My life is surrounded with people, animals, and plant life. My home is shelter to the wandering soul. “Happy is the house that shelters a friend”, Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted. Midnight, Celine, Joe, and Pennylane … all adopted because someone else could not care for them. Our furry critters are family. Our Midnight wandered the streets of town late evening on Friday. A construction or utility person must have left our gate open. Thank God for the internet, digital photos, good people, and prayers. A group of teenage boys watched him as he paced back and forth near a busy road, contacted one of their parents, and then brought Midnight to the shelter of their home. We were rejoined with our Labrador by early Saturday morning after a series of FB postings. Well-fed and watered, he rather enjoyed is overnight stay at his new friends’ home. The boys renamed him “Hercules”.
Saturday afternoon Dean and I prepared the garage for our potted plants to be brought inside. The first hard frost seems to be delayed, but may come this week. Geraniums, succulents, a lemon tree, bird-of-paradise, ferns, spider plants, and moses-in-the-cradle create a jungle our cats like to prowl in from time to time. Over the coldest months between November through March, my green friends are somewhat dormant under the high power plant lights, and most survive to be brought back outside with the warmer spring days. One green friend gets some special treatment going into 2017. My arrowhead plant grew lushly green and full over the summer. Sensitive to the cold air, the semi-heated garage may not stay warm enough for it to maintain its brilliant green foliage. The arrowhead plant is sheltered near the mantel next to my palm until our room addition is completed.
Life gets stagnant from time to time. Satiety, boredom, ennui sets in. Another time the demands of this person and that project adds up to a multitude of “have to” rather than “want to” chores. So what do you do to get out of that funk, evolve into a better mood for the day or status in your life? You spontaneously take a 24-hour breather, an overnight retreat somewhere neutral. Dean and I did just that. On Saturday into Sunday we drove the Missouri country highways in St. Charles, Warren, Franklin, Washington, St. Francois, Jefferson, and St. Louis Counties. Saturday afternoon we stopped at a local winery. By evening we found a state park to eat and finally lay our heads down.
Sunday morning, another overcast start to the new day. But silence resignated instead of the buzz of street traffic and urban noises. I gathered my sundress, dressed quietly to not wake my sweetheart. Stepped out the back door, leaving just a screen door between me and the quaint hideaway I slept in. I sat in a lawn chair situated on the deck overlooking the slopes of huge trees leading to the river valley. The cardinals and finches sang. Then a hush before the dark cloud rolled over with a hum of pitter-patter on the dense leaves. I heard the raindrops approach before they where atop the trees in front of me. A steady rain, gently watering the earth.
Queen Anne’s lace, orange day lilies, and pink coneflower swayed with the breeze and occasional rain shower. Darker clouds rolled in with sheets of rain coming down as we dined at the state park cafe. We waited out the sudden outburst, and then made it to the jeep for a drive to the motel seated on a high ridge over the Meramec River. “Where do the butterflies go when it rains”, I thought aloud. Butterflies hide when it rains, like they do at night. They hide under the shelter of large leaves or a pile of leaves. Sometimes butterflies go under rocks or structures. But other butterflies just put their head down on the grass or bushes closing their wings tightly. If the rains are heavy, their wings are damaged and they never make another flight. Where do you hide when the weather gets rough?
“The well of Providence is deep. It’s the buckets we bring to it that are small”~ quoting Mary Webb. How rich is the life that shares love, how huge is the house that shares love. This is what I experience when I visit my daughters and their families. Nothing buys this life. Only love fills it. Sharing hearts, moments, gifts, talents with each other and those neighbors they are surrounded with. Once again our small home houses a daughter and her family while they recuperate and gain financial independence again.
Dean and I were able to get away for a couple of days, visited the utopian town of New Harmony, Indiana. 200 years ago German immigrants from Pennsylvania founded this town. Today, this golf cart community has an appeal and simplicity that I can understand why it is a R & R destination for some. The roofless chapel, wooded landscape, flower gardens, quiet streets, and history to admire. Midnight, our dog loved the little lake we discovered. Swimming and lapping the cool water. This swan shared her home with us for a couple of hours. So glad she did. Co-existence … “The well of Providence is deep …”
I sat in our small SUV waiting on Dean to come out with a bagful of groceries needed for the next day or two’s menu. A late Saturday evening after the comical “Always Patsy Cline” play at the Westport Playhouse, I caught 10 minutes of shut-eye with the cool night air blowing away the heat of the day. I awoke to a noise in the local grocery store parking lot, and saw in the corner of my eye a quick movement. I turned, and there stood a deer! Misplaced or in starled my presence, we froze for a second or two. Co-existence? Suddenly, off across the parking lot and into the neighboring field he ran. Strangest encounter for a late night Saturday.
