Bloom Where You’re Transplanted

Bloom Where You’re Transplanted

John Denver gained great popularity with his song “Country Roads” when I was just starting to pay a lot of attention to what got played on the AM stations.  Late in the summer nights, with the window sash raised to allow any stray breeze that might happen by to come through the screen, I would turn the volume really low on my little black plastic transistor radio, turning the dial on the side of the box up and down in search of a tune to help lull me to sleep.

“Country roads . . . . take me home . . . . to the place . . . . I belong . . . .”

Somehow, growing up in the suburbs, I was convinced that I was supposed to live in the country, on a farm.  Six of my cousins (two households, one from each side of my family) did just that, and my weekend and summertime visits in their homes are some of my fondest childhood memories.  “When I grow up,” I would think to myself, “I’m going to live on a farm.  Then I can be happy.”

As it turned out, that wish came true, and I’m still happy to be here, as you’ve maybe read here before.  It’s great to have goals and work toward achieving them, but what if things don’t fall into place within the timeline we’ve set in our heads?

Students tend to think:  “Oh, when I just get done with high school (or college, or finish my Master’s degree, etc.) then I’ll be content.”  But once they’ve done those things, and entered the workforce it’s “well, I just need one more promotion, then I can relax” or, “once I have met that special someone and settled down, then everything will be fine.”  We’re all looking for that Happily Ever After.  But life isn’t a Disney movie or a romance novel, and even with dedication and perseverance, we don’t always attain what we’ve set up as the ultimate goal.

Maybe some of your best work can be done right where you are today, rather than where you see yourself as having reached The Finish Line.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t dream.  Let’s keep the ideal existence as a potential for Someday, but in the meantime, how’s about we just slow down and enjoy the journey?  Sometimes, the view is breathtaking.

Williamson County, Tennessee

Williamson County, Tennessee

Wordless Wednesday #7

Wordless Wednesday #7

(actually, it’s still Tuesday, but give it a couple of hours . . .)

Lilac Time

Lilac Time

My Bradford Pear trees have finished blooming. In town today I saw several Redbuds in full color (it’s actually more of an orchid pink/purple color, but it would sound silly to say Orchid Pink/PurpleBuds, wouldn’t it?).  My apple trees have blossoms all over them, but the wind over these past two days has littered the ground with tiny white petals to the point that I wonder if they’ll get pollinated.  Another of my favorite things, however (see last week’s post for My Favorite Teacher!) is to step out the back door and smell the purple lilacs in bloom.  Ohhhhhh, my!  There’s no other scent in the world quite like it.

I have always wanted a lilac bush.  In spite of the extensive time and effort my folks have put into their very nice lawn, and the wide variety of flowers, shrubs and trees Mother has selected over the almost 59-years they’ve lived at their present location, I don’t recall them ever having a lilac.  Some people tell me they’re hard to get started, and that even after you plant a starter bush, it’s sometimes seven years before it’ll bloom.  I don’t know if this is true . . . somebody leave a comment, please, if you know for sure!  Anyway, you can imagine my delight in April of 1993 when it became apparent we’d purchased a property with not one, but two lilac bushes, one with lavender blossoms and one with white.

The white one is near the driveway, and it spreads by sending up little shoots from the root system in a two-to-three foot area next to the bush.  A honeysuckle vine snuck its way over into the branches and suffocated some of them, so the deadwood had to be pruned out, but it’s still going strong.

The purple-bloomer is on the northeast corner of the house, at the edge of a flowerbed.  A small hosta plant is leafing out under the shade of the shrub now, and later in the season I’ll put out some impatiens.  My hope is to get some starts of the fern and Lily-of-the-Valley from the area on the north side of my parents’ house, and transplant them into this bed next to the lilac.  If memory serves, Mother obtained the starts from her grandma, making them somehow more special than those I could easily get from the store.

My great-grandmother Peirrie Belle May went gradually blind from glaucoma.  But great-grandpa Stanley knew how much she loved her flowers.  The story I was told was that they’d brought starts of all their favorites from the farm when they retired and moved into town, and that during the season, Grandpa Stanley would pick a different flower each day.  He’d take it inside to grandma, take her hand and carefully close her fingers around the stem, then help her raise it to her face to smell.  “OK, Peirrie”, he’d ask, “which one is this?”  She’d inhale the scent and feel the stem, the leaves, the petals, and make her pronouncement.  What a beautiful way for him to help her keep those senses alive.  I’ve always thought it was one of the most tender tales ever.

And when–in my mind’s eye–I picture my great-grandpa coming through their door with a sprig of lilac, something tells me his sweetheart didn’t even need to touch it to decide.  The nose knows!

