I have a special place in my heart for volunteers. They see a void and they fill it without being compensated.
It’s the same with the volunteer plants in my yard. I have volunteer bleeding hearts in the cracks of the driveway and volunteer petunias popping up where their parents bloomed last year. And then this.
At first I thought it was a cucumber. But the leaves expanded and the Vine got longer. So I thought maybe a cantaloupe. But the vine kept growing.
I now believe I may be growing a pumpkin vine in the middle of my herb and perennial garden. A seed, long forgotten by a well-intentioned squirrel, has volunteered its services just off my front door stoop. And I, having witnessed the conviction of the plant, am now guiding it carefully away from foot traffic and thyme, and dousing it with water in the summer heat.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned working at a non-profit, it’s that you need to take care of your volunteers.
Peace . . .
The Creeping Charlie is at it again. It’s more of a march than a creep, to be honest. I pulled out a whole yard waste bin of it, uncovering, to my surprise, the milkweed I planted last year.
This afternoon I took a bicycle ride around town, and was delighted by how many gardeners have included this vital Monarch Butterfly treat in their yards.
As I pedal, I like to wave or nod to neighbors working on cars, mowing lawns, or having a glass of ice tea on the front step. It’s an old-fashioned gesture reciprocated more often by older folk than young, who double-take, smile and quickly glance away. I like to think it’ll catch on.
Maybe I’ll just always be that crazy waving neighbor lady. I’m okay with that, too.
Peace . . .
It was a rocky start. The baby crowned and then receded, not once but twice. I remember the discomfort as the doctor reached in to relieve her shoulder from the constraint of the umbilical cord. And then she was born.
She was healthy except for a few bruises on her face from her dramatic entrance to the world. There were people pressing on my abdomen and novocain shots in the most excruciating place, and stitching. And the mother thing didn’t kick in right away.
Then the nurses came in and out and the family swarmed and gave her the first bath and the first diaper change and the first swaddling. They put her to my breast and they watched to make sure it all worked the way it was supposed to. The doctor came and left.
When they told me it was time to go home, I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know why. I just needed another day or week or month.
Once the home care instructions were given, my bags packed, the papers signed, like a magic spell everyone disappeared. Nurses went off to dote on other patients. Family left for home. Her dad went to get the car and we were alone, she and me.
I turned her to face me on my lap. I looked in her puffy dark blue eyes and I asked her if she was ready to come home. I told her about the alphabet border I painted around the top of her bedroom wall; about the clothes and crib we had readied for her arrival. I explained that we had never done this before, and that I understood it was all new to her too. I promised that I would always be the best mom I could, and that sometimes it might not be good enough, but that I would always love her with all of my heart.
Suddenly and without warning I was ready to go home. Though she’ll never remember it, she gave to me the greatest gift of motherhood, and I’m ever grateful she saved it for just the two of us . . .
she and me.
“Earth knows no desolation. She smells regeneration in the moist breath of decay.”
– George Meredith, 1828-1909, English novelist and poet
Is there any better metaphor for faith than spring? Whether your faith rests in God, Nature, Love or Self. The proof that life emerges after strife — indeed, because of it — is ever present in the warmth of spring.
Peace . . .
It’s that time of year when we dream of new life. Tulips breaking the ground, their faces to the sun. Seeds bursting open with tender roots and delicate shoots. Tiny blades of grass finding their way through last year’s thatch.
Ah, the lawn.
That bane of man’s existence. That symbol of status or flag of defeat.
This picture undoubtedly elicits one of two reactions in you:
- “Look at the pretty little purple flowers!”
- “Sweet Mother of God! That’s Creeping Charlie!”
If you are in the first group, bless your little heart. Although pervasive, they are pretty.
If you are in the second group, I’m guessing you’re stocking up on herbicides as we speak. I’ve stopped buying herbicides and fertilizers. I buy compost and grass seed. I rarely water. I’m gradually planting the yard with flowers and shrubs that need little care, and adding raised gardens. Fresh vegetables eaten right out of the garden? Now there’s a symbol of status for you. Ideally, I’d like to have just enough grass to sink my toes into while I sip a glass of wine.
As for Creeping Charlie and dandelions, those reliable messengers of spring, they’ll feed the bees until everything else catches up.
Nearly the end of the winter, nearly the end of the day, nearly the end of the trail.
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
— Albert Camus
In the north, winter is a grey ordeal that demands we watch intently for frozen evidence of summer. Having come upon it, the juxtaposition is captivating.
Peace . . .
I took my cup of coffee from the window like any other day. The young woman, a long red braid flowing down one shoulder, beamed out at me. I thanked her and told her to have a good day, as I had countless other women leaning out of countless other drive-through windows.
She replied, “It’s a beautiful day.”
I settled my cup in the hole between the seats expressly made for such things. As my attention turned back to the wheel, I glanced up toward the sky and around at the view. Clouds hung in a monotonous flat grey blanket. Trees stood silently as a few flakes drifted aimlessly toward the earth. Buildings echoed the color of the asphalt surrounding them.
It wasn’t a beautiful day through the lens that the rest of us were seeing it. An immediate smile came to my lips. New love. I’m quite certain there isn’t anything else that brings sunshine to a grey day like it, and her eyes shone with it. I was at once full of hope and sympathy for her. Passion is a fire; thrilling and bright, but it burns hot. It isn’t until the flames have died and the embers glow that we can settle into love’s warmth, and grey days are nothing more than grey days again.
In the minute while we waited for the barista to finish making my latte, she glowingly suggested I try the Cinnamon Almond Milk Macchiato. And why not? Next time,
“I’ll take what she’s having.”
Peace . . .