April 30, 2014
6:03 am cdt | link
Every day the words find me. This morning I decide to write
about the pansies idling on the kitchen table, the lavender ones, I am going to transfer from plastic seed containers into
a clay pot. But then the phone rings and the voice I hear changes my story.
The man calling is a farmer who has been contracted to do some tilling in the field garden. He
is a big man, tough. His skin is weathered, his hands are huge. I have looked at those hands and wondered if he has trouble
finding gloves to fit them. But what is most remarkable about this man is the musculature of his upper body. It is of weight
lifter proportions. It seems he could lift up the front end of a small truck with little effort.
We get to talking. About the snow of the past winter, of the difficult spring. He talks
about not having enough propane to keep baby turkeys alive, about financial hardship. Then this tough man, in a culture where
newspapers are filled with stories of trusted men who have taken advantage of innocent children, casually mentions this. “My
pumpkin crop was so infested from the wet spring last year I was only able to realize a handful of pumpkins come fall. And
I had promised to give a truckload to a school for handicapped kids. You know, I couldn’t disappoint those handicapped
kids. I called around and was able to buy up a truckload of pumpkins.”
April 29, 2014
5:38 am cdt | link
This morning it is windy and rainy. It has been windy and
rainy for days. Worry edges my thinking about greenhouse seeds, hoop gardens, washout in the field garden. Inclement weather.
My Native American grandmother knew when the snow would arrive, when the fish would be biting. I do not know what she knew.
Nor do I know and understand all the effects man has had, and continues to have, on rainfall, snowfall, those fish.
So I whisper my worries to the wind and the wind shouts back.
My, our, actions have created this angry, belligerent, back-talking weather child. We harvest what we sow. Oh, but the everywhere
lawns are turning beautifully green for us to admire, taking not a blade of blame, as they should, for inclement weather.
April 28, 2014
6:14 am cdt | link
Book groups, or book clubs, flourish. Some reading groups
stick to a particular genre: mysteries, science fiction or maybe women writers only; other groups read across the board. Locally
there is a group of mothers and their teenage daughters who make up a book group, I also know of several reading groups composed
of couples. Libraries all have book groups and churches often do, too. Book groups are social, fun and often get you reading,
and discussing, a book you might otherwise not have read.
Writing groups also flourish. I happen to belong to two. One is a group that focuses primarily on poetry writing,
reading and appreciation, the other a group comprised of writers who work on stories, memoir pieces, book chapters, essays.
At the meetings the writers read what they have written and the other members give helpful input. These groups, like book
groups, are social and fun. And when a member’s piece is published, there are good wishes, celebratory support, and
champagne, all around.
My above words about reading
and writing are prompted by an advertisement for iPad Air on the back cover of this week’s The New Yorker,
an advertisement I am looking at right this moment. “Everyone has a passion. A new idea to share. A stanza to add to
the world’s story. What will your verse be?”
April 27, 2014
8:40 am cdt | link
The plane ride is not the highlight of my trip, journey,
vacation. Being stuffed into a tin cigar between a cougher and an anxious flyer, is not my, or most anyone’s, idea of
fun. So much of traveling by plane is standing in line, having no control and waiting. The bright moments of the trip are
the kindness of strangers and the pleasure felt when arriving at one’s destination. And if you are sitting by a window,
the occasional visage of earth altered but so perfect in its imperfections. So I was not expecting to be struck by the beauty
of a small plane. A plane with a history.
in the airplane hangar of a friend. Examining, with eyes that know nothing about planes, his old, but restored and flyable
airplane. This plane is beautiful. In beautiful condition and beautifully painted, blue and yellow with a red and white striped
tail. Used as a training plane in WWII, the Stearman has two open cockpits where I imagine, for a moment, a leather helmeted
instructor and a future fighter pilot sitting. I am caught up in examining the outside of the plane, caught up in the glimpses,
through small openings, of the plane’s spruce armature. Built in 1941 the aircraft I am looking at is all about flying.
It is about our desire to move among the clouds, our ability to figure out how to leave the earth’s gravitational pull
and soar. Well, we did it. And the story is a good one.
April 26, 2014
7:58 am cdt | link
Yesterday my friend stopped to show me a European fashion
magazine. She had just been downtown and because she knows I love poetry, she had picked up a couple of poems for me from
stores that were giving them away. By giving poems away I mean an event happening in Northfield promoting poetry called Poem
in Your Pocket. Poem in Your Pocket is the give-away of a short poem, printed on a small piece of paper, to literally take
and put in your pocket. One of the poems she gave me, a poem I was unfamiliar with by Marsden Hartley, is called "Fishmonger."
I have taken scales from off
The cheeks of the moon.
I have made fins from bluejays’ wings,
I have made eyes from damsons in the shadow,
I have taken flushes from peachlips in the sun.
From all these I have made a fish of heaven for you,
Set it swimming on a young October sky.
I sit on the bank of the stream and watch
The grasses in amazement
As they turn
to ashy gold.
Are the fishes from the rainbow
Still beautiful to you,
For whom they are made,
For whom I have set them,
My friend, who shares my love of words, said she was certain I would like this poem. Oh, and I do!
April 25, 2014
5:54 am cdt | link
I am pondering the word “adapt.” We adapt. To
new people in our lives, to changed financial circumstances, to a new address, to loss of hearing or some other physical impairment,
to an altered diet, to a different lifestyle. Sometimes we can work to change that which threatens us, impels us to act, sometimes
not. Without adaption or change, we are, or can be, in trouble.
When we moved to Minnesota from warmer Connecticut I could not bear to leave behind a Japanese red maple tree
given to me as a birthday gift. It was a small tree, bushy, and a beautiful accent to the garden with its winey colored leaves.
Minutes before the moving van arrived we dug up the tree and wrapped the root ball in damp burlap. When it was loaded on the
van, I watched with crossed fingers. Days later the van was unloaded and the tree planted in a Minnesota garden. The date
was December 17th.
The chances were
slim that the Japanese maple would survive. But it did. In a climate known to be too cold for this variety of tree, it has
somewhat changed its normal shape yet it flourishes. A few days ago I checked on the health of the tree after one of the coldest
winters on record. Buds. To survive here the maple has adapted. I have, too.
April 24, 2014
5:54 am cdt | link
Should the Admiral, and the General, come to dinner, or
should I have an audience with the Pope, should I be invited to take tea with the Queen or for a ride on Air Force One, I
am, thanks to Amy Vanderbilt, going to know how to behave.
A few days ago I was dusting off a bookshelf and there, unnoticed since I can’t remember when, was Vanderbilt’s
Complete Book of Etiquette. I think this tome belonged to my mother. Giving it a quick perusal it appeared that etiquette,
when this book was written, belonged to those folks who were regularly invited to an embassy, were friends of the Du Ponts
or filled out dance cards at Downton Abby.
heard a bride-to-be mention that she was having a hard time planning her wedding reception because invitees weren’t
returning the reply cards included in the wedding invitation. Should she just guess, she wondered, at how many might be coming
or should she make telephone calls to find out? She was unsure what to do.
Times change as do rules of etiquette. But using good manners, I think, just means being thoughtful.
There is no rule saying we have to give up our seat on the bus for that woman who is nine and one-half months pregnant, the
one holding a bag of groceries and clutching the hand of a toddler. It might be, though, the thoughtful thing to do.
April 23, 2014
8:21 am cdt | link
Baby carriage, never used, for sale.
The above six word short story is attributed to Ernest Hemingway. He is said to
have written it on a bet. His writing it, though, is really more legend than fact. What is fact, however, is that the assignment
for the last fifteen minutes of today¹s English class was the writing of a six word story by each student.
Thoughtful students had fun writing stories.
Man finds oil, builds an empire.
Painted canvas fills room with genius.
Rabbit runs under porch. Cat waits.
actions capsize boat. Three die.
Sweet kisses, promises made, promises kept.
Single shot fells president. History
Neighbor boy grows up, marries money.
Your turn now, tell the story!
April 22, 2014
7:31 am cdt | link
A couple of days ago I saw a toad, felt it, too, as it brushed along the back
of my hand when I was cleaning up in the garden. Today I heard the peepers.
