Who do you surround yourself with? I hope with folks that encourage you to do better and still accept you when you are far from your best. I chose to surround myself with a wonderful man, family, friends, and mentors. People who reaffirm “I am enough.” Dean and I love each other’s company no matter where we are at, four or five hours in the vehicle on a road trip. We take in the scenery, silence, listen to music, and talk from time to time. Simply, home is where he is. I think he feels the same about me. This spring we have taken some long weekends relishing the spring greens and blooms. One weekend by ourselves, another included friends, and this last one included mentors and family. I met one of my culinary and literary heroes this past weekend. Dean and I drove to Eureka Springs, AR for The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow’s Poetluck event. I have been following Crescent Dragonwagon for over 25 years in books, magazines and online. She has authored over 50 cookbooks and children’s books as well as donated the Dairy Hollow House for this non-profit group as a base to encourage the written and spoken word. There at the WCDH Crescent and others welcomed every new and old face. It felt good to be recognized now that I have been coming to the writers’ group for almost 2 years. What a feeling of belonging while with my fellow writers.
“I wanted to appreciate the moments of my life more fully; I wanted to get out of my head and into my life; I wanted to deepen my knowledge of the world, of other people—and of myself.” ~ Gretchen Rubin
What do you surround yourself with? Beauty. Love. Words. Life. “Magic Pools” as Margaret Tarrant’s painting depicts those swirls of infinite dreams, some coming alive, others still being stirred up inside. Dean and I still dream and talk about a house a little bigger than our current cottage house. A home with enough space to welcome visiting guests and our hobbies. Adjoining are a small greenhouse and studio/workshop to create in. Most likely situated on the edge of town in a different Missouri county. See where God leads us as Dean’s retirement approaches. Meantime, we gather glimpses of the past through research, museums, and antique shops to know where we came from. We live in the present moment with loving relationships, positive affirmations, the Word of God, and meaningful activities that fill our days. We share the joys and sorrows of our loved ones. We watch and listen to a pair of robin birds care for their little ones literally outside our front door. We plant flowers, herbs, and greens in planters because we believe in the future. Surround sounds, touches, smells, tastes, and sights as Gretchen Rubin explains in her newest book Life In Five Senses. Today, every day live life fully present. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
Simplicity. “In a world of complexity, the best weapon is simplicity,” Price Pritchett is quoted. The simplicity of a garden is one place I find peace in this troubled world. I am an artistic gardener, rather than a scientific one. I love creating an ambiance with green life. The fragrances of fresh herbs after a soaking rain or while harvesting feed my culinary imagination for Dean and I’s next meal, cucumber salad with snippets of cilantro to cool the heat of the summer day. The beauty of August’s blooms set in a simple vase uplifts the day no matter the bad news. “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” Audrey Hepburn once said. It takes faith. “Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step,” artist Joni Eareckson Tada tells us. So I take one step at a time, one seed at a time. “Faith as a mustard seed can move mountains” as the Bible encourages us. I believe one simple step of love leads to another and then another. Those mountains of hatred will move. Make one simple step towards peace this very evening.
Surprisingly, these October days have been fairly mild. The first weekend of October we had 2 nights of cold air, but stayed frost-free in Missouri. Dean and I were in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that weekend, where frost covered the corn fields and pumpkins. Snow came down in the northern part of the state. In Missouri rain and more rain last week and through the weekend, but still no frost in our neck of the woods.
My herb bed still produces lush greenery. I have delayed potting the herb plants for the kitchen window. They do so much better in natural light, warm air, and a bed of organic soil. Tonight I needed to get away from the madness of the local urban troubles to my green sanctuary. Dean and I headed to our greenhouse situated in the countryside ar Boone Hollow Farm. Mild evening, still in the 60’s and the rain had passed for the time being. The creek had a steady flow over the rocks in the road next to the barn, which evenually leads to the greenhouse. Bugs sang their soothing tunes while we watered our geranium starters, hanging moss baskets, and the herb bed inside the screenhouse side of our structure. Despite the early sunset, I needed more green therapy. So I repotted some basil, sage, summer savory, wild parsley, and marjoram under the light of our gas lantern. Mid-June two misly sprigs of marjoram sprouted from a old packet of seeds. But look what produced, this huge herb plant. This October evening I pulled the marjoram jungle from its organic bed and potted it into a 14″ terra cotta pot. My pot overflows! Good organic soil, regular watering from the well or our rain barrel late summer into early autumn, and mother nature takes over. Oh how green friends can bring joy in life once again!
My earlier January blog posts I have written about many winter time musings, though I forgot to mention Scrabble, and its return with vigor at work and at home. You may have to refer to my summertime “Scrabble Words” blog post on July 18 to understand the history and humor behind my Scrabble games. With the frigid cold air and wind, I have to stay indoors. Cold-induced angiodema is not anything to mess with. So happy my husband along with my dog and cat do not mind my indoor exercise routine in the mornings, because I miss my walks on campus this winter. Scrabble replaces the walks during breaks and lunch time. Words appearing on the Scrabble board this week include “vast”,”port”,”pew”,”vow”,”foggy”,”hoard”,”wrecker”,and “tomb”. There is some inner meaning in the choice of words a person uses, I truly believe this. As you see my words range from the openness of “vast” and “port” and closing words of “wrecker” and “tomb”. Clearly, I am having a multitude of feelings, consciously or subconciously. Dean and I’s lives are at a fork in the road, with many roads to choose from. Each experience leads to another. More details will come out later, but I am praying for guidance for Dean and I. Will you please pray the same? Ultimately, I want to look at the whole of my life and see it spells “love” at each port.
I am counting down the days now to our summer escape to my favorite northern destination in Minnesota. 62 days to be exact. Island Lake between Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids at Valhalla Resort is the place to be. The steady lapping of the water across the sandy shoreline, I long to hear. And the loons with their young calling out to the others, echos in the morning air. The swift tide brings gemmy and shell treasures along the shoreline with mossy driftwood after an afternoon storm. Just the quiet of a summer evening is what I desire. Simple. No city lights, just the northern stars and shining moon to guide my walk along the gravel road to the campfire sparks awaiting for more friends to join.
During those days of rest, a book or two will be at hand to read. Poetry felt. More words to spill onto my journal, eventually onto this blog. Last summer was the genesis of another writing genre, a literary affair with history and romance. Dean and I’s first. Another new adventure for us, probably a several year project with military and history research with 1st and 2nd hand accounts from the Minnesotan locals. Nature walks and shady naps under the birch trees abade.
Of course, the other escape is the garden. Someone’s other than mine, where I do not have to work in it, just be. All the senses awakened. Planted purple lobelia, pink impatiens, and contrasting green native ferns glisten with dewdrops of the crisp mornings. Vignettes of wrought-iron and wooden creations, the ambiance of charm. Fragrant organic tea and delicious strawberry bread shared with my friend while sparrows chirp and chipmunks scurry. I cannot wait to be at Valhalla once again.
Other destinations are on the horizon, I see a place for Dean and I to call “our own”. “Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times its sent away,” poet Sarah Kay writes. “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way,” Dr. Suess encourages us. See where this life leads us …
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth