July 28, 2015

Behold I show you a great mystery...

Baby robin found my "secret" birdbath!
So I had this little mystery going on right under my nose!  Earlier this summer, nestled in amongst the honeysuckle and the cone-flowers was a little plant I didn't recognize.  Since I've been known on more than one occasion to plant a perennial and then promptly forget about it, I thought it best to leave the poor thing alone and see what it became.

But I didn't expect that, like Jack's miraculous beanstalk, it would grow...and grow...and then grow some more!  I tried to identify it online, but couldn't find anything that looked quite right.  I felt a little silly, because the more it grew, the more I was sure I was watering and giving shelter to some particularly vigorous weed!  I sent this photo to my mother, who wondered if it was some sort of rhubarb plant.  No...that didn't seem quite right.

Then a colleague of mine mentioned a plant in her garden that she was worried about...evidently it was quite large and rather nasty.  And by nasty I mean dangerous--evidently touching it and then rubbing your eyes could lead to permanent blindness!  What??!!  So of course I "googled" some more and discovered that perhaps it was the plant featured in the book I was currently reading!  Don't you love it when things like that happen?

But was my plant a giant hogweed?  I'd never heard of one before, outside of the English frolics of Professor Shandy et al (see the book above) and while Google insisted it existed in Wisconsin, my county wasn't listed.  Google also assured me that claims of blindness were correct, so I decided to not touch it until a definitive identification was reached.

Then on our last trip to Door County, during a hike I came upon this plant, which the ranger I identified as cow parsnip.  Hmmm, it looked a close cousin!  Maybe this was my plant?  The blooms were pretty, but evidently it still can cause skin irritation so I continued to give my monster plant a wide berth at home. 

And then this happened...

Followed in short order over the course of last week...

I am filled with chagrin.  I lived in Kansas for seven years during college and my first teaching job, and somehow failed to recognize...

a sunflower???  Take that, Curse of the Giant Hogweed!  Hello, Mr. Sunshine!  And special thanks to the little bird that kindly shared a seed in my garden...may you multiply and bring me all sorts of sunshine in my garden! 


No pitying/“Ah” for this one
—Alan Shapiro
No, nor a fierce hurrah
for what it does without choice,
for following the light
for the same reason the light follows it.

Just a thing rough to the touch, a face
like a thousand ticks turning their backs,
suckling at something you can’t see,
and a body like a tag off the earth

so that my child hands couldn’t tear it out
from the overgrown lot next door.
             My palms raw with the shock
of quills and spines. Its hold like spite, and ugly

except when seen from a distance—
a whole field of them by the highway,
an 80-mile-per-hour view
                           like a camera’s flash.
All of them like halos
without saints to weigh them down.

May your day be filled with sunshine, and a small mystery or two to keep life interesting!

July 24, 2015

Thirty one years ago today I was blessed with the birth of my first son.  I didn't know love could go so deep or be so vast, or so many years later still be so strong and pure.  We named him Michael, from the Hebrew meaning "who is like God".  A good, strong name for a little boy who has become a good, strong man. 

Growing up I had siblings  who I loved a lot, plus lots of young cousins. I babysat in high school, earned a teaching degree, taught Sunday School and in general, pretty much loved kids.  But nothing prepared me for the love that washed over me when I held my firstborn in my arms and realized we were linked at the heart, forever.  I was astonished at the depth and breadth and take-your-breath-away feelings that I had never known existed before.  In short, I became a mother.

 Close your eyes 
 Have no fear 
The monster's gone
  He's on the run and your mommy's here
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful 
Beautiful boy 
 Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful 
 Beautiful boy
Before you go to sleep
  Say a little prayer
  Every day in every way
  It's getting better and better
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful 
 Beautiful boy
  Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful 
 Beautiful boy
Out on the ocean sailing away 
 I can hardly wait to see you come of age
  But I guess, we'll both just have to be patient 
'Cause it's a long way to go, a hard row to hoe 
 Yes, it's a long way to go but in the meantime 
Before you cross the street 
Take my hand 
 Life is what happens to you
  While you're busy making other plans
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful 
 Beautiful boy
  Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful 
 Beautiful boy
And thirty years ago today, another mother was holding her beautiful little girl in her arms, calling her Gena, which derives from the Italian name for Queen. How appropriate.  For she grew up to become the queen of my son's heart.

 They said you have me wrapped around your finger
Like the ribbons that you wear in your hair
Maybe 'cause when i see your little fingers holdin' onto mine
I don't have a care
You've got me buyin' you bows and dresses
Oh, what a beautiful mess that this is

I think I'm in love
She's two foot three
Eyes blue and green
I just can't get enough
She got my heels over my head
Or better yet, she got me movin' to the beat of her drum
And if love were time, i would spend all mine
Just livin' inside her world
'cause she's daddy's baby girl

Soon she'll crawl, then walk, then talk, she's here for a while
Then sweet sixteen, and like a dream, she's down the aisle

And the little girl grew into a beautiful princess:

The two beloved children went off to school:

And grew into beautiful, intelligent young adults, ready to head off to college:

Where they met and became super-heroes:

They discovered they shared the same birthday as well as the same major, and more importantly,   the same family values and love of God and family.  And over time they grew to realize they shared something else....a beautiful love for each other.

