pulled away to allow new growth to come forth.
To our dismay and great sadness, Fay’s health failed her. I visited with my friend late this winter. She delighted in introducing me to the life sized, talking zombie butler who presides over the round, dining nook table. Fay was not in any way ready to be done with her zesty life quest. Over a mad mix of delicious cold juices, cheese, berries and cookies, she shared her chagrin that the garden was not what it had once been. I thought then, that I would find some springtime hours to work in Fay’s garden, so that she could enjoy it again.
In these things of life and death we are not given much choice as to timing, and Fay’s choice was pulled from her. Fay was hospitalized and recently went home on hospice care.
This past week, from personal friends, and soon-to-be friends that I’d not yet met from an online garden group, I gathered a small army of eight women. Armed with spades, rakes, clippers and gloves, we tackled the jungle that had overtaken Fay’s garden. We cleared, clipped, trimmed and filled a multitude of bags with plant refuse. Flats of bright annuals were planted for instant color, succulents replaced to revive the birdbath’s alter ego, and a few new perennials added to carry on. One of Fay’s anoles made a surprise landing atop my head and was carefully lifted off and set down to scurry back to green life.
Though the garden will not again know Fay’s whimsical touch, we restored it as best we could, hoping she would enjoy seeing her magical place again before leaving this world.
Fay spent her last days in the hospital bed that had been placed next to the window in her living room. The window looks out on her beloved garden. Unresponsive in the past week, she quietly slept, a devoted pup curled at her feet.
Our hope was that she be allowed at least one more clear moment; that one of her sparks would light up and her eyes could rest on the color and life in her garden, one more time. My fervent hope now is that she knew joy in the knowledge that we were coming to work her garden and revive it to bloom again this spring. Fay moved on this morning, April 5, 2022.
To Fay’s family - thank you for sharing this magnificent force of nature; your wife, mother and grandmother with the rest of us. We are forever enriched, brightened and chuckling. Fay’s bright light carries on, illuminating our paths with joy.
Sally Kilgore 04.05.22
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
Lately, I find myself skipping over the daily memories that pop up on my social media page.
Somehow, I find myself with a small tear plopping down, or a sense of wistfulness that I am not willing to feel. So many of those memories are of the days when the grandbabies were tiny and growing. The days when those babies belonged to their parents and to us. We made their worlds a happy place. The time we spent with them brought their smiles.
The babies are fast growing into kids and soon, a teenager will erupt from one huge hearted, long haired, blonde girl. They are pretty terrific children, bright, eager, brains always working. Activities such as football, Beta Club, theatre, youth group and bazillions of birthday parties fill their weeks and weekends. It is a delight to see them thrive and bloom into good people.
The memories of them shrieking and running into my arms when picking them up from day school, or bursting through the front door with laughter and eagerness are behind us. There are still big smiles from the boy child, a bit shyer these days and the near teenager must be coaxed, just a bit, for hugs.
Once in the door, they feel their comfort zone again and head into “their room”; a boy with a saucy grin who still loves hugs, pulling out toys, looking for the blue Ipad. A pretty pre-teen plopping into a recliner with a good book, soon to request bread and jam or cheese, often with sliced apple on the side. They still prefer Gram slice their cheese, just as I always have.
The babies still ask me to turn on the music when we pile into Flexie. Sometimes the singing along takes just a bit longer these days. Quickly they warm up to familiar tunes and the voices rise, making me smile. Somedays a pre-teen will request silence from her brother, as the bit of older sister aggravation creeps into the closeness of their sister-brother bond.
Today they have full lives and are pulling just a bit away from the enchantment with Granddad and Grammy’s house. Still, it always remains a familiar, warm spot for them to hang, have a snack, read a book. They have their own thoughts, their own paths to follow, their own journeys to take. I cherish the conversations with them now, when they give me a peek into their worlds.
I hope that once they are grown, the journeys bring them back down the path to Gram’s house frequently. I will always treasure every moment of their presence, and every word.
I’ll stop avoiding those memories on Facebook that I once posted so frequently, and be filled, knowing we had so much time together in their very young years.
Reprinted from Blue Ribbon News
Early March and I know better than to begin planting flowers. There will be another freeze yet. Still, sunshine and 77 degrees and my gardener’s brain spins and whirls with visions of which new beauties will go into the garden this year. Yesterday, I could not resist a stroll through my favorite garden center, nor could I resist picking up just a few fresh things for the yard and patio. The fog of winter lifts as soon as a gardener can turn the soil, mix in compost and pat in the plants, while the cat bakes in the mulch, squashing the poor olive bush with his lounging sprawl.
