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Bullying of any kind. Against LGBTQ people. Against people of different religions. Against people of differing political views. Against people of other races. Against people of other cultures. I stand against bullying and mockery of any and all humans.

Asheville, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” — Desmond Tutu

Daily gratitudes:
A beautiful day
Coffee with MKL
Regrouping and determining next steps
Joy’s pictures of puppies at the beach

Iris seem to be the thing these days here in our Never Summerland otherwise known as Colorado. They are blooming late, but they, along with the poppies and the occasional peony are blooming. Storms come and go. Mr. Man is still thinking outside the box, which is frustrating, since all of his tests (and x-rays and ultrasounds) have come back looking stellar. So I am trying to join him in his thought process, and am planning to create a slate “throne” for him. We’ll see if that helps.

Another Iris

Berthoud, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” —  Iris Murdoch

Daily gratitudes:
The light after a storm
Yesterday morning’s full moonset
The grape-scented iris that Carrie brought me
The big man skipping through Sam’s Diner with the little girl today
The light in MKL’s eyes when he looks at me

My grandmother had an emerald green thumb.  My Mother always joked that hers was black.  The green thumb seemed to skip a generation and land on my hand.

Having a black thumb did not stop my Mother from trying.  In fact, I have very early memories of her gardening, and in springtime, it takes very little to make them all come rushing back.  Today in a coffee shop, there was a tall vase of forsythia branches behind the counter.  That was the trigger.  And so, I took a mental tour of my yard as I was growing up.  Won’t you join me?

There was a forsythia bush at the back of the yard, against the fence by the alley.  It was always the first thing to bloom come spring; that was how I knew that spring was really here. 

Next would come the tulips.  They were planted along that same fence and returned every year.  Red, red with yellow stripes, and yellow ones. 

The forsythia bush was there before my parents bought the house, but my mother planted the tulips before I was born.  Clematis vines also grew along that wall, in random shades of purple – they were some of her favorites.

On the backside of that segment of the fence was a Mimosa Tree. I loved those blossoms – nectar-sweet fragrance, and kitten-soft pink blossoms.  It stopped blooming at some point after I left home. 

None of the garden was ever tended.  After my mother ran out of time (and patience with her thumb), she allowed what was established to continue, but never added, weeded, tended, or watered.  She just let it be.  Though seed catalogs continued to come to the house for my whole life – perhaps a sign of perpetual hope.

I do remember when I was almost 3, sitting in the dirt with her and helping her plant seeds – carrots, I think it was, for I vaguely recall pulling some of them with her in the summer.

On the fence at the side yard grew white climbing roses – Iceberg Roses.  They were delicately fragrant. 

And under the kitchen window was a beautiful red rose bush.  Mother used to cut blooms for my father to take to work with him, carefully wrapping the stems in tinfoil for his walk to work.

The north and south sides of the fence were covered with honeysuckle.  Such a strange plant, it looks dead in winter, then as spring inches in, those skeleton branches turn velvet and supple, start sprouting new leaves, and finally bloom with creamy trumpet-shaped flowers. 

My thumbnails were stained yellow half the summer from breaking off the ends of the blossoms, gently pulling out the stamen and touching my tongue to the single drop of nectar that shone at the end of that strand.

Moving around to the front yard, there was a Camellia bush under the dining room window, rich with pink blooms that turned brown so quickly after they were cut.  It always struck me as the quintessential Southern plant, and I loved how tightly the camellia buds were wrapped when they emerged.

By the front door was my favorite, a gardenia bush, that did not always blossom, which made it all the more special when it did.  The dark leaves used to get small bugs on them that I would spend time delicately squishing from my perch on the stone slab along the stairline.  When I was pregnant, I used to have olfactory hallucinations, and the primary one was the smell of gardenias.

Wisteria was rampant under the study window, dripping with lavender blooms in the summer and sueded green seed pods in fall.  It expanded to fit the available space, sometimes trying to crawl into the house from under the eaves, and the bees made us run screaming past it in the late afternoons when we played out front.

