weeds

So the past couple of weeks I have been happily tearing out shrubs and nondescript bushes around my house and replacing them with plants that I feel have real character… native plants. Plants that will do well here once established because, well because they grow here.

I do not understand why nurseries and big-box garden centers persist in stocking (and selling) flowers and plants that grow well in zones where there is no humidity (that’s not here), or the night temperatures never exceed 60* (not here, either). I fell for that. I’d see an exotic or beautiful plant and snatch it up, carefully reading its little happiness parameters– whether it liked sun or shade, dry or damp soil, but completely ignored that it could not survive in sandy soil (definitely here). I would be deeply saddened as I watched this lovely flower slowly succumb to its inevitable demise.

So I planted many things, tiny presently but which will, in only a few years, I hope grow into their natural mature states. Carolina allspice (sweetshrub), clethra (I cannot find a common name for this fragrant little shrub). Elderberry, sweet bay and red buckeye which are all understory trees, or trees that do not grow much more than 10 feet or so.

Then I planted native flowers– echinacea, blackeyed susan, butterfly weed (aesclepias), fennel which swallowtail butterflies lovcaterpillar-562104_640.jpge. That’s the wonderful thing about native plants. There are often insects or caterpillars that have a symbiotic relationship with them. A milkweed (aesclepias) plant can be completely denuded of leaves and blooms by a monarch caterpillar.

(not my picture)

After it has eaten its fill it happily goes away to make its cocoon and become its beautiful butterfly self gran-canaria-171555_640.jpg (also not my picture) while the host plant grows back.

I planted gaillardia (blanketflower) because I love its warm orange and yellow and red colors and because it is probably the most native of all coastal flowers here. And it spreads (hence its name)  images.duckduckgo.jpg(public domain image)

I also planted some hibiscus which you never know what color their flowers are until they actually bloom for the first time. Anything from pink to red to white, purple or blue. And oxeye daisies. I recently learned these are considered weeds. How anyone could call a daisy a weed I’ll never know. But there they are, nestled among the hydrangea and wildflower seeds I scattered- zinnias, