Saturday, September 19, 2015

Summer's End

Sunset over the Saco River
 "What good is the warmth of summer,                                  
                      without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."
                                                                                                     ------John Steinbeck
So I consulted the calendar, and it told me that the last of day of summer this year is September 23.
This year, more than ever, I feel very rushed by the cadence of time passing me by.  
I don't tolerate heat well, and for years, by the time August rolls around, I am checking weather forecasts hoping to see cooler temperatures in the offing.

Not sure why, but not so this year.  I am more at peace with Summer.  I have embraced sweating perspiring, and learned to love a cool and refreshing afternoon bath.  And then there's the sprinkler to keep growing things going; make sure to wear flip flops, cool water on the feet always helps.
Oh my gosh, I just love these two sooooo much! (Evan and Christina)
 It probably has more to do with my Empty Nest.  The youngest has gone off to college, as have the older two, who were home for the summer.
Caution:  Wake
So, I'm going to eeeaase myself along through this transition.  First, I'll recap the summer, and get some of its stories off my chest.  And then, I'll strike out for the adventures the future holds.  
Coming with me?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Slideshow, Part 6 CMBG

 Won't you come sit here with me?  I've just poured coffee.  Do you take milk or sugar?
 I've given up looking for inspiration for this post.  I'm not quite sure what to write about.  
And so, I've decided to let the pictures do the work.
A Weeping Norway  Spruce...that's right, weeping, like a willow.  A genetic mutation apparently.
Looking back up the hill, as we stroll down to the lake.  You can see the rose arbor.

I can't remember what these are, I've seen them before.  I adore the lacy foliage.
The trail curves back and forth in tight hairpin loops down the steep hillside.
This picture came out poorly, too much in shade.  I had to take it though, because it reminded me of this.
Half Dome, in miniature.
Ansel Adams

 Rest here, in the shade, with this not-so-shy fern.
Looking down a dry stream bed, left behind from the spring snowmelt runoff.

That's all I've got for today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...or CMBG, Part 5

I should have been named "Mary", but as far as I know, that was never on the list of possibilities.
I remember, when young, loving so many different kinds of flowers, and being even a little indignant of the exalted position of the rose.  
I had the same reaction to diamonds, and gold jewelry, satin and lace and eventually champagne.....  Perhaps I was a champion of the underdog?  It just bothered me to have the beauty of non-roses be overlooked, even slighted.  I made it up to violets and daisies by cherishing them all the more, while secretly wishing they had fragrance like the lush lilacs outside my parents' bedroom window. 
While Lady's Mantle can stand on its own, it makes a gorgeous backdrop for ....
...Pink Roses!
 Eventually, my mother began to improve the row of arbor vitae and yew shrubs across the front of our ranch house by ordering roses from Jackson & Perkins.  First, the catalogs would come to the house in late January, along with Burpee's, Gurney's and Park Brothers.  J&P knew how to win me.  Their catalog came in a sealed envelope, which when opened released the glorious fragrance of their latest rose.  Over the years, Mum planted some lovely roses*:
Sterling Silver
Fragrant Cloud (!)
Irish Gold
Abraham Lincoln
Angel Face

are the names I remember easily, but there were more.  All so lovely, how could I not love them?

I was so happy to discover that Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens had a Rose Arbor.

And no doubt in years to come, there will be climbing roses making use of the wooden structure.
For now, clematis is doing its best.
And now, having allowed myself to fall head-over-heals in love with roses, I admit to having found the rose garden a bit sparse and actually diluted by companion plantings, however lovely in their own right. I hope to see, in time, an ever-growing variety of types and colors, and intoxicating perfumes!


"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or 

rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

-----Abraham Lincoln

* The images of the roses were borrowed from various sources, as identified in Google searches.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Images of CMBG, speaking metaphors (Pt 4 of the CMBG series)

 Today marks an event which shall live forever in our memories.  September 11, 2001 scars our collective history indelibly and infamously.   
In all the years I have had this blog, I have never written on or about this day.
I have never felt equal to the task.
 This year, I have spent a sobering hour or so looking up statistics, in an effort to grasp the enormity of the human losses suffered as a result of the heinous acts of 19 perpetrators.  I can only conclude that the actions of those 19 humans are the legacy of Hate.  Hate is the motivator and the fuel, and disproportionate lethal violence is its expression.  What utter waste. How absolutely futile.
The existence of hate in our world strikes fear in my heart; it is amorphous, pervasive, and universally accessible to all, emboldening the darkest designs of evil that the human mind can conjure.  

