Napatree

In my mind I am often on Napatree. You're welcome to come along.

Archive Newer | Older

August 31, 2015

 

Sunday was beautiful. A perfect day for a picnic on Napatree.

 

Watch Hill was crowded but we were lucky and found a parking place close to the Yacht Club on Bay Street. After picking up two “Mooring” sandwiches from the Bay Street Deli, we took off our shoes and headed to the point. The wind was subdued and after we left the swimming area, we encountered only a handful of walkers. At the tip of the land spit and watching out for poison ivy that can sometimes be found there, we sat on a rock eating our sandwiches and drinking soda which was no longer cold. The air was clean and warm and remembered. On the way back to the village we saw not one but two, piping plovers. Perfect. The day was perfect.

 

5:54 am cdt | link 

August 30, 2015

In the spring I planted, and have been all summer tending, two very large beds of zinnias of different colors and varieties. I planted the zinnias for selling, for shares, for a wedding, for parties and because planting flowers is what I do. Yesterday when I went to check on the yellow, fuchsia, hot pink, red, bright orange, white, lavender, pale pink, greenish blooms which, at the end of August, stand taller than I do,  I was awed by the sight of over fifty monarch butterflies moving among them. I wrongly assumed I had planted the zinnias for myself, for my purposes alone. I was pleased to realize the flowers, more importantly, had been planted for them. 

7:20 am cdt | link 

August 29, 2015

 

Today, five examples why we stand teetering on the edge.

 

Donald Trump is written about, even thought of, as a contender for president.

We are unable to put down our guns.

We have forgotten that we are connected to the life outside our windows.

It is easier for us to speak than to listen.

We don’t take time to dance.

 

Today, five examples why we have stepped back from the edge and can move forward.

 

Cars stop in four directions so a mother pushing a stroller can cross the street.

A jar is stuffed full of dollar bills for a family whose home has been destroyed by a fire.

We plant a garden and bring the excess produce to a food shelf.

We have allowed gay couples to legally marry.

We are thinking, we could learn to dance.

 

7:12 am cdt | link 

August 28, 2015

 

Colorado peaches are delicious. They are as delicious as Connecticut peaches.

 

Yesterday was the last share day of the season. Zinnias, sunflowers, asters, rudbeckia, gomphrena, cosmos and late season daisies.

 

The little duck is almost, but not quite, rising up off the water. She has the rearing up and flapping her wings part, down.

 

Almond milk available at Goodbye Blue Monday. A happy chalk sign on the side walk tells us so.

 

The cross country teams are running and the soccer teams have taken the field.

 

9:30 am cdt | link 

August 27, 2015

 

Last night we had corn on the cob for dinner. Tis, the season.

 

My mother often served corn on the cob in late summer. The job of cleaning it usually fell to me.  When removing the silky hairs that stuck between the rows of kernels, I was careful to pull away everyone so my brother wouldn’t complain. In spite of my care in cleaning, he usually did. My mother served our corn in dishes made specifically to hold ears that had been rolled in butter. We also had, but rarely used, corn holders that stuck into the ends of the cob. My childhood recollection of corn on the cob centers on eating several ears at a sitting and of slathering those ears with butter.

 

Last night we had corn on the cob for dinner. I had a single ear which I ate without butter and it didn’t taste that good.

 

6:29 am cdt | link 

August 26, 2015

Just like that the great blue heron glides majestically into my view from another age. As we have had heavy rains the pond is deep and the big bird moves slowly among the grasses through water that is up to the tops of his long legs. The sun is right and bright and in it the big bird becomes a marble sculpture that studies the depths, his head cocked like a robin, looking, listening for his dinner of an unsuspecting fish or frog. Nearby six mallards circle idly on smooth water unfazed by his more important presence.