Bright yellow Coreopsis will thrive in the Southern exposure of the front yard, and another light freeze should not harm them, more than that and I will use the freeze cloth to protect their cheery faces. Early Spring Phlox with its fluffy looking, pokie- petaled blooms and spreading habit will continue to bloom now until the Texas weather turns hot, (think mid April) then retreat, to pop it’s pretty pinkness back up next February.
A few small Asparagus Fern to edge the horse trough planter that hangs outside of the writing room window, they will hold the fort until I can squeeze in some Coleus for Summer through Fall. A few Weeping Fig, which I can rarely bring through the heat of summer, yet can rarely resist, and some demure little round purple blooms with spreading foliage (I cannot recall the name, they too will only bloom for the Spring. So – do I really need to recall the name?) These in hanging baskets outside the kitchen window.
Finally, potted up on the patio are several bright fuchsia Calibrachoa, clustered in one large terra cotta pot. A darling plant that blooms now until July, when it will give a last gasp and say Adios. They are so very lovely, that I don’t mind the short lived nature. Long ago and far away in another garden, I came across this plant in the loveliest double bloom form. It was one of the most admired pots of blooms, ever in my garden. It actually returned year after year, until one year it didn’t. I’ve never found another variety quite the same, the quest continues. Five small Dwarf Yaupons round out this day, easy enough to pop into the soil at the back of the large backyard garden. Evergreen, for when other beauties fade during the Winter months.
Now with my heart singing cheerily and my body singing dirges of sore muscles, I can allow myself some peace. Though, I know tomorrow I have all those bio-degradable seedling containers to pot up with seeds. And those two new trees to find.
3 March 2022
REPRINTED FROM KUKKA
BLUE RIBBON NEWS
February in Texas, oh fickle month. A temperamental twenty-eight day period, faithless and unpredictable, (though, March can be nearly as capricious.) Upon reaching February, Texans and those settlers who arrived over fifty years ago, long enough to be considered a Texan despite the scoffs of those born on hallowed ground, have had enough of winter’s delightful cool air and the hint of frostiness that brings an occasional teasing nip our way. Those who have not enough, move to Colorado. By February, we may, or may not, have had opportunity to wear our sweaters. This though, is where some natives show conspicuously, striding sidewalks for exercise on sunny, fifty nine degree days, in parkas, knit caps and gloves. I refrain from voicing my superiority in this regard, in my strong desire to consider myself Texan as noted above.
Days may burst forth warm and balmy in February, seventy to seventy five degrees not uncommon. Perennials in the garden begin to pop up green buds ‘neath winter dried foliage. We are so anxious to escape the four walls, where indoor winter projects idle in the back of our minds as we dawdle in lethargy, longing to dig, plant, cultivate. Hours later, the winds turn and soon blast our tiny buds with bitter cold, freezing rain and ice pellets, sheathing all surfaces in slippery, solid ice. Schools close. Store shelves empty. The newspaper does not come! We tap into our pioneer spirit, pull out blankies and books, and we guzzle cups of coffee and hot chocolate in front of warm fireplaces, napping frequently despite wicked caffeine buzzes. Thus Texans survive the beating of brutal elements. Hibernation ensues, sometimes as long as two days (in a typical year.)
Then – as if the angel of mercy has waved wings over, temps rise – ten and twenty degrees or more per day, and we soar back into the sunny seventies, within four days’ passage. Anticipating Spring (we know better – we do) we burst from the house, roll up freeze cloth, water potted plants and young shrubs. Enthused and eager to be in the happy place, the garden, we easily lose sight - of sheets of thick, solid ice that have taken firm hold on shady spots, unwilling to loosen their grip despite the warmth; in this short tale, particularly on an uncovered patio area. Thus, on a seductively warm, February day, a woman of a certain age may find herself, flat on her back on a sizeable patch of ice, having cracked open her elbow, conked her head and performed the splits – when she has never previously accomplished this feat in her life. She lays, looking at the clear blue sky above, after some moments, thanking the good Lord, the angels, and all the fairies surrounding, that kept bones from snapping or shattering. This is when she is thankful for bruises, aches and pains, and over the counter pain relief.
And after she has pulled herself upright, called the cat in from his wandering and limps toward the door – her eyes brighten to see the Carolina Jessamine spiraling up an iron obelisk, towards the warming sun – preparing to ease open - saturated, butter yellow blooms, in February.
REPRINTED FROM KUKKA
BLUE RIBBON NEWS