Well that deer sighting didn’t stop there. On following Sunday afternoon we arrived home from the church picnic, tidying up the house before taking a nap, and Dean hollers, ” I just saw a deer run down the street”. I ask Dean which direction was the critter headed, and he pointed west. I go out the front door to investigate, and there was the deer grazing in the neighbor’s front yard, 3 doors down and across the street. I don’t believe we have ever encountered a deer on our street the whole 28 years I have lived there. When I was a child, we would see a deer or two at my childhood home and tree farm about 2 miles from where I live now. A much more rural area 40 years ago. But not on our street, and our neighborhood in a city of this size, over 50,000 people! I am not sure if this was the same deer I saw the night before, only 1 mile away from Dean and I’s home. But co-existence came again for another 30 seconds before the deer saw me staring at him. He ran off once again.
Monday morning’s traffic report: “A herd of deer are causing traffic jams in St. Peters…”. I have not seen a deer in St. Peters since. I suppose the authorities took care of matters … I enjoyed the deer while they were amongst us. But then, maybe that is what has been chewing on my daisy and mum plants? I have been blaming the rabbits and squirrels. Cannot we co-exist? I know it is not easy, but I continue to dream.
What do all these have in common? M’waw! In any given 15-hour period I can be all four places: historical small town main street, bustling city streets, tree-deprived urban avenue, or a country dirt road. The brick road, Main Street Missouri’s first state capitol of St. Charles, global skyscrapers towering over financial hub Clayton, urban neighborhoods sprinkled throughout St. Charles and St. Louis Counties, and the countryside near Defiance’s howling coyotes and wildlife; each culture is within 15 miles from my home. Today, the contrasting changes were apparent to me. Sunday, I spent 8 hours on Main Street in St. Charles, Missouri selling herbs, spices, and other food items at a niche market with literally hundreds of people during the Festival of the Little Hills, shopping at leisure and a slower pace. Early Monday morning I entered into a landscape of skyscrapers after bumper to bumper traffic at the fast pace of a city freeway. Suburbia is entered on several occasions as I get off the freeway as soon as I am able, finding quieter routes through residential areas and strip malls. And then to the greenhouse, winding down as I go out of the city, then suburbia, onto a state highway, county highway, and finally taking the dirt road near the weathered barn up the hill to our greenhouse. Most evenings we hear the owl’s hoot and the coyotes howl. Currently, I co-exist in these four cultures. Though two of them I am most at home with. Guess which two? Adaptability and flexibility have been engrained into my character these past five years while working for St. Louis County Government. Will I thrive for another 11 – 12 years in the city and its commute? Or is small town main street calling us home? More words on that subject at another time. Praying to see what God has in mind for Dean and I these last years before retirement.
Dean is due out of St. Louis for his Washington, DC weekend trip with his father, brother, and son much later than he desired today. The winter storm cancelled and delayed many flights in the Midwest. So we are winter shut-ins today. No need to report to work if we scheduled this Friday off for a 3-day weekend. Give the road crews an opportunity to clean off the snowy streets. So Dean slept in until 9:00am, and I arose an hour later than my usual 5:00am. Cannot sleep in too long. I put together Deanna Green And Garden Art expense receipts, sorted them in monthly order, and entered them onto the 2012 spreadsheet. Computers are handy when they function properly, and we have graciously been given one to replace the old virus-infected one. Accounting comes easy to me, I just do not like doing it. So I procrastinated until this week. I’d rather be gardening, reading, writing, or watching the birds…
This gray wintery day the Carolina wren, tufted titmouse, house finch, Carolina chickadee, and Eurasian tree sparrow gathered at the feeders. We have gone through more than 5 pounds of seeds in 3 days. Sunlight broke through the thinning clouds an hour ago with the promise of a clear, but very cold overnight. I stoked last night’s logs, and have a fire blazing in kitchen fireplace. So cozy next to the computer desk. Sipping coffee laced with Grand Marnier in my mug while I catch up on e-mails and write this blog. My son-in-law will take Dean to the airport, so I can remain a cocoon in my home. Hot chicken soup, roasted marshmallows, and homemade snow ice cream with the grandkids this evening. I like being a winter shut-in, my mind free indeed to dream. “Take time to contemplate – away from the opinions and influence of others – what you really want and what you believe to be important in your life.” ~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie
So much of our thinking and planning seems to align to conventional practices. This is in every area of our lives, relationships, career paths, foods we eat, medicines we take, what we spend time with or on, the house we live in, so on and so on. Break throughs in sciences seem to tell us that some old practices have been the best practices all along. For instance, the present interstate highway system we have has caused major traffic congestion in the cities, and kept local commerce from growing. The lecture I attended at Washington University last week where John Norquist gave the alternative. Tear down some of those interstates in the city. Allow secondary arteries, the urban streets to be available for travelers to slow down and visit the city, create more jobs, circulate more commerce, allow pride in the citizens to show off their cultures. Maybe more walking and biking will be encouraged with sidewalk systems. Hooray for out-of-the box thinkers! St. Louis City and County are looking into this option. What do Milwaukee citizens think about the similar project that took place in their city?
