September 29, 2016

Every so often you have one of those extra special summer days, where every minute is filled with fun and beautiful memories are stored up, to be brought back out and savored during the long winter. We had one of those days in August, when we visited Madison County, Iowa,  and its wonderful covered bridges.  Here are a few pictures from our exploration day, with a poem by Arthur Franklin Mapes, one of Indiana's poet laureates. 

“The Covered Bridge”

I came upon a covered bridge
Weather-beaten and old,
Where deep blue stream and wooded ridge
Were framed in twilight gold.

It was wonderful to see
A scene so old and quaint,
A rustic masterpiece
That only God could paint.

Could I, a humble poet,
Pass through the bridge of time;
And learn its treasured secrets,
Then put them into rhyme?

Could I, with words, portray
The sky, the stream, the ridge?
Would I, with words, betray
The secrets of the bridge?

The colors slowly faded
As the shadows crossed the stream;
Then, at last, the velvet darkness
Changed it all into a dream.

But God gave me a picture
To keep within my heart,
With all its rustic splendor,
A priceless work of art.

Yes, God gave me a picture
That can’t be bought or sold,
A picture of a covered bridge
Framed in twilight gold.

Don't you love how summer memories can be enjoyed all year round?
Let's make today a special day of memories, too, by taking a few moments to take in all the beauty around us and store it in our hearts.  And please remember...

Today is a good day for a good day!

September 26, 2016

the lingering petals of fragrance

I spent some time in my garden over the weekend, battling with the rampant honeysuckle that is confidently defeating all my efforts to contain its growth and transplant it to containers.  I love the lushness of this hardy vine and the fragrance of the small yellow blooms that waft through my bedroom window, but it has taken over the back of my garden with abandon.  Perhaps it is a metaphor - embrace where you are planted and live with exuberance? 

I worked in the garden, which sounds much more refined than saying I wrestled weeds, even though that is far closer to the reality, right after a heavy rainstorm and the few remaining blossoms sparkled in the sunshine that followed the storm.  Another metaphor?  My garden seemed to burst forth yesterday with poetical meanings and suggestions, and of course I delighted in thinking about poems that might pair nicely with the remaining floral survivors. 

Not at all like me --
How with each passing day
while the autumn sun
wanes, the blossoms wax stronger
on the morning glories.

~~an uto, from the Japanese poet Shotetsu (1381-1459)

With the deck canopy extended, I was able to enjoy the rainstorm from the glider, glad to still be outside in nature.  Another poem in the uto form, this one from Sinkei (1406-1475) came to mind as I sat watching the rain drops splatter onto the deck and drench the yard and garden.  I guess the nature of man and the turmoil he creates never changes...

Rainclouds gather,
but with more calm than the storms 
raging in the world.

A couple hours of peace and contentment in amidst the last lingering summer blooms, who have yet to succumb to autumn's rich decay.  Thank you, flowers, for offering up one final farewell!

I knew right away I would want to share Mary Oliver's The Cricket and the Rose with you today - how lucky we are to have both flowers and poetry in this lovely and complicated world of ours!  The lingering petals of fragrance and the timeless body of prayer...

In fall
the cricket
beneath the rose bush
as the roses fall
to the very ground
that is his kingdom also.

So they're neighbors,
one full of fragrance,
the other
the harper
of a single dry song.

We call this time of the year
the beginning of the end
of another circle,
a convenience
and nothing more.

For the cricket's song
is surely a prayer,
and a prayer, when it is given,
is given forever.

This is a truth
I'm sure of,
for I'm older than I used to be,
and therefore I understand things
nobody would think of
who's young and in a hurry.

The snow is very beautiful.
Under it are the lingering
petals of fragrance,
and the timeless body
of prayer.
My prayer for today is that we take time to discover the beauty in the simple moments of our day, the fragrance and the prayers that surround us all.

September 20, 2016

...all the wonderful things

How do I start a post after two solid months off?  Perhaps something along the lines of "How I Spent My Summer Vacation"?  I never intended to go so long without a blog post, but sometimes life just happens and all you can do is buckle up and go along for the ride. In early July I had been receiving strange auto-upgrade notifications on my computer about Windows 10.  I wasn't interested in the free upgrade, so continued to hit the "no thanks" button at the bottom of the screen.  And then one morning, out of the blue, I opened my computer and discovered that it had ON ITS OWN decided to make the upgrade anyway.  That slightly freaked me out - not sure I want my computer exercising independent thought - but that was quickly followed by irritation when I discovered that nothing, and I do mean nothing, was now working correctly.  In short, it fried my computer.  I am now the proud owner of a new laptop, because in the end it made more sense to upgrade than repair an older computer.  I'm now having to get used to the Windows 10 format, but so far everything is working splendidly and I am now ready to write some fall blogs.

But before I launch into fall reveries (I know I've mentioned once or twice that it is my favorite season) I should probably catch up on all the comings and goings of the summer.  How did I spend my summer "vacation"?  Doing all sorts of fun things on the weekends, sandwiched with a rather hectic time at work.  My assistant moved to a different position within our organization, and replacing her as taken far longer than I had hoped.  As a result I've been trying to handle two crazy-busy work loads for the last two months, so even if I had had a working computer I'm not sure how much creative energy I would have had in July and August anyway.

A few highlights:  watching our new granddaughter, Madison, grow and start revealing her personality to us.  Oh my, I know I say it often, but being a grandmother really is the best thing since sliced bread. 

I've loved spending time with both the girls this summer, watching Lily blossom into the sweetest two year old I've ever met.  

There is nothing sweeter than a having a grandchild curled up on your lap while you read Goodnight Moon to her...once, then twice, and then a third time.  And each time we count the bears...there's Grandpa Bear, there's Grandma Bear and there's Lily Bear. And, of course, we must eat from the bowl of mush that makes it way onto each and every page.  Yum, yum, yum!

Image result for three bears from goodnight moon

I have so many stories and pictures and new poets and poems that I can't wait to share with you, but before my eagerness runs away with itself (like the dish and the spoon in Good Night Moon?) perhaps I should first listen to Mary Oliver and learn a little more about patience...


What is the good life now?  Why,
look here, consider
the moon's white crescent

rounding, slowly, over
the half month to still another
perfect circle ---

the shining eye
that lightens the hills,
that lays down the shadows

of the branches of the trees,
that summons the flowers
to open their sleepy faces and look up

into the heavens.
I used to hurry everywhere,
and leaped over the running creeks.

There wasn't 
time enough for all the wonderful things
I could think of to do 

in a single day.  Patience
comes to the bones
before it takes root in the heart

as another good idea.
I say this
as I stand in the woods
and study the patterns of the moon shadows,
or stroll down into the waters

that now, late summer, have also 
caught the fever, and hardly move
from one eternity to another.

Oliver asks us each of us -  what is the good life?  My answer today would be that it is having friends like you.  A heartfelt thank you to each reader who reached out and let me know my posts were missed!  I'm so happy to be "back in business" and I'm looking forward to sharing more adventures in this crazy ride we call life.