Friday seems so far away when I return to my Clayton office on Monday mornings. My weekends are full. Never bored. With six grown children and their growing families, a greenhouse, and per diem retail sales at the local herb and spice shop, boredom is never an issue. Herbal tea soothes Monday’s madness. Wish I could be where these herbs grow … Quaintness in the quiet of a countryside garden. Monday’s evening chores include the creation of an Italian bowl with zucchini, yellow squash, fresh basil, Italian sausage and rotini in zesty tomato sauce topped with an Italian cheese blend. After cleaning the kitchen, off to the closets once again. I am lessening the wardrobe, giving away and throwing away. Keep these fashions long enough, they will be considered vintage! Monday night’s sleep rolls into Tuesday so quickly…
Hot herbal cinnamon tea greets my Tuesday afternoon break at the office. The AC is working overtime this humid July day. Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s thoughts go to Dean and I’s house hunt. We met some monumental financial goals this year with hopes of a simply charming home to call “our own” before year end. It is interesting to view other people’s homes, thinking of the history lived in them. We desire a home built over 50 years ago, when quality reigned. Large is not necessary. Quaintness is. This quest to turn an antiquated house into a picturesque home is exciting. Old Town St. Charles has been in our thoughts, but open to other neighborhoods in the St. Louis area. We would like a yard large enough to occupy our Labrador retriever, Midnight when he is outdoors. Our green plant friends such as flowers, herbs, and vegetables are quintessential to our life, so space for them is paramount.
What does “quaint” look like to you? So how about this “Escape Cabin” designed by architect/artist Kelly Davis?
This might work when Dean & I are ready to retire!
The first day of May, May Day was met with the chilly wind and overcast sky in Missouri. Don’t you picture children and women dancing around the maypole of ribbons with flowers on their heads and in baskets? Whatever happen to the old tradition of leaving a May basket of goodies and flowers on your neighbors’ doorstep? The good ole’ days! We could use such gestures to return. Maybe a tradition for me to keep alive. Next year I will gift someone with a May basket. Shhh! It’s suppose to be a secret! It may be you! This celebration has many variations, with the original celebration dating before Christ. Pagan in nature, with Christian influences along the way. The German origins of May Day supposely came when St. Walburga brought Christianity to Germany, and it is referred to as “Mai Day”. The old world picturesque town of Hermann, Missouri still has a MaiFest celebration every year.
May Day was also a day to celebrate for the laborers, as most seeding was completed by May 1. This year of 2014, farmers and gardeners are challenged by this date. Farmer Dave on the 550 AM radio program said this morning that only 45% of the United States corn crop is in the ground already. This cold air lingering around does not help matters, and for others the drenching rains keep the farmers from completing their seeding. A group of farmers gathered for the first Thursday farmers’ market of this season in Clayton, Missouri this afternoon. I am excited to have them just down the street a 1/2 block from the building I work in. I will patronize them every Thursday after I finish my day at the office. Tonight I baked some fresh organic kale sprinkled wth olive oil and kosher salt. My recipe is on the What A Dish page of this WordPress blog. While at the farmers’ market, I picked up some ramps, a wild variety in the allium family. Some refer them to “wild garlic” or “wild leek”. These are an Appalachian delicacy that have made their way into upscale restaurants more recent years. My ex-husband’s family was from West Virginia, where ramps were skillet fried with potatoes and eggs. The house smells like ramps for days afterwards. Veggie season is in! This locavore is so excited!
Also referred to as the vernal or March equinox in the northern hemisphere, the spring equinox has come finally! Oh, the joy! And what a lovely day this first day of spring in Missouri! Just so happy to FEEL spring! I had my indoor Tai Chi class at my lunch hour, though I walked outdoors in sunshine and a brisk breeze to get back to my office and strolled for 10 minutes during my afternoon break today. Picturesque!
All things spring …
Anna Marie Gall
March 20, 2014
I so relate to this allegory, the life of a tree and my life. Please read it! Lovely blog!
She watched herself age in the reflection year after year. Not every year stands out in her memory clearly, but moments do.
The first time she realized that she was tall enough to catch a glimpse of herself in the water. Oh the excitement she felt!
The year she realized that she was tall enough and her branches full enough to give shade to the deer of the field. Such a wonderful feeling of being needed!
Then were the years she welcomed her very own seedlings. The pride as they grew! And the sadness as some couldn’t. With this time came the realization that most things were not in her control. She didn’t like that knowledge.
She grew through the seasons of rain and sun and rested through the snow and cold. Each spring she anticipated the ice melting so she could once more see her reflection and all of…
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Dean and I along with our labrador-flat coat retriever mix, Midnight arrive at the 60+ year old cabin situated on Island Lake just at sundown. Oranges, pinks, and purples kiss the lake “good night” and welcome us. It’s been a long haul from St. Charles County, Missouri to this Minnesota paradise. But so much worth the road trip. Weekday and weekend warriors cannot stop on vacation either. We had taken the extra long route following the Mississippi River highways. So a 12-hour trip became a 15-hour trip. The meandering scenery had slowed our pace down before arriving at this moment. Midnight climbs out of the SUV from his secure kennel into what I think my father described to him as heaven. Our dog gazed wide-eyed at this expansive beautiful lake recounting the aquatic tales his deceased master had told him, I am sure. Into the lake he went, lapping water and going for his doggy swim in Island Lake. Just 2 minutes to realize heaven was here, and my father’s spirit present.
Our first night at the cabin we unloaded the SUV, then gathered jackets and a flashlight onward bound by foot just up the road with our dog. The little green cabin had folks congregated there near a campfire. We met up with my childhood friends and greeted new ones from as far away as Norway. Midnight gets acquainted with more labradors, the natural breed of our 4-legged friends in the land of 10,000 lakes. Before we know it, the time passes midnight with the campfire still aflame. Embers will be there in the morning to start a skillet breakfast. We head back to our lakeside cabin, choosing the front bedroom of the 2-bedroom pine-lined dwelling. I climb into bed too tired to have a spring from the mattress just about empale me. We’ll sleep in the back bedroom tonight and deal with the mattress issue tomorrow. We discovered the back bedroom mattress was not much better as Dean and I are forced to meet in the middle. This mattress’ sunken center provided cozy quarters for this exhausted yet still honeymooning couple. Our backs ache in the morning begging for more support. Dean flips over the empaling mattress to its other side to discover the year of the mattress … 1971. Why that is the first year my father along with my mother and their 4 children ventured to this heavenly northern destination in a Chevy Impala. Now don’t cast too much judgement on this mattress date. The cabins are only used 3 – 4 months out of the year, so a normal 10-year mattress can go to 30 – 40 years. So at 42-years old, it might be due for replacing.
Electronics, computer and TV are non-existent in the cabins. While on this get away, Dean chose to use his basic cell phone on occasion. I took a vacation from it all. This post was written last week, scrawled onto my paper journal … I awoke this morning before sunrise. Is it night still? No clock to check as we are in a time warp at this northern lake retreat. In just a few minutes I see a tinge of blue in the black sky. I take this moment to observe the day’s beginning. I slip on my jeans and sweatshirt and quietly step onto the screened porch. Those moments of complete silence, no human awake just nature and I welcome the morning in this neck of the woods. Our dog, Midnight stretches on the porch and awaits at the porch door to be let out. He, too embraces morning’s arrival this day. There is something special about living in the present moment. All senses akeen, see the colors change before my eyes recognizing the picturesque treeline before me. The loons cry out as the fog lifts from the lake. Misty vapors keep my skin and clothes damp, I smell and taste the lake, and I remember my father’s love of this place. His planning, mapping, and research of his yearly fishing trip started in January when the tree farming and landscape designing was at a hault. My father was a planner, and I too like him. Yet this present moment reels me back to reality. I would have missed this unforgetable sunrise had I rolled over and slept in another morning of my vacation … ducks, a blue heron, and even a night owl calling it a night show themselves amongst the pines, birches, and cattails. The dragonflies are now flitting about, illuminating more color for this overcast day. The brisk morn may see a rain shower before the warm noon sun. No boat on the lake, that I hear or see, and 2 hours into this day … In 1971 and several years to follow, my father would have been out on the lake by now catching walleye and bass for that evening’s dinner. Way before my siblings or I and definitely my mother opened an eyelid. I miss my father today like everyday. This place called Valhalla is heaven on earth, and was my father’s favorite place while he was alive on earth. Somehow he is with Midnight, Dean, and I. It is called eternal life …
For my siblings and I Valhalla meant playing with friends all day with very little chores. We would play h-o-r-s-e in the barn, swim in the cold lake, boat rides, hide-n-seek with the fireflies lighting the path, and a campfire with songs and roasted marshmallows. Those young teenage years I wanted to be on the receiving end of another kiss from a cute Norwegian boy, my Minnesota friends’ visiting cousin. To me Valhalla is about people, kind-hearted genuine folks. The mild summer and lake fish bring the people. But the people bring life to the vacation. The summer visitors enjoy fish fries, potlucks, smokey breakfast skillets, and campfire tales. This year the fish fry, skillet breakfast, fire grilled pizzas, and lemon rice krispies treats make the food highlights. More Norwegian cousins entertain the family and friends this year. I miss my Norwegian friend from my childhood, and his cousin promises to persuade his return to Valhalla next summer. Initimate moments we share about the death and memory of loved ones. Songs were sung at church and at the campfire. Yes, my Scrabble game had kinder words reflecting my kinder, at peace thoughts this restful week. The year of the mattress did not reflect the oldness of 1971, but the goodness.
