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Posts Tagged ‘reflections’

As the summer has ambled on, turning gently into the 40’s and 50’s at night, certain of the flowers and shrubs begin to lose their color, their energy to stand tall, their vibrancy. Such is the case each year with the beautiful snowball hydrangeas (as I call them.) They produce huge balls of snow white flowers in the spring which turn to the softest lime green as summer glides through. In late August, the canes bend low to the ground, and the once white snowballs now begin to turn to rust and copper. This is what I observed in the garden that surrounds my back porch.

And then, about a week ago, a herald appeared – a new, small white snowball. The temperatures had not gotten warmer; in fact, cooler nights had arrived when it bloomed. I am enchanted. And somehow heartened, as if a messenger of hope had appeared in the midst of so much worldly turmoil. The leaves of this large plant are drooping, crumbling at the edges, yet bright and tall stands a youngster in their midst. So I thought to photograph this resistor of cold nights, this affirmer of life among his fellow snowballs, who slowly yield to the coming of fall.

The snowball hydrangeas look equally magnificent as they dress for fall, slipping gradually into their new and deep copper attire.

I am a believer in signs and synchronicity (which people often refer to as “coincidence” or “accidents”). I can’t be sure what message this lovely upstart is meant to bring, if any, but it brought me a renewed wonder in nature and her whims; a small feeling that anything is possible; and a smile every time I look at it. And that’s quite enough.

I did not go on my brief photographic venture alone. I was joined by Pumpkin, who lives next door, and who thought to also enjoy the simple wonders of a sunny morning.

 

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From when I was quite little all the way to today people have asked me, `How do you know the names of so many flowers?’ It actually never occurred to me that I did; I thought everyone knew the names of flowers. Apparently not. The answer to that question is I just followed my Dad …  like a puppy.

MyFamily

Growing up, we had a smallish, but perfectly sized, house on a not very big lot of 50′ x 100′. I have a photo of our house shortly before we moved there; it was the second house in from the next bigger road and the rest of the houses on the block had not yet been built. I suppose it might have been called a development, but it looked nothing like the ones of today, all cookie-cutter and same-ish. Each home looked quite different in both style and building material, some clapboard, some all brick, some a mix of both and so on, but always  on the same size lots. What made our house so special was that there was always something growing, and it was my Dad who orchestrated it all.

To this day, I can see the rhododendron and the red, pink and white azalea in the front of the house interspersed with some evergreen shrubs; the daffodils and narcissus circling our beautiful big elm (home for a nest of those rapscallion squirrels); and the spot to the right of our front door with another rhododendron and a yearly change of annuals, purple and white ClimbingRoses-1957-newalyssum come to memory. Next to the garage grew a length of lily-of-the-valley with a flagstone walk alongside, and on the other side of the house, an andromeda, a dogwood with creamy white flowers, and myrtle.

The climbing roses, taken with my humble little Brownie camera.

But it was the backyard where my Dad really went to town. Behind the dining room were his roses; additional myrtle created a dark green backdrop behind. I can’t remember all their names, (perhaps he had a Peace Rose?) but I do remember the Japanese beetles. They were beautiful, too, I thought, and I wished they and the roses had a better relationship. At the end of the rose bed was a lilac tree. On the back of the garage was a trellis where he had smaller climbing roses of a cerise color. At the base of the roses, he grew strawberries, but I also remember pansies.

In the back right corner, there were peonies fluffed out like ballerina tutus. I always wondered why the ants liked to crawl on their buds so much; I’m sure he told me and I don’t remember. There were two large bleeding hearts, and a mix of other flowers I can’t recall, and  portulaca in front. Oh, I remember the portulaca! They were loaded with honeybees, and I was always sure they had me in mind for their next pollen visit. Or worse.

And in the other corner, a forsythia and a pink weigela, a mass of brightly colored tulips and zinnias for cutting (we always had cut flowers in the house all summer), and then my Daddy’s delicious tomatoes. We enjoyed them with many a dinner. Later he added a flowering plum in the yard with those lovely burgundy leaves and delicate pink blossoms.

Thinking back, how did my Dad do all this? When did he do it? (Oh – and he had gorgeous gardenias inside!) I can remember following him around when I was small and “helping.” I have no idea what all I was actually doing, I just know I was next to him, watching and listening while he trimmed and pruned, staked and watered. AnHonestHouse-CReyes2For the size of our little lot, it was quite an impressive display. My Dad was always happy when he was gardening (except for the squirrels and Japanese beetles.) He truly had a green thumb …  something I, unfortunately, did not inherit. I could plan a color layout like nobody’s business, but didn’t always have the right mix of what needed sun and shade, more or less water, trimming back or deadheading. Having all that come so naturally as it did to my Dad is a gift and I’m just thankful I got to follow him around.

And thanks to Cynthia Reyes and her memoir “An Honest House” for inspiring the warm reflections on my childhood and my earliest appreciation of all things growing and green.

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WomanThinkingBW-2On my path in life I have been told this numerous times by those who have guided me along the way. When life is going smoothly, we can understand this and can breathe a luxurious sigh of relief. Feel happy, even. But when things are not going all that well, in one way or another, a fairly immediate response to that same statement sounds something like, “Seriously? This is exactly where I’m supposed to be?”

I don’t know where so many people got the idea that life should just sail along and bad things should never happen to us, but it’s a pretty commonly held belief at its core. Intellectually, we all know better, of course. Things happen. That’s life. But on some deeper emotional level, many of us are truly taken aback when life throws us the usual curves it dishes up. Somehow we should not really get injured or  ill, certainly not seriously, (occasional colds being the understandable exception); we should not lose loved ones, nor have to suffer terrible financial hardship; everything in GirlThinking-2relationships should be able to be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction in the end; our children should be grateful and well-behaved; we should not lose our jobs; our homes should never catch fire, nor our cars break down in the middle of nowhere … these things just shouldn’t be happening. Right?

And yet they do. And in the midst of all the mess that is a part of life, I am repeatedly told that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. As are you.

I know when I step back that it’s true. I can’t control a great deal of what life brings to me, but I can control how I react to it, and in that, I AM exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m in the ideal spot to look at a situation, grasp its reality, and respond to it in the highest and best way possible.

Every obstacle we meet in life can be looked at as an opportunity to grow, to further develop the abilities we have to handle life and everything in it with love, dignity and grace. Of course, we have the option to feel miserable, to whine, complain and throw tantrums, but when we’re done with that, having found it’s gotten us nowhere, we can still try and figure out why what’s happening is happening, why it’s such a challenge, and then do something about it.

So even as I will sometimes want to sit and whine and/or do nothing in the face of various challenges, I remind myself that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. And there may be a reason for that; I have something to learn. If it’s not a good place, what do I need to do to make it better? I can actually be grateful to be given this chance to grow.

It’s a different perspective … and surprisingly effective when given a try.

 

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