7:08 am cdt | link 

August 25, 2015

 

Recently I was with friends from high school. Friends who live great distances apart, friends whose lives and circumstances are different from one another.  For hours we shared memories and told our stories. Some of us do not own a condo in Florida or a cabin on Lake Superior, but every one of us, owned a story.

 

Yesterday I was in the parking lot of Kowalski’s Market in St. Paul when I saw a handsome, gray-haired woman carrying a bountiful, ribbon-tied fruit basket to her car. This woman walked with intention, a pleased expression on her face, her arms circling the ample basket of fruit. I watched her and knew, I was looking at a story.

 

 

   

6:52 am cdt | link 

August 24, 2015

 

In spite of years of ballet and tap dancing lessons, teenaged dance crazes worked on in someone’s basement and high school Friday nights spent at Fournier’s Ballroom, I am no better dancer than I am singer. But I love dancing and I love to watch people dance. Dancing is good and celebratory and fun and great exercise. Dancing is primitive. It can be done for a reason or for no reason at all. It can be done just because we want to do it.

 

There is always music playing somewhere. The sign on the Grand Theater marque announcing a weekend wedding nudges us and reminds us of that with these words. “And now, it’s time to dance.”

 

7:25 am cdt | link 

August 23, 2015

 

I am doing the Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle. The clue for 23 across is, “There are sixty in a minute.” But there are five letter spaces to fill so the word cannot be seconds or secs. The answer turns out to be ticks.

 

Seconds or ticks or hours or years. Emily Dickinson had the right answer, the only answer. “Time is composed of now.”

 

7:00 am cdt | link 

August 22, 2015

 

Yesterday when driving with my friend, we talked about singing. Something I am poor at and something I don’t do. In the course of our conversation I told her about the most beautiful singing I have ever heard and probably will ever hear.  The story is this.

 

When my nephew’s young wife died from kidney failure, a Broadway actress, the mother of a toddler and a young woman I felt close to and loved, my nephew, who was starring in the musical "Titanic" on Broadway at the time, asked my husband and I to arrange a memorial service for her in the small Connecticut town where the Goodspeed Opera house is located. A town where they had both performed, where they had met. This we did.

 

The site of the service was a small Congregational Church. A beautiful old church in a beautiful rural setting. A large crowd wasn’t expected, family was scattered and the service miles from their home. But cars started to arrive with New York license plates and out of the cars came Broadway performers and the cast of the musical my nephew was currently starring in. When the hymnals were opened the singing began. Unrehearsed singing but singing done in parts by professional voices. Young men and women singing from their hearts and singing to hold my nephew up. It seemed that the walls of the church trembled with the strength and beauty of that singing, singing I will never forget. Singing that caused the congregation and the minister performing the service, to weep.

 

 

7:01 am cdt | link 

August 21, 2015

 

We are at a restaurant in Wisconsin. This day, ten of us. We meet annually because we share a time, a culture and a mental geography. And, we know each other well; we remember each other’s parents and childhood home.

 

After our meeting at the restaurant we will move apart and back into our regular and distant lives. But not before we have spread our stories, like cards from a deck, on the table. Stories of sadness, joy, pleasure and worry. Stories that are uniquely ours yet are shared by everyone. We are not related but we are forever connected. We call each other friend.  

 

7:17 am cdt | link 

August 20, 2015

 

A friend just dropped off a book of haikus that she recently completed. A gem of a book illustrated with photographs taken by her son. Her gift has inspired.

             

                        Wind blows from the west

                    angering pond’s smooth surface.

                                It’s a haiku day.

 

6:03 am cdt | link 

August 19, 2015

 

Though I’ve always lived with dogs, I can’t remember being bitten by one. Puppy bites for sure, nips from those sharp little milk teeth because a puppy always seems to be chewing something, but never a dog bite of the serious kind.

