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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

And I keep my promises. These grow at the end of my alley, and I’m tempted to dig some up, divide them, and plant some in my yard, but I don’t know the people who they belong to, and truth be told (though most don’t believe me), I’m rather shy. Perhaps a midnight caper is in order…

Iris

Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” — Oscar Wilde

Daily gratitudes:
Outlander
Small steps to recover the garden
A visit from Kelsea
Letting the cashier at Walmart rant because people are rude
Versaries

On top of my own scare today, my heart is aching for the families of Moore, Oklahoma who lost homes, loved ones, and children. This image of the children’s garde at the lovely Oklahoma City Memorial seemed fitting today. Wishing you all as much peace as you can find tonight.

Oklahoma City Memorial

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Quote of the day: “What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” — Suzanee Collins

Daily gratitudes:
Kelsea
MKL
People who stand by me
Prayers
Clouds

 

Photo title: Through the Garden Gate

Somewhere along a road in Wales.

Quote of the day: “The greater part of our lives is spent in dreaming over the morrow, and when it comes, it, too, is consumed in the anticipation of a brighter morrow, and so the cheat is prolonged, even to the grave.”  —  Mark Rutherford

Today’s guest poet – Emily Dickinson

My Garden – Like The Beach

My Garden — like the Beach —
Denotes there be — a Sea —
That’s Summer —
Such as These — the Pearls
She fetches — such as Me

My landlady and I started planting the garden yesterday.  I didn’t have a garden last year at all.  Only a cactus plant, an immortal poinsettia, and a miniature potted rose that greens but no longer blooms.

The garden at Pat’s house had been active for years.  Some years, it was amazing – a riot of color and an abundance of produce.  Other years it was frustrating – bugs and dogs and weather combined forces to destroy almost anything I touched.  But as our marriage failed, the garden failed as well.  It hurts me deeply to think of it, to think of dreams now lost – the garden was a metaphor for my marriage.  Pat’s hurt has been reflected in his neglect of the garden, and the property in general.

He has decided to make the side yard very nice this year, and I take that as a hopeful sign that he will be okay.

My LL and I were in the massive big-box hardware store, looking for seeds and manure, and we discussed hammocks.  I want to take my hammock from Pat’s house, but it hurts me to do so.  He built the garden arbor to house the hammock.  It was the last thing he built for me.  On the other hand, it’s mine – a gift from my family – so I should have it if I want it.  He doesn’t care about it.  He almost never uses it.  It’s time for a fresh start for me, for Pat and for the hammock.

It was hard work preparing the garden, but it was satisfying.  I like sitting in the dirt, letting it run through my fingers.  I never cease to be amazed by seeds – these miniscule black dots that look more like fleas than anything else, and yet that will become a head of lettuce, a huge hollyhock, or a field of orange poppies.  How do they do it?  How is all that knowledge and life stored in this tiny little package?  It makes me more wonderous of how the universe works to create things than contemplating how humans evolved.  Did seeds evolve?  Or have they just always BEEN? 

In the past, gardening was a healing activity.  Peaceful.  Something that put me in touch with my roots, my ancestors, the earth, the basics of nature.  Once it got to be a chore, and Pat groused at me about not keeping up with weeding and watering, and yet kept making more and more planting spaces that he expected me to fill and maintain to his satisfaction (which I never could), I lost my zest for it.  I fell out of love with it. 

I’d like to fall back in love.  I’m looking forward to watching beans push up through the soil.  To the amazing spread of pumpkin vines.  To pulling spicy radishes, and making a meal of them with an ice-cold beer.  To tending window boxes of geraniums that coordinate with my colorful cottage.

Yes, it’s nice to fall in love again.

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?

On this day in 1847, the first group of rescuers reached the Donner Party.

Heavens, what a horrible trip these poor people had.  As you may know, the Donner Party is famous for having had to resort to cannibalism to survive when their overland journey from Illinois to California was stalled by deep snow in the Sierra Nevadas.  To me, one of the most unfortunate parts of this tale of woe is that, when the first rescue party arrived, while 14 of the emigrants had died, there had been no cannibalism.  However, in the week-long interval between the arrival of the first and the second relief parties, the survivors had begun to eat their dead.  Desperate times, desperate measures.  It’s not impossible to imagine. 

Today is the day that 30,000 United States Marines (boo-rah!) landed on Iwo Jima in 1945.  The image of the American Flag being raised by six soldiers was taken on the 5th day of the 35-day long battle by photographer Joe Rosenthal, and was the first photo to win a Pulitzer prize in the same year it was published.  Three of the six men in the photograph were killed in action during the conflict, which was ultimately a victory for the Allied Forces.

It’s the birthday of Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, born in 1876.   Bohemian, with a rare ability to capture essence rather than appearance, Brancusi was a shepherd-turned-sculptor who excelled in carvings in wood, stone and bronze. 

He also made most of his own furniture and doorways, so he was clearly handy to have around the home.  A spiritual man, he nevertheless had a strong appreciation for wine, women and smokes. In the last 19 years of his career, Brancusi only made 15 sculptures, and in an interview towards the end of his life, was said to have been puttering around his studio, “communing with the silent host of fish, birds, heads and endless columns he’d created.” 

He’s known for having created the most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction ($37.2 million).  Sorry to be a modern art ignoramus, but I have to ask why this piece sold for that much.

Brancusi’s grave is in Montparnasse in Paris, which ironically has several sculptures that he crafted as gravestones for others.  His grave is remarkably unadorned, and for a reason that I can’t identify, he appears to have been buried with abstract husband-and-wife painters Alexandre Istrati and Natalia Dumitresco.

Today is British actress Merle Oberon’s birthday (1911-1979).  Beautiful yes, but honestly, I never thought much of her acting skills.  She’s always seemed so wooden and as if she were overacting.  She was the mixed race child of a British subject and a Ceylonese/Maori Eurasian woman, though it is unclear if her mother was actually her mother or, in reality, her grandmother.  After a car crash in 1937 resulted in severe facial trauma, she was somewhat obsessed with film and lighting techniques that would minimize the appearance of her scars onscreen.  She died from a stroke at the age of 68 and is now a resident of the famous Forest Lawn Cemetary.  (I had a friend who urinated on graves there by accident once in the dark.)

Today in 1963, Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking feminist book “The Feminine Mystique” was published.

I waited on Betty Friedan back in 1981 when I worked at a clothing store in Harvard Square called Serendipity.  I recall sneaking peeks at her as I ran her credit card through the machine.  I have to say, and I truly, truly, mean no disrespect by saying this, that she was one of the ugliest women that I have ever seen.  Though I did compliment her on her book.  Even though I never read it. 

It’s Chocolate Mint Day.  If you’ve never grown it in your garden, I’d encourage you to do so.  It really does smell just like chocolate when you rub its little leaves.

And lastly, it’s the 12th anniversary of the death of Grandpa Jones.  Known as Grandpa due to his extreme grumpiness when he arrived for early-morning radio shows, he was a remarkable clawhammer banjo player and a longtime cast member of “Hee Haw”, which will, no doubt, only be familiar to Southerners of a certain age.

When I was 15, I was forced to participate in a “talent” show at Theosophy Camp in Hot Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, where I was staying with my grandmother one summer, and the skit in which I had to perform was a recreation of the singing washboard women from Hee-Haw.  Oh, dear.  I’ll leave the whole damn thing to your imagination.

Thus endeth the history lesson.  Hope you feel slightly enlightened.

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