I loved hearing peepers in the wetlands along the Connecticut River, a regular spring sound near the ferry landing
on the South Glastonbury side of the river. A place I walked the dog almost daily. The peepers were many in number, and their
chorus could be heard almost a mile away. It is a male chorus only, though, and the frogs are singing in hopes of attracting
a mate. Going in search of the vocalizing frogs, wanting to witness their singing, is a futile task. They are artfully camouflaged
and hide themselves in a way that only the female of the species can find them.
The peepers that I heard today are singing from a habitat called Sibley Swale. Not a particularly large area,
only a bit of wet and wild scrubland, really, in an established neighborhood. But a beautiful place. A place where a chorus
of frogs sounds like hundreds of tiny bells. And spring.
April 21, 2014
7:16 am cdt | link
A friend has me thinking about poet Marianne Moore. And the line, "imaginary
gardens with real toads in them," from her poem, "Poetry." I mentally switch the words to "real
gardens with imaginary toads in them." Both phrases hold me and I toss them around and look at them from different directions.
Poet Moore tells the reader of "Poetry" we do not appreciate what we cannot understand. But wait.
I am in the real garden and I have just seen a real toad. A tiny creature smaller than
a spool of thread. As I removed leaves from the Oriental poppies, he brushed against my bare hand. I am clueless about
this reptile, know little about him except that he resides in what I refer to as my garden. But it is his garden, too. And
both of us surprised to find the other there.
We regularly visit,
I think, both real gardens with imaginary toads and imaginary gardens with real toads. But we exist, I know, in the real garden
with the real toads.
April 20, 2014
8:26 am cdt | link
Napatree. Today. The sky is cloudless and the wind, blowing about ten miles
per hour, is from the southeast. It is cool, in the fifties, but a brave soul is walking barefoot. At 1:39 p.m. the tide will
be at its highest, rolling in and leaving ocean stories on the beach. Provisions for walking to the point include tuna sandwiches,
oranges and for the children, chocolate eggs. Join us.
April 19, 2014
8:12 am cdt | link
"If you have no daughters, give them to your sons, one a penny, two a
penny hot cross buns."
In Tudor times a street cry, which preceded
the nursery rhyme, went like this. "Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross
The Easter season brings with it food heavily associated
with symbolism. Eggs represent beginnings and ham represents luck. Lamb is associated with new life and sacrifice, rabbits,
even the chocolate kind, represent fertility. Hot cross buns, about which there are interesting and varying histories, are
little spiced breads served on Maunday Thursday through noon on Good Friday. The buns, marked with a white frosting cross,
represent the death of Christ.
I purchased some very good hot cross
buns at a local bakery. We ate them all, unwittingly, before noon on Good Friday. There used to be rules surrounding when
hot cross buns could be made and eaten. The breaking of such rules came with punishment.
In New Zealand and Australia, chocolate chips are often used in hot cross buns instead of raisons or
currents. A sweet advance for Sunday¹s Easter basket candy.
April 18, 2014
7:55 am cdt | link
The late afternoon wedding took place at a beautiful New England church. The
reception following, at a local golf club. The bride¹s mother requested that during dinner, before the live band appeared
for the after dinner party and dancing, the DJ play classical music. Shortly into the meal the mother-of-the-bride went to
talk to the DJ. When she reminded him that she had requested classical music, he responded saying he was playing classical
music. He was playing Frank Sinatra.
My friend has just taken a
course on standard music. Standard music meaning, I think, music that has endured, music originating on Broadway or in smoky
piano bars. Music sung by Billie Holiday or Helen Merrill, Nat "King" Cole or Frank Sinatra. Songs like "Star
Dust," played by Artie Shaw and his Orchestra, "Stormy Weather," played by Duke Ellington. Music passed along
and rearranged and rediscovered.
The standard music course provided
three CDs which my friend has shared and I have been playing. When I hear Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Etta James, I
am back in the kitchen on Emery Street listening to my mother singing, too.
April 17, 2014
7:20 am cdt | link
Sugar. It¹s bad for us. It¹s hard on our teeth and hard for our
body to metabolize. With what is referred to as an epidemic of diabetes, we are, all of us, becoming more careful about what
we eat. So we read labels on cereal boxes, for sugar content, and we purchase sugar free soda. We pass on dessert and
opt for fewer Christmas cookies and a slimmer slice of birthday cake. Knowing now that orange juice is often sugar filled,
we choose, instead, to eat the whole orange.