 And so they decided to begin a fairy tale of their own.

And now the special world of love that they have created has grown to include their darling daughter, who has stolen their hearts (and their hats) in the same way that they stole ours years ago...

So on this special day I wish my wonderful son and his beautiful wife all the very best that life has to offer.  You are loved more than you can possibly imagine, and we are so very proud of both of you.
  Happy, happy birthday!

July 23, 2015

would you care to sit with me?

I may have yearned for George as a teenager (I always went for the quiet, misunderstood band members) but over the years I've developed a deep affection for many of Paul McCartney's lyrics. Here's a favorite song of mine from his album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.  The album title seems to fit my garden as well! 

Would you care to sit with me
For a cup of English tea?

Very twee, very me
 Any sunny morning

What a pleasure it would be
Chatting so delightfully

Nanny bakes fairy cakes
Every Sunday morning

Miles of miles of English garden
Stretching past the willow tree

Lines of hollyhocks and roses
Listen most attentively

Do you know the game croquet?
Peradventure we might play

Very gay, hip hooray
Any sunny morning

As a rule the church bells chime
When it's almost supper time  

Nanny bakes fairy cakes
On a Sunday morning

Would you care to sit with me
and have a cup of English tea??

I know I've shared these lyrics before, but just like a wonderful poem deserves more than one reading, good song lyrics should be re-visited and enjoyed often.  Aren't we lucky to be able to include poetry---music---gardens---in our lives each and every day?  The lovely pink teacup and saucer on the gazing ball?  It was my great grandmother's...one more thing I treasure every day! 

July 21, 2015

all the hours we leave behind...

I love my new gazing ball in my garden!  I had wanted one for quite some time, and lo and behold, as we were cleaning out our building at work for all the summer remodeling, someone found a few boxes of gazing balls that were used as donor gifts years ago.  I was delighted to make a home for this one, nestled in among my coneflowers.  I love how it captures the clouds as they drift by.  Sometimes I wonder, if I gaze at it long enough...will memories of summers past drift by as well? 

Perhaps not, but this lovely poem, The Ordinary, by Kirsten Dierking, does a nice job of summoning special memories of summers past...

It's summer, so
I miss visiting Custer State Park with my family...
the pink gingham shorts,
the red mower, the neat rows
of clean smelling grass
unspooling behind
the sweeping blades.

a glimpse of my garden through the deck railing...
A dragonfly, black body
big as a finger, will not leave
the mower alone,
loving the sparkle
of scarlet metal,
seeing in even a rusting paint
the shade of a flower.
I miss my aunt's amazing cutting garden in Indiana...
But I wave him off,
conscious he is
wasting his time,
conscious I am
filling my time
with such small details,
distracting colors,

and I miss my aunts even more (Aunt Mary, Aunt Freda and Aunt Nellie with my mother @ 1965.  I am so blessed to still have Mother and Aunt Freda in my life.)
like pink checks,
like this, then that,
like a dragonfly wing
in the sun reflecting
the color of opals,
like all the hours
we leave behind,
so ordinary,
but not unloved.

My wish for all of us is that today be filled with those ordinary, yet special, moments that bring so much pleasure into our lives...

July 20, 2015

“Instead of going to heaven at last,
I’m going all along.” Emily Dickinson

There's an exuberance to summer that I find exhilarating.  There is a heightened intensity to everything---the garden joyfully moves from whispering "have patience, I'm growing..." to shouting gleefully "look at me! look at me!"

Modesty gives way to boastful coneflowers taking center stage in my garden, growing by leaps and bounds, the cheerful yellow coreopsis tries to rival the sun, and my daylilies are joyfully reminding us all why we love summer so much.

What's not to love about a beautiful weekend morning, sitting on the deck with a cold glass of iced tea, droplets of condensation running down the glass and plopping onto my bare legs, while a mother cardinal pecks at seeds in my purple salvia and a robin cools off in the now "secret" birdbath?

I hope all of you had a chance to dance in the sunshine, sip a cool drink in the shade and rejoice in a world of beauty this past weekend.  I recently came across this poem by Michael Escoubas, which shows that this poet enjoys his garden as much as I do mine.

Towel and Basin
This morning I plodded in pajamas
and bare toes toting my full water pitcher,
prepared as an offering for my
hanging blue Fan plant. The tall
grass washed my feet as Jesus might.

I was met by a congregation
of glad-handed Hostas greeting
and touching me, choirs of Clematis
robed in purple, jovial Jonquils clad in yellow,
sun-facing Spiderworts, and sweet green Mint
mingled with spicy Oregano, breathing
their fragrances, glistening and glowing
in sunlight and dew.

They danced when they saw me;
asked no questions, made no judgments,
anointed me with dew, toweled my dusty
feet with warm sun, then sent me on
to do for another what they had done for me.

May you have a lovely start to your week!