Then there is the Slow Food movement. (There is that word “slow” again.) This started in Europe, Rome, Italy to be exact as a direct statement to the fast food construction plans for a McDonald’s back in 1986. According to founder and president Carlo Petrini, “everyone has the right to good, clean, and fair food”. That means quality, flavorful food, it is natural form, and produced and tranported in an ethical manner at a fair price. A person who eats locally, is called a locavore. Slow Food includes local food. (There is that word “local” once again.) Foods grown, produced, and consumed on a local level will support local folks, right? So this is where Deanna Greens And Garden Art resides. Local!!! I cannot wait to get those beds raised and plant some organic seeds for herbs and veggies. We hope to sell more seedlings to local farmers, and herbs to local farmer’s market folks next spring. And Dean & I will consume lots of our own homegrown veggies. Veggies are the alternative to pre-packaged, processed grain products. Herbs are the alternative to salt and synthetic chemicals the food label lists. Check out the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis from your local library and see what today’s wheat and corn are doing to our bodies. Or Dr. Davis has his own blog: www.wheatbellyblog.com. An eye opener. Yes, an alternative diet, yet what we ate like before WWII. Old practices return.
Dean and I personally shop local as well. 95% of our Christmas gifts are bought locally. Wine from Chandler Hill Vineyards and foods & crafts from local artisans. I hope you supported Local Saturday in your community a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend we slowed our pace down, savored a local beer and satisfied our palettes while listening to local music at our neighborhood joint, the St. Charles Coffee House. www.saintcharlescoffeehouse.com. What is your favorite local eatery? In our travels, Dean & I look for those local joints, and we may visit yours!
This past weekend I had the opportunity to walk the streets of my town as my chauffeur hubby (our EarthDance Farm friends call him “Dean the Drivin Daffodil”) was out-of-town with the white whale van, and our jeep is still lame. Though I wanted to get to church for Saturday was the annual Remembrance Mass. My father had passed away 1 month ago, and we as a church community prayers said together for many other deceased families. Very moving ceremony, the grace of God was evident. The walk is about 2.5 miles, took 40 minutes and another 40 back home. Cool crisp frosty morning. It warmed up as the morning went along. I was fortunate to have sidewalks most of the route. Then Sunday, I walked the other direction about 1 mile to another church to assist with catering of donuts and coffee. Walked back home, though challenged with an area of no sidewalks, and no sign to indicate a warning of such. I had to cross a very busy road to find the sidewalk. Next week I will attend a lecture at Washington University in regards to street designs sponsored by TrailNet. Lector John Norquist, the president and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism will speak on some projects in the St. Louis area. Do you walk or ride a bike to church, work, or play? Please share your alternative transportation experiences.
… I love the year’s decline, and love
Through rustling yellow shades to range,
O’er stubble land, ’neath willow grove,
To pause upon each varied change …
Now shatter’d shades let me attend,
Reflecting look on their decline,
Where pattering leaves confess their end,
In sighing flutterings hinting mine.
For every leaf, that twirls the breeze,
May useful hints and lessons give;
The falling leaves and fading trees
Will teach and caution us to live…
These verses are from a poem “Autumn” written by John Clare (1821). I walked down the Clayton street to another building on campus for a training class this morning. I felt and heard the autumn winds in my hair and the rustling leaves. In the wind I feel my father’s presence. Autumn was his favorite season. Brain cancer did not win, as my father has eternal life with Jesus. I had to go out again at my lunch break, just so I could feel the winds and know my father is present in my day. Did you know, my Dad, you built so much of my character and personality? That steadfastness, strong, and stubborn characteristic I shared at the ceremony in your honor on Saturday, but tenacity would be another trait I forgot to mention. This greenhouse business, Deanna Greens and Garden Art is requiring tenacity. It is a sunny, warm, and blustery October day, with another cold front meeting with the current 80+ temperatures which will produce storms in a few short hours. I see the clouds coming from the west. A 40+ degree drop in temps is to come this evening. Dean & I moved many plants to safer shelter last night. Up into the wee 1:00am hour. We have been in the process of moving for weeks, and have found homes for many of our tropicals. But my potted geraniums, wandering jews, swedish ivy, and other hanging baskets needed to be someplace warm. The greenhouse rebuild has come to a halt with the question of electricity ampage for heat, fan, and light resources. Dean met with an engineer from the electric company. Our prayer is that the barn down the hill from our greenhouse has 300 amp, so we can connect. Waiting for an answer as we have permission to do so from the landlord. The side walls and plastic liner should be completed this week, delayed a week for more important matters such as my father’s funeral. See the lovely autumn canvas from my parents’ home in Pike County, the photo taken by my cousin during our gathering in Dad’s honor on Saturday.
Every Tuesday and Thursday the employees of St. Louis County have an opportunity to walk the streets of Clayton, Missouri. Our personal trainer from Gold’s Gym, Phil brings us out of our offices and work stations to the beautiful outdoors. Absorbing vitamin D in the sun and breathing fresher oxygen all the while exercising. In a fleeting moment I captured a photo while we waited for the traffic light to change. Happy walkers, we are!