My husband, Dean and I at times wonder if the grass is greener elsewhere. Not sure where, but just elsewhere. We consider relocation, a fresh start as a second-marriage couple thoroughly in love with each other. We talk about a place called “our own”. Not raising young children any more, and in a few weeks an empty nest once again. A new beginning and more discoveries is what we sense. Is it a matter of a different house other than where I raised my children, or is it a different town, and/or new positions in a different area altogether? I came across a couple of young birds this morning enroute to another building on campus. One drank from a tiny puddle near the street curb. I said “little bird look over there, there is a fountain full of water.” Why drink from a small street puddle, when a fountain of fresh water is just one building over? Is the water fresher on the other side of the bushes, the grass greener on the other side of the fence?
Dean and I traveled to Arkansas this past weekend for a family wedding. Neither of us had been in southern Arkansas before this trip. We ventured off onto country highways from I-55 to camp at a state park on Friday night enroute to the Monticello, Arkansas wedding for Saturday evening. Cotton, rice, corn, and winter wheat fields dotted the landscape between rivers, sloughs, and bogs. Crop dusters flew over us like crows, leaving green pellets of God only knows what on the highway. The dull gray soil says it needs sustainable products rather than more synthetics. Stuttgart, Arkansas is the duck and rice capital of the world according to their signs. I do not want to venture on the validity of that statement, but it was picturesque after witnessing some desolate, impoverish homesteads before arriving in this prosperous town. Crepe myrtles, magnolia trees, snowball bushes, yuccas, cactus, and water lilies dotted the landscape with green and contrasting color as we entered into central Arkansas. The state park camp was so typical, inexpensive and loved by the other travelers and locals. Father’s Day weekend was not too terribly crowded, though plenty of children bicycling and playing ball nearby probably while their fathers wetted a fishin’ line. The bugs galore are summer-long tenants rather than visitors such as ourselves. I am chewed alive by mosquitoes, and the chiggers found me within minutes. Instead of fighting the insect population I decided to read inside the zipped screen of the tent on the comforts of the air mattress. As soon as dusk came, the clothes came off to cool down. My eyelids were shut within minutes after sundown. Early in the night a raccoon visited camp rattling a cup of ice we left outside our tent door. The people of new localities always interest me. The polite southern culture resignates in Arkansas. “Yes, ma’am, no ma’am”, the young folk say with sincerity. It was nice to meet some local folks at the wedding. The bride’s and groom’s families and friends blended well for a festive occasion. Good food, music, dancing, and laughter throughout the evening. An oldy but goody song brought Dean and I to our feet, and a Spanish-flavored tune just about sent me over Dean’s shoulder. I told my dance partner, “none of that fancy stuff, I need to be able walk off the dance floor tonight.” Castanets were in order, but none to be found. The Saturday and Sunday night hotel stays were restful.
Today reality hits, the work week is in full bloom. My more-than-busy Missouri life needs to change. Working 7 days a week with three jobs is much for anyone. Demands increase at work, with no pay raises. Change is in order, and around the corner. Let’s see what comes.