Under both front windows were the dreaded juniper bushes.  Prickly and unpleasant, we kept our distance – although E-Bro did hide a six-pack of beer under one of them once as a young teenager – I think he found it again some years later.

The lower steps were lined on either side by drifts and drifts of purple and white thrift.  I loved the thrift – I used to nibble the flowers like a little goat, as they were so sweet and delicate.  These cascading flowers (not really called thrift, but that’s the only term I knew them by) were so spectacular that the newspaper once carried a picture of them.  But over time, they were consumed by ivy.

And finally, by the street, two crepe myrtle trees with flamboyant magenta flowers. 

I have omitted mentioning the pecan trees for a reason – I’ll save that for another day.  Thanks for joining me for a tour of the yard as I remember it.  I wonder what Kelsea will remember about my garden in 35 years?

One of my favorite old movies is a little known film called “The Enchanted Cottage”.   It’s not available on DVD, so it’s just the luck of the draw if I ever get to see it.  It’s not very exciting and kind of old-fashioned, but it’s about a man disfigured in the war and a woman who is just NOT pretty.  The man meets the woman in a little house and when he steps inside he becomes handsome to her and she becomes beautiful to him.  The spell never wears off, even when they are outside the cottage, but everyone else sees them as they really are.  It’s a lovely little story.

My cottage, my current home, reminds me of that.  Not that I am more beautiful when I am inside, but just that it has this magical quality to it.  It’s not particularly outstanding.  It has high ceilings and white walls that, even after a year, I have yet to hang anything on – but that will come soon.  It gets quite cold because of misplaced heating vents.  But when I go inside it, I feel…like someone is holding me….like the cottage itself loves me.  I can stay comfortably cuddled up in there for days.  And at the same time, it feels like it is growing with me, evolving with me, helping me to heal.  Perhaps somehow helping me to see myself as beautiful, just as in the movie.  Helping me to see my real self.

All the little woodland creatures – the foxes, deer, birds, squirrels – that wander through my yard, by my windows, even on my small porch (deer tracks there this morning), add to this sort of fairytale quality that I feel there.   I’m some sort of Sleeping Beauty but I’m awake.  The rescued eagle next door calls out to me throughout the day, and sometimes into the night hours, complementing the howling of the coyotes and the all-too-rare lowing of the cows.

The red velvet couch is such an out-of-character piece – but that’s the thing, it’s NOT.  It’s actually me.  It’s just the me that I couldn’t ever express in my marriage.  (I read somewhere that when women leave their husbands and start feathering their own nests that they gravitate towards decorating with bright colors.) 

The bed is amazing – vast and comfortable, and the play of light through the curtains in the mornings is like waking up in a dream.

It’s not perfect, but what is?  It has its creaks and groans and the heater is remarkably loud.  And it has ghosts, though I have yet to determine if they belong to me or to the cottage.  That’s something I plan to investigate.  I can feel them at night, and occasionally hear them.  But I feel safe there. 

The little roof over the door is tin – I love to hear the rain falling on it in the summer.  Storms come up and blow by, the wind chimes measuring their ferocity.  Lilacs bloom by the split-rail fence in the spring and the big tree breathes its restless, delicate, sweet scent through the warm days until autumn.  Set far enough off the dead-end road that there’s usually no noise from traffic, the year-round cooing of the mourning doves puts me in an island mind, even while the snow sparkles like frozen diamonds on the ground.  I’ve never seen diamond snow anywhere but here.

Getting from the truck to the cottage some winter nights makes me feel like the opening scenes in Wuthering Heights, with the lonely, weary traveller stumbling towards refuge through the driving snow.  No path to follow, no light to guide my key, I could be in the Yukon for all it’s worth.  But on clear nights, the stars and moon light the ground to my door.  And some nights the moon lights up my bedroom like a lamp from another world, and I cannot sleep for bathing in its beams.

This is to be my place to bloom, to write, to come into my own, to feel my power, to cherish myself.  How wonderful.

June 2020


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