Sunday is Easter. Supermarket
and grocery stores have stocked up on cut flowers and flowering plants, hams and pineapples. And candy. They¹ve stocked
up on boxes of chocolates and Easter basket candy: jelly beans, marshmallow Peeps, chocolate rabbits, crème filled
eggs, circus peanuts and sugar coated gum drops to name a sampling. At the risk of sounding virtuous, which I am far from,
I try and stay away from sugar in my diet. My mantra has become, "Just a tiny piece for me, please." But, it¹s
Easter which comes only once a year. I have my eye on those marshmallow Peeps.
April 16, 2014
8:09 am cdt | link
Living in a colonial-era Connecticut house, and gardening directly behind
that old house, finding objects when digging in the soil was a regular occurrence. Pieces of tools, horse shoes, nails and
especially pieces of broken crockery, once an intact but lidless tea pot, were ordinary finds. I came to mentally picture
a woman, in long dress and apron, standing at her back door heaving out what she didn¹t want in her kitchen.
Once I was driving on a one lane, winding road behind a car whose driver tossed a fast
food container out the driver¹s window. A little later, a French fry box went sailing. Then, a soda cup flew out and,
lastly, a crumpled napkin. After a time the driver ahead of me pulled onto a scenic area along the Connecticut River and got
out of the car. As I passed I could see the single inhabitant of the car I had been driving behind. A tiny woman who looked
to be in her eighties.
About littering, we are not quick learners.
There is wisdom in the expression my Swedish grandmother said when I was young. Translated it is this. What is hidden in the
snow comes forward in the thaw.
April 15, 2014
9:10 am cdt | link
Last fall we planted hundreds of bulbs in the field. Tulips, daffodils, lilies.
In the last couple of weeks I¹ve been planting hundreds of seeds in the greenhouse. Scabiosa, statice, larkspur, gomphrena,
stock, prairie flower mixes and various kinds of asters. The winter past was so fierce with the earth, even under a generous
snow cover, freezing deep. Spring planting conditions, too, have been difficult. I have been worried. The field bulbs
did not appear when I felt they should. Nothing. Had they frozen and rotted? Would the greenhouse seeds germinate well, or
at all, with day after day of cloudy skies and cool, greenhouse temperatures?
Someone gave me a small paper notebook I treasure. It is titled Blue Notebook though the paper cover is black. On
the front of the notebook is a wood-cut design around the words "Keep Hope Alive." Even better are the tiny words,
printed in red ink, on the inside of the cover which read, "If you lose hope, you can always find it again."
Yesterday I noticed the field planted tulips pushing up. A sea of them. And in the
greenhouse a peppering of green in the seed trays. I confess that I had misplaced hope. But hope found me.
April 14, 2014
7:11 am cdt | link
I am mulling over the word "missing." At the moment I am missing
my bracelet. Some people would phrase the absence of my bracelet as, "My bracelet has gone missing." Like my bracelet
made a choice to roll off away from my clutches.
It is not unusual
to see the occasional missing cat or dog poster attached to a phone pole or tree in our neighborhood. We are a caring community.
In the past few days, though, there have been flyers posted featuring the photograph of a local man who has been missing for
over a week. A man who was last seen walking on the neighborhood golf course.
For weeks the world has been aware of a missing airplane. A plane filled with hundreds of souls, as I have heard
my pilot friend refer to those on board an aircraft, headed to China. I imagine those in charge of finding both the missing
man and missing aircraft, ponder if man and plane are missing or have gone missing.
A missing bracelet, even if it is a treasured one, means nothing. The anguished faces of those whose innocent
loved ones are on the missing plane, tell us missing people mean everything.
April 13, 2014
9:27 am cdt | link
On Sunday nights my mother regularly served our family cream of tomato soup
and sandwiches she called Cheese Dreams which were, I recall, nothing more than grilled cheese sandwiches. When my mother
and I went out for lunch at the Caramel Corn Shop, which we often did, I always ordered a peanut butter/banana sandwich made
Good sandwich making is an art. I am not particularly
adept at sandwich construction but I love, and appreciate, a well-made sandwich. Definitely quality bread combined with fresh
and sometimes unusual combinations of fillings. The sandwich should be cut well and not overly full and not look messy and
be, in "Chopped" vernacular, plated well. Now here I sound like I know what I am talking about, but I do know
we eat with our eyes.