Perhaps because I am the mother of 3 sons, the youngest of whom has this year joined his brothers in registering for the draft, I am ever aware of the solemn and noble work of fine American military personnel to resist the forces of hate and evil propelled in our direction.  My sons are college students, and not serving in the military, which, I admit selfishly, gives me some peace in my heart.  But I respect and am grateful for those who do serve.  I pray for their safety and well-being.
We live in a beautiful but flawed world.  We are a beautiful creation, made in God's own image, but we are fallen from grace, and fall prey to the sin of hatred and violence, both as aggressor and victim.  Our salvation is brought upon us by God's mercy and compassion. 
His Love is greater than all the Hate in the world.  Today is a day to remember this and gather it into our hearts.
I hope you find comfort in God's eternal love today as you remember and inevitably re-live the horrors of that terrible day 14 years ago.  I know I do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Things growing can be so satisfying, or BCMG Pt. 3

 Summer 1991.  I was pregnant with our first son, and for the first time in years I felt the urge to put some seeds in the ground.  Jeff and I lived in a tiny apartment in a tidy little complex in Akron, Ohio with our cat Andy.  The 2-story buildings were brick, and the interior walls plaster.  I think they were built just after WWII.  There were 2 tiny bedrooms and an eat-in kitchen, with hardly room for a tiny table and 4 small chairs.  But there were windows on 3 sides, and the buildings were fairly well-maintained, and they reminded me a little of the House I lived in on my college campus back in Western Massachusetts.
Mock Orange
 So, on weekends, I toiled away in the backyard up next to the building, making a  flower bed, probably about 2-1/2 feet deep, and about 12 feet in length.  I could hardly spare the time, and really didn't have the money to plant anything really lavish.  I guess it was really more of a cutting garden.
 I had no tools, so I bought only hand tools -- a trowel and a little, whaddyacallit, a hand rake of sorts. I got down on my hands and knees (pretty soon I learned to use a piece of corrugated cardboard to kneel on), and dug up the grass, and loosened up the dirt. I think I may have enriched the soil with a little bit of fertilizer?  I didn't have a hose, but there was a spigot on the building, so I got a watering can and moistened the soil.
 I bought only seeds, because it was cheaper.  I planted zinnias and snapdragons, and I must say they were a great choice.  Because both types of flower gave me a variety of colors.  The zinnias were the most showy, and the snapdragons delicate and endearing.
 Mum and I thought my need to make things grow had to do with my gestating a brand new little human - the stirrings of a maternal self.
These days I'm feeling more ambivalent about growth and progression. 
 We are empty-nesters, and I feel like the victim of some kind of a dirty trick.  We drove out to Cleveland a couple of weeks ago to install the third and final son in college.  We couldn't be prouder of our boys, but I miss them so......
But of even more import, since my last update on my brother David, he has had more problems with his darn melanoma.  He has had surgery to remove tumors from his spine, received radiation and more immunotherapy, and a tumor in his brain is being irradiated today.  I am cheering for his non-cancerous cells, especially his immune system to grow and progress and destroy the cancerous cells.

I am hopeful, but still a little worried.  I find myself on my knees more, in prayer.  Maybe I should visualize myself on some cardboard, planting little seeds of immune cells to flourish fighting the melanoma.
I'm sure no explanation is needed, but just to be complete, the above photos were all taken at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.  And there are still more to come.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Part 2

What is this flowering tree?

As we strolled the gardens, sometimes I thought to check the labels of the plants and flowers, but not always.  I have no idea what this tree is, but I thought the blossoms were so creamy and frothy.

 This reflexology labyrinth was a pretty cool feature in the Lerner Garden of the 5 Senses.  We removed our shoes and socks and meditated our way around and around.  
 Even if you wish to leave your shoes on, you can trace the route with your finger.
I wish I had taken a picture of the whole thing, so you could see that the smooth stones gradually decreased in size as you travel further inward, and the massaging effect on the soles of your feet changes.

 As you travel around the first outer circle, you can reach the soft and furry lambs' ears plants, and who can resist them?
 So healthy and gone to flower.  And look at that brilliant contrast with the plant behind.
 Next, while your feet are bare you walk between two pools, the one on the right has a weir about 3 feet high, and there is a cascade of cool water flowing over it, and across the walkway into the lower pool.  For real refreshment, I stepped right up to the little waterfall, and let the cool water splash on my feet and ankles.

I have no idea what this is besides pretty.

 Love the color contrasts....
A close-up of my favorite color contrast.

More next time.