The new, fresh year began in the Florida Keys. Fireworks flashed its arrival in living color. The week to follow I soaked in some sunrises, sun rays, and sunsets too gorgeous for words. New vignettes and adventures, fresh insights and living in 2017.
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!
Summertime textures and a palette of colors keep the canvas alive. The humid afternoon storm cleared with a lone sunflower opening as the clouds parted. A seed remnant from bird feed tossed during the past long and cold winter sprouted in our moss basket near the kitchen window and has grown to bring sunshine to my day. In the evening a breeze cuts through the humidity as Dean and I drive down the country highway to the farm where our greenhouse resides. Wispy feather clouds less than an hour before sunset seem to paint a silhouette…
Wispy feathers grace
golden eye with black shadows
hides behind hat brim
Anna Marie Gall
June 17, 2014
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.
Summer evening still
Sunset honeysuckle sweet
Peachy sky resides.
This Friday evening I experience the calm after last week’s storms while enroute to Boone Hollow Farm where our greenhouse shelters our plants. Gorgeous week it has been, mild 70’s and 80’s. The fragrance of the honeysuckle growing wildly along the 2-lane highway fences engulf my nostrils. Such a contrast from a week ago. Dean and I load our van with market plants as every Friday night. Terra cotta pots of basil, dill, and sage have been taken to the Lake Saint Louis Farmers’ Market this morning. Did you know that herbs do best in terra cotta? The pot absorbs moisture and allows the plant to be watered longer. I snipped thyme from my kitchen terra cotta pot for the turkey breast that will be tonight’s crockpot dinner. Roasted red potatoes and green beans will accompany the tender meat entree. Sunday will be more of the same at the Chandler Hill Vineyards Farmers’ Market. Only rain showers are called for Sunday. Dean will have a pleasant visit with his oldest son and his lovely lady while selling at the market. I will be selling spices and herbs at the Olde Town Spice Shoppe Saturday and Sunday. Buy local, and come visit me at the small shoppe in historic St. Charles. Dean with Deanna Greens And Garden Art will vend at the Lake Saint Louis Farmers’ Market and Chandler Hill Vineyards Farmers’ Market. Just look for our lush green perennials and herbs, and buy! Market leisurely this weekend in St. Charles County, Missouri, as we have much to offer.
The clouds have been ominous since early this morning at daybreak. As the sun came from the east, the clouds and cold front came from the southwest, meeting for a spectacular contrasting display in the sky. Rumblings of spring have been heard all day, some rain produced from those clouds. I observed from my 5th floor office in Clayton, as a tornado watch had been issued until 9:00pm tonight. We need the rain, come rain. No high winds or hail, and definitely no tornadoes. please. The unseen sunset this evening was met with heavy cloud cover. Rotating, violent winds brought about alarms and sirens all around St. Peters just before 8:00pm. Composure, an herbal supplement was given to our nervous labrador, and we tried to find Celine, our timid cat but she found low shelter somewhere in the house. I enjoyed two strawberry daiquiris spiked heavily with Captain Morgan while the local tornado alarms blared for 15 minutes just minutes after savoring homemade fajitas and saffron rice by Chef Mick. While no basement, we were feet from our interior bathroom just in case that train sound started. So much for rumblings of spring. The storm screams and alarms blare to tell us spring is here in Missouri. We all survived, thank God!
The winter storm came as the sundogs told us. (See my previous blog, “Sundog” for details.) Ice and snow kept falling creating treacherous road conditions. The 35-minute commute became a 2-hour slippery ride home from work. Three excited grandkids, their two tired parents, and two black labs greeted Dean and I at the door mid-afternoon. Celine and Lily, our house cats were perched on the couch cackling at the birds feeding outside the windows. Black-capped chickadees, juncos, bright red cardinals, house wrens, and 3 or 4 types of sparrows were our entertainment this afternoon. The feeders and trays were filled with a seed mix twice since yesterday morning, and our feathered friends kept their energy supply up with the seeds. Chirps were heard until sunset. A gray squirrel visited twice, digging in the pot under one of the feeders. He scurried up a stow-away pecan at each visit. Celine twitched her whiskers and tail with anticipation to meet eye-to-eye with the 4-legged visitor. The double-pane window stood in her way for a good chase. Soon our youngest grandson was napping with his momma, and our granddaughters took the dogs out for winter play in the backyard. My heart is happy, so glad I came home early today.
This morning I witnessed four sundogs in the sky while enroute to work. Definitely a sign of the weather changing again. Our mock spring is just that. The weather reports this past two days have indicated a winter storm due into St. Louis, Missouri and area on Thursday. Do you know what a sundog is? Well, my father always called this patch of a rainbow seen in the sky usually around sunrise or sunset a “sundog”. He would say, “a storm is coming in” or “bad weather is around the corner”. I assumed it was a Native American phrase, as my father was very much interested in American history and our natives. But according to Wikipedia’s definition the name “sundog” is an Old World phrase. The scientific name is called “parhelia” which in Greek means “beside the sun”. Check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundog for a more scientific explanation on the “sundog”. There is an art masterpiece “Vadersolstavlan”, which is Swedish for “The Sundog Painting” or “The Weather Sun Painting”. It was painted in the 1500’s depicting Stockholm, Sweden with this weather phenomenon as the focal point. I have included a copy of this painting on my blog. Aristotle called them “mock suns”. According to poet Aratus, the parhelia indicates rain, wind, or an approaching storm. “Parhelia” is included in his catalogue of Weather Signs. So in the days of old, the people simply watched the sky without doppler radar and other sophisticated instruments. St Louis weather folks are telling us sleet and snow during the day tomorrow, with up to a 1/2 inch of freezing rain overnight into Friday. Winter is not over in Missouri.
At dusk the sunset shown scattered slivers of pink while driving to St. Charles County from Pike County. It reminded me of the sliver of pink on my father’s cheeks Grandpa pointed out while he and I visited Dad last evening. My 97-year old grandfather had not been able to make the 1-hour trip to see his son for 7 weeks due to the summer heat wave and car engine malfunctions. We made this trip possible especially this week. Hospice care seems to think this may be my father’s last week. The two, father and son greeted each other with gladness in their hearts and faces. Something I will never forget.
It seems wrong for a father to say “goodbye” to his son, no matter how old you are.
Their last words “You take care, son.” “See you later, Pops!”
Good bye is not forever … Thank You, Jesus for eternal life!