Springing Forward

Springing Forward

Following one of the coldest winters we’ve seen around here in a long time, Spring seems to have arrived.  I say “seems to”, out of an abundance of caution, maybe because I don’t want to jinx anything.  Also, this is Missouri, and just about anything can happen.  Last year we had snow on May 1, although that is not the norm by any means.  Nevertheless, almost everyone appears hopeful that it’s real, and that Spring has officially sprung.

Jackson & Perkins catalogs arrive in the mail almost weekly now, with hybrid tea roses so luscious-looking that I’m tempted to forget all about past experiences with Black Spot disease and Red Spider Mites, and spend vast quantities of money and time replanting the entire flower bed that surrounds my covered front porch.  My saving grace came last week when–just after the storms blew through–the first daffodil bloom of the season materialized.  And nearby is a super-fragrant pink hyacinth.  Both of them are close to the concrete steps on the south side of the porch, making me wonder if the heat of the sun on the old rough concrete radiated just enough warmth out into that part of the ground to induce those particular bulbs to produce their yearly beauty show first.  Other plants are sending up shoots, too, reminding me that there’s more color to come.  Their blooms don’t last very long into the season, but at least the bulbs keep producing, year after year.

Pink Hyacinth

Providing, of course, that the moles don’t get to them.  As you may recall, my D.G. dog Albert is quite the mole digger (see Archives!) but he’s still no good on backfill.  And replanting the bulbs that get tossed along with the soil if he finds a varmint in the flower bed?  Not a chance!

 

Wordless Wednesday #5

Wordless Wednesday #5

Sunset

Sunset

Finally, after such a long, cold winter, we’ve had a couple of truly nice days!  Yesterday was sunny and warm.  Today it hit 75 degrees.  This evening the clouds were gathering and the wind picked up and there were even a few sprinkles of rain on the windshield of the old Suburban when I came home from a meeting in town.  The forecast says the temp will drop at least 30 degrees before midnight, but at least it’s not predicted to stay there for more than a day or so, then hop back up into the 60s.  Keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer . . . maybe we’re heading into Spring!

In the meantime, I was up at the barn lot last evening with my daughter and her family.  We were all happy to be outside with no coats needed, and the extra hour of daylight after work was almost worth that lost hour of sleep over the weekend. Just before we turned to head toward the house, the view to the west was just spectacular.  If you’ve already seen this on my Facebook page, please forgive the repeat.  No special camera here, just a cell phone version, but God painted the sky enough that the colors came through anyway.

Sunrises and sunsets are some of my favorite views, and often they change so rapidly it’s hard to catch them in a photo.  Hope this one makes you smile.  It sure worked for me!

Picture This!

Picture This!

In 1950, the U S Army drafted my daddy into service.  Of course, he wasn’t my daddy yet then, or anybody else’s either; that came later.  While stationed in Korea, however, at the PX (Post Exchange) he bought a 35mm camera, a Leica.  It had a black metal chassis with an orange peel texture, and a brown leather strap he would hang over his neck to keep it handy for those opportune moments.  The flash attachment looked like a small stainless steel lady’s fan when collapsed, but unfurled into a reflective daisy blossom with a blue glass center once the flashbulb was plugged and twisted into it.  One bulb, one flash.  The bulbs weren’t cheap, so many photos were taken outside or near windows during the daytime, where natural lighting made using the flash unnecessary.

The 35mm film could either be turned into prints or slides.  Once you had the slide, you could always have a print made from it, but not the other way around, so Daddy’s color film was often processed into slides. The little white cardboard frames made them easy to number and  store standing up in a tray-type box with slots, and there was a paper chart that just fit inside the lid of the metal box, on which the subject matter of each corresponding slide was recorded.  It was always a special night when the slide projector came out of the box and the tripod with its telescoping bar was set up and the screen raised and suspended from the top of the bar.  Picture time!  We’d review happy memories of birthdays, vacations, trips downtown to see the riverboats on the Mississippi, visits from family members or other special guests.  We got to enjoy these episodes all over again, by way of the slide shows.

Daddy is 85 now, but not a man to be left behind the times.  Through the wonders of modern technology, a home computer and a program called Photoshop, he’s going through those old slides–many of which have faded to a bluish cast over the years–and reworking the colors on the digitally converted images.  He sent several to me via email.  While it’s not quite the same effect as sitting on the floor with my siblings in a darkened room with the hum of the projector’s cooling fan motor in the background, it still gives me a chance to relive some pretty neat times. I’m thankful for so many things our parents provided us, and for the thought they put into preserving our history in pictures.  Thank you, Daddy, for continuing that effort!

Here’s an example, both before, and after:

J.  with doll (before)     J. and doll (after)