 

In the neighborhood a college student was recently bitten by a dog on a retractable leash. An email has been issued to the neighborhood looking for the owner of the dog, an owner who told the student, at the time he was bitten, that the dog had had the necessary vaccinations. But proof of those necessary vaccinations is now needed. Unless the owner can be located and a veterinarian can produce a vaccination record, it has been recommended that the student receive a series of shots to prevent rabies. A painful course of treatment.

 

Social media has become part of this story. Hopefully between emails and Facebook, the owner of the dog will be found and provide proof that the dog was vaccinated. Which, in turn, will provide a happy ending to this story.

 

6:51 am cdt | link 

August 18, 2015

There are a number of small dogs in this neighborhood. White fluffies, nondescripts, stretched out varieties with mini legs and dandy little creatures who in the winter, don red plaid coats. Today I saw a small dog soon to turn into a large dog. I saw an Irish setter puppy being walked with an adult Irish setter. The puppy was about three months old, a happy, cavorting, filled with puppy pleasure three-month-old. I didn’t but I wanted to. I wanted to stop the car, get out and pet the puppy, play with the puppy. I wanted an Irish setter puppy fix. 

8:24 am cdt | link 

August 17, 2015

 

It’s the mosquito time of year. This season, though, mosquitos have not been so bad. Because I am in the garden early in the morning and late in the day when they are active, I am no stranger to mosquitos and mosquito bites. I have two memories of nasty, non-garden mosquito experiences. One happened when we were camping as a young family, the children three and four, in Canada. A remote and wooded camp site, hot, humid weather, a small lake and a tent that allowed mosquito entry through tent zippers, equated to a night spent as a family, sleeping, not sleeping, in the car. The other memory is of canoeing on the Yellow River when we ran into swarms of mosquitos so dense you could not help but inhale them. And in a canoe on deep water you could not swat, move around to cover yourself or turn back. Any exposed skin was covered with bites.

 

Everything in nature has a role, a reason, a right. Mosquitos might exist to remind us that we are not as high up on the food chain as we think.

 

6:45 am cdt | link 

August 16, 2015

I’m driving to Lake City. I used to regularly, drive to Lakeville. Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. No amber waves here, only green waves. Corn and soybeans in all directions. Soybeans and corn, in all directions. Only weeks ago the soybeans were tiny plants, the now towering corn, the tiniest of shoots. Before that, the landscape was newly plowed earth and before that, pretty much nothing. Acres and acres and acres of, for most of the year, nothing. A habitat of no one, of nothing. A friend asks, as we drive along, isn’t it beautiful? I am wearing different glasses. Where she sees the familiar as beautiful, I see not beauty at all but an overly managed landscape. A fertilized desert treated with herbicides and pesticides where nothing, except corn and soybeans, exists. A green, Minnesota desert.

7:26 am cdt | link 

August 15, 2015

 

Growing up, the sales that took place in a neighborhood garage or driveway were called yard sales or garage sales. My sister-in-law referred to such events as rummage sales. Churches have white elephant sales and the sales that take place in the boonies and have many vendors, are referred to as flea markets. In Connecticut a yard sale is a tag sale and a sale of maybe a slightly higher quality is often called a moving sale or an estate sale. In the United Kingdom a tag sale, or a garage sale, is called a car boot sale, trunk fair or jumble sale. This morning I saw a sign advertising a sale being held in a neighborhood garage that was new to me. “Today only, Variety Sale."

 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

 

6:19 am cdt | link 

August 14, 2015

It is hot with high humidity. I high step through the tall weedy grasses of the field garden, rows of flowers between strings of apple trees, sweat dripping from under my hat and into my eyes making them sting.  I go from row to row gathering statice and straw flowers into one container, cutting lisianthus and asters to put into another. Everywhere  are bees and grasshoppers in abundance and even moving slowly, the heat feels oppressive. Then I see it. A single apple, pinkish, on one of the very young trees. And just like that I see, coming over the hill, the state fair, a harvest moon and children on the playground. 

6:41 am cdt | link 

August 13, 2015

I just cut a dozen plus gladiolus. Creamy white, a bright yellow and a deep violet. With two blossoms open on each flower stalk, they were ready to be cut. Gladiolus are not my favorite flower. They are difficult to use in arrangements and although the single blooms are as stunning as orchids, they fade quickly so the bottom blooms must be continually removed. They are also stiff and awkward. In a garden, it is hard to find a place where they belong. Flowers have reputations. Gladiolus, regulars to funeral arrangements and often planted without a background of support, haven’t had the greatest press. But these gladiolus are stunning. In their abundance, I will make them work. 

6:58 am cdt | link 

August 12, 2015

Yesterday my daughter and I worked on an involved cooking project in her kitchen. Using produce from her garden, we set aside the day for preparing it which is pretty much what we did. For the most part I enjoy cooking and a special cooking project like the one we undertook, can hold my attention. I am not ready for the Chopped Kitchen or the Pillsbury Bake-Off but I consider myself an okay cook. At one point as we labored together over the stove, I asked her what she remembered from childhood of my cooking. I was hoping she would mention the baked, stuffed with dried fruit, pork chops, the lasagna which took hours to prepare, the Swiss steak in onion gravy, the California pot roast and the rosemary potatoes.  To my chagrin, this was her reply. “Mother, I remember a whole lot of Hamburger Helper."  

6:15 am cdt | link 

August 11, 2015

 

In the mail today a book from a friend. About the book she writes, “I know you will like it.” It can be hard to know this, to know what another reader might like. I am pretty certain I have recommended books to friends and they have not cared for them at all. I have had books recommended to me that I was unable to finish. I belong to a reading group that meets once a month and sometimes I like the selection, sometimes not.  There is, though, a beauty to reading a book group requirement, to brushing up against unfamiliar reading territory.

 

I trust the reading judgement of my cousin, her mother before her. I trust the reading judgement of a handful of friends, the friend who sent me the book. I take to heart the words of Margaret Atwood. “A word after a word after a word is power.”

 

6:42 am cdt | link 

August 10, 2015

 

One anticipates hearing frogs when winter has melted away and spring peepers are in high chorus signaling the change of seasons. But frogs call throughout the summer and here by the pond, you can hear them croak on a humid August night beneath dense grasses and flashing fireflies. When I hear them, I also hear deep-voiced Burl Ives singing, “Frog went a courtin’ and he did ride uh-huh."

 

Missie Mousie, come out of hiding.

 

7:27 am cdt | link 

August 9, 2015

My friend Betsy gave me two small notebooks for my birthday. A reading notebook and a writing notebook. Inside the writing notebook, published by Good Nature Publishing, are these words by Anais Nin: “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. And these words by R.K. Narayan: ‘You become a writer by writing. It is a yoga."

So I write. 

6:48 am cdt | link 

August 8, 2015

 

The teens, the in-between age. Sometimes we expect too much of teenagers, other times, not enough. Teenagers continually surprise me. Their maturity can be amazing, or, it can seem not to exist at all. In nature I am observing a teenager.

 

Daily I focus on the mallard ducks. On the pond paddling or just being motionless, I observe a male, female and a single young mallard too young to have adult coloration which would determine its sex.  The three ducks have been swimming idly together, bobbing for food, preening or moving in a particular direction with intent. Lately, the young duck has been swimming away from the adults like it has a mind of its own. Yesterday, two male mallards joined the flotilla and today, two more.  There was much duck social behavior going on when the sixth and seventh ducks arrived, behavior which was fun to watch. At some point the female turned and swam in another direction, disappearing into the tall grass. The five drakes, lifted up and off. The young duck paddled fiercely in the direction of the airborne ducks, almost the length of the pond, creating a wake. Not being able to lift up from the water, it turned around and paddled back. There was an attitude in its swimming. A shrug of the shoulders. A pout. 