Diane in my bridge group introduced me to
peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. And living near the shore, lobster roll was a favorite. Today my sandwich of choice is
called Mike¹s Bike which is served at our Division Street bagel shop. Roasted red peppers, havarti cheese, spinach and
a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. A perfect sandwich.
April 12, 2014
9:11 am cdt | link
Louise was my first Connecticut friend. She taught me things. She taught me how to
prepare lobster, swim through the surf and savor mocha ice cream. She shared her maternity clothes and her mother’s
recipe for potato salad. She lived in a place I was a stranger to but she opened the door and let me in. One day she brought
me a gift of a thyme plant in a strawberry pot. So, Louise. I put the pot on the patio and my toddler promptly backed
into it with a tricycle. Almost the next day Louise died. But Louise was my age. And I loved her. How could she possibly die
when I needed her in my life?
I just went out into my garden. The thyme Louise gave me is greening up. After her death I rescued it from the broken
pot and planted it on the edge of the patio where it thrived. And when we moved to another Connecticut home, some of the thyme
moved with me. Then it moved again. And again. A few years ago, after it spent days in a moving van, I planted Louise’s
thyme in a Minnesota garden. The planting took place on a cold December day. The thyme came back the following spring and
now, even after this hard winter, flourishes in abundance.
I carry Louise's lessons with me, along with the thyme.
11 April, 2014
7:32 am cdt | link
There were times that Joyce, our large tri-colored collie, would be greeted in startling
fashion by our sons when they returned home from a summer job or a semester at college. Each of them, on occasion, would scoop
her up, she was heavy, and run a brief distance around the yard. They did this, I suppose, because they were strong and glad
to see her and happy to be home. And at that particular moment in time, needed to act like they were ten-years-old.
A few years ago I was walking our sheltie,
Mickey, along Spring Creek near Bell Field when a student approached and asked, “Would it be okay if I pet your dog?”
Mickey was a mellow creature and, though he’d been rescued from the pound, he had been cared for and loved. I said petting
him would be fine. The Carleton student dropped his books and knelt down to the dog’s level. He talked to him and held
the dog’s head in both his hands. Then he stood up and said that he had heard from his mom that his dog, also a sheltie,
had just died. A pet he had received for his fifth birthday. I asked the student where home was and he said Washington State.
He asked if he could take the dog for a little run and I silently handed him the leash. But to my amazement he didn’t
run alongside the dog, he picked Mickey up and jogged, holding him in his arms, for a minute or two along the creek. Behavior
I had seen before. When he returned, he muttered thanks. And I pretended not to notice he was crying.
April 10, 2014
7:15 am cdt | link
People, it is said, can resemble their dogs. Because of my window desk which
faces a sidewalk, I¹d agree. Regularly I observe a short, energetic couple each hanging on to the leash of a Jack
Russell terrier, a very blond woman walking a golden lab, a serious looking man with his two serious appearing German shepherds
and a nondescript old man ambling along with his nondescript old, mixed breed pet.
Recently someone told me they were thinking about getting a collie, and they asked if I thought a collie was
a good dog choice. I guess they had seen me with my bi-black sheltie, Scarlet. A large sheltie often mistaken for a small
collie. Having owned two Lassie-sized collies, Barron, who was bequeathed to our family when the owners had a baby with
asthma and severe allergies, and Barron¹s successor, Joyce, rescued from a bad puppy breeding operation, I answered her
in the affirmative. I told the inquiring person that we loved our collies like we have loved our shelties, rescued Mickey
before the rescued Scarlet, and found them intelligent, loving and loyal family pets. I looked carefully at the woman who
was asking about collies. She had an earnest face and kind eyes. She also had thick and beautiful hair. I knew it would be
a perfect fit.
April 9, 2014
8:16 am cdt | link
It¹s Wednesday. Short day. School starts an hour late. In some communities
school is dismissed at noon giving teachers a half day for in-service learning, for preparing and catching up. Wednesday used
to be flute challenge day in high school band, a fact I recall with slight trepidation. I remember learning to spell Wednesday
at Boyd Elementary School, Miss Thorngate breaking it into sections. Wed-nes-day. And Wednesday¹s child, according
to Mother Goose, is full of woe. Mid-week
Wednesday is also known as hump day, the day that brings the weekend in sight.