 

7:30 am cdt | link 

August 7, 2015

 

From my window I can look across the narrow part of the pond and see three young girls cavorting on the grassy strip of land behind a house. They spin and twirl. They circle holding hands for a moment, before breaking apart. Full of energy, and as if to music only they can hear, they dance.

 

It’s okay.

No one’s watching.

You can dance.

 

7:14 am cdt | link 

August 6, 2015

I have been watching with interest the building of Northfield’s Skate Park which is scheduled to open soon. Yesterday Scarlet and I walked around the property surrounding the park noticing new landscaping, buffer hills and a water drainage area where wetland weeds already flourish. The park was controversial, for many, a NIMBY, a not-in-my-backyard, grievance. But it is beautiful and makes one wish they owned a skateboard. And were again, fifteen.

6:21 am cdt | link 

August 5, 2015

I am sorry about the closing of walleye fishing on Lake Mille Lacs. Fishing, and the tourist industry surrounding it, is the livelihood of many. Not wishing to say I told you so because I know nothing about this lake and its problems, I can however express my feelings that we, for the most part, take not-such-good-care, of our Minnesota lakes. We are pretty good at tipping, in our favor, the balance of nature. Yesterday’s Star Tribune noted the closing of walleye season on the front page of the paper. Deep in the paper, on the front page of the "Business" section, was the story of President Obama’s warnings about climate change and his plans to limit coal production. Sometimes it is hard for us not to put the cart before the horse.

6:11 am cdt | link 

August 4, 2015

Who, visits in the night? Who, is responsible for eating  zinnias, nibbling morning glories,  tipping over a bird feeder? Jake places a camera, activated by motion, on the patio. Viewing it the next day we learn who visits in the night. Shortly after 1:00 a.m. a raccoon makes an appearance. Then, another raccoon appears accompanied by a baby.  Close to 3:00, a possum enters the camera’s view and toward dawn, a rabbit. Around 6:00 the female mallard appears followed by a single mourning dove. The quiet night is not so quiet

.

6:31 am cdt | link 

August 3, 2015

We are traveling and this sign, in front of a tourist-type complex, lists the amenities that travelers will find if they stop: CAFÉ, BOOKS, RESTROOMS, ICE CREAM, TOYS, CAROUSEL, SHOP, MINI GOLF, CHEESE and FUDGE. Could we really ask for more?

5:45 am cdt | link 

August 2, 2015

Yesterday was a day spent with my cousin’s daughter who I think would be my second cousin once removed, her husband, and their two, young children.  We had not been together since the funeral of my cousin’s husband years ago, and as our visitors live on the West Coast, we see them very seldomly. But there we were laughing, loving the antics of the kids, sitting in the sun, drinking lemonade, watching pond wildlife, admiring Lego constructions and not acknowledging the physical distance between us. Yesterday, we were with members of the most functional of groups, the most dysfunctional of groups, with members of the weakest of groups and the strongest of groups, with members of the most imperfect of groups and the most perfect of groups. Yesterday, we were so happy to be with our family. 

6:52 am cdt | link 

August 1, 2015

 

Zucchini is probably no one’s favorite vegetable. Last night at dinner it was served lightly sautéed in olive oil and dusted with parmesan cheese. It was good. I also do a baked zucchini dish with onions, potatoes and two cheeses. That’s good, too. There is also zucchini bread, zucchini relish and probably zucchini anything at all. Zucchini manages to fit in.

 

Zucchini is the vegetable for novice gardeners. It easily takes off and can become huge overnight. In the village of South Glastonbury where we lived before coming here, it was common knowledge if you left your car unlocked in late summer when you went into the post office or bank, something that everyone did, you would find some gardener’s excess zucchini crop on your front seat. From personal experience, I know those words are true.

 

7:01 am cdt | link 


Archive Newer | Older
To view the archives, click on the links above to view by month.

Toni Easterson.com | Toni Easterson on Facebook | Napatree on Etsy