You probably know, I just found out, that the days of the week are named after mythical figures and celestial bodies.
Sunday being Sun¹s day, Monday Moon¹s day, Tuesday Tiu¹s day, Wednesday Woden¹s day, Thursday Thor¹s
day, Friday Freya¹s day and Saturday Saturn¹s day. Woden was a chief Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic god and leader of the
But maybe, like me, you didn¹t know this. In social
networking and Instagram the hashtag for Wednesday is this: "Way Back Wednesday." The day you post old pictures
of family, those baby pictures of you and your kids taken years ago.
April 8, 2014
7:39 am cdt | link
Yesterday I rested on a garden bench in the sun doing nothing, really, but
letting my mind wander as I absorbed the welcome warmth. Only a couple of feet from where I sat I watched a chipmunk haul
a sweet potato skin from the compost pile and stuff his cheeks. A wild and pretty sight.
Chipmunks look innocent, and cute, and when I see them I give no thought to what damage their burrowing
might do to garden plants. Instead, I enjoy their busy ways, their perfect coloration. My concern is their protection from
the ginger cat that lives across the street, a cat that too often frequents the garden.
My father, who connected with the wild more than anyone I¹ve ever met, would fill his hands with
peanuts and sit quietly, so quietly, in our backyard until the chipmunks came to eat from his palm or climb into his shirt
So much wild living goes on near us it is important that
we stop, on a sunny day, and appreciate it. The wild living taking place around us is reminder we are wild, too.
April 7, 2014
7:17 am cdt | link
I remember a line from a book, or maybe it was a scene from a movie, where
a grown woman tells someone that her mother died when she was four and she has missed her all her life.
It is an April morning, only thin crusts of dirty snow remain in shadowed places on
the landscape. The trees are not green but they look pregnant. A flock of juncos has been hanging around one of the feeders
for the last couple of days and robins stride across the lawn in robin fashion. The morning sky, which lightens a little earlier
each day, is, today, a color that has no name.
My mother died in
April on a day just like today. I was older than four but too young to lose her. I echo the words of the woman in the book
or film. I have missed her all my life.
April 6, 2014
8:47 am cdt | link
On my book shelf I have a book entitled How to Package Five More Eggs.
It is a Japanese book containing black and white photographs of packaging. Like most all Japanese art forms, the packaging
photographs show techniques that are precise, minimal and beautiful in their simplicity. Techniques that hold meaning and
bring meaning like the techniques behind ikebana flower arranging and the writing of a haiku.
A haiku is traditionally
an observance of an everyday occurrence. In Japan it is often written as a single line but in English we write it on three
lines with words containing five syllables on the first line, seven syllables on the second and five syllables on the third.
In a traditional haiku there is often a kireji, or cutting word, which cuts the stream of thought. There is also a seasonal
reference, which may be just a single word, called a kigo.
very moment I looked out my window...
Earth wanting to warm
unwelcome late snow
A robin listens.
April 5, 2014
9:19 am cdt | link
"Henny Penny, Henny Penny, the sky is falling, the sky is falling,"
cries Chicken Little when an acorn lands on his head. Chicken Little, in the old fable, has come to signify mass hysteria
and paranoia. A mental condition which has been given the name Chicken Little Syndrome.
Earlier this week I was at a gathering of thoughtful people when the talk turned to climate
change. Or, as it is often euphemistically referred to, global warming. There are still those who believe we residents
of Earth have nothing to do with climate change, that scientists predicting more violent storms, increasing temperatures,
rising sea levels, and other dire phenomena because of a changed and disrupted atmosphere, are Chicken Littles. Everyone at
the recent gathering I was at, however, sincerely believed the sky is indeed falling.
The old fable about Chicken Little and Henny Penny and Turkey Lurkey and Loosey Goosey has,
interestingly, two ending. One ending says the anxious birds are taken advantage of and eaten by a fox. The other says they
are courageous and take their story to the king. Maybe our story has a choice of endings too. We will have to decide.
April 4, 2014
7:36 am cdt | link
When I was young I read and enjoyed the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith. A particular picture the writer created of a geranium in a schoolroom window, and the effect this plant had
on the main character, Francie, remains in my mind. In the midst of New York City poverty a simple potted red flower had the
ability to brighten a poor child¹s school day. I have often thought about this scene from the book when I have given
an amaryllis bulb to a grade school teacher as a gift.
The sky is
a Beethoven sky. Dark, ponderous, heavy with snow. Snow on April 4th. So much, too much, has been written about a winter
that has, like a thoughtless guest, arrived too early and stayed too late. We are winter weary. On my hall table I have treated
myself to the equivalent of a red geranium.
Yesterday I purchased
twenty daffodils from the supermarket. They are long-stemmed and I have placed them, willy nilly, because daffodils are the
most difficult flower to arrange, in a pleated plastic vase I purchased years ago in the MoMA gift shop. The vase is the same
yellow as the flowers. The daffodils are doing what flowers have the power to do, what a red geranium did for Francie. They
light up the room.
April 3, 2014
7:22 am cdt | link
Today, around noon when the greenhouse is at its warmest and I can work without
mittens and a jacket, I am going to plant, in trays, annual Sweet William seeds. I have several biannual Sweet William plants
in the garden though never quite enough. I love Sweet William. I have loved Sweet William since we first met.
It was years ago when a new friend, and her new baby, came for lunch. My new friend arrived carrying her infant in one arm
and a bouquet of Sweet William in the other. After first admiring her baby, I admired the red, pink, purple and white flowers
she carried, flowers which I was unfamiliar with. She explained they were Sweet William from the Middletown, Connecticut,
farm garden of her German grandmother.
I have grown Sweet William blooms almost from the time I first became
introduced to them at that long ago lunch. They are hardy, a wonderful cut flower, early spring bloomers, and because they
are in the carnation family, have a clove-like scent. It is almost noon and time for me to head to the greenhouse. As for
that new friend, she became an old friend, a best friend. And the infant in her arms, now a tall and handsome man.
April 2, 2014
7:22 am cdt | link
In my email today was an invitation from a local yoga studio. The studio is
inviting parents, educators, daycare workers to sign up for a class on
teaching yoga to children. Earlier, I had gotten
an email flyer from the
yoga studio listing the benefits of yoga for kids. Somewhat condensed, this
is the list:
Yoga reduces stress and anxiety in children. Yoga increases
balance and body awareness; it helps decrease sports injuries.
place in a safe environment and promotes interaction with peers. Yoga
promotes mindfulness and builds
respect and contentment.
Not long ago I asked my friend, a yoga teacher, if she would visit my after
class and introduce yoga to the students. She graciously agreed to
come. I divided the class into three groups of fifteen;
three times I
watched my friend work magic. She had the students remove their shoes and
sit quietly in a circle.
She spoke softly, never raising her voice. She
helped and complimented the students. Her ways were peaceful and pretty.
smiled often. I watched 45 children, kindergarten to fifth grade, children
whose first language is not English,
children who struggle, for various
reasons, in the classroom, some children thought to be behavior problems,
I watched good things happen.
April 1, 2014
7:58 am cdt | link
Ah, the day of fooling and foolishness. A day celebrated by western societies
since we are unsure when. It is a day that possibly dates back to ancient times and the beginning of spring or the adoption
of a new calendar. Today Pacome may avoid having a drawing of a fish pinned to his back, or he could play offense and pin
a fish to a friend's back. In France, April Fool's Day is called Poisson d'Avil and involves representing fish in
foolishness and trickery.
Several years ago a Boston professor
came up with a theory to explain the origin of April Fool's Day. He said it likely began in Constantine's court by jesters
who wanted to take over running the empire for just a single day. These jesters persuaded Constantine to let one day in the
year be a day of absurdity. They were able to have their idea accepted because jesters were actually seen as wise. They always
put things together, including life, with the addition of humor. This professor's theory was picked up by the press and given
credence. It sounded plausible and came from an authority who knew what he was talking about.
The press, and the people reading the theory, forgot one thing. The professor expounded his theory
on the 1st of April.
Happy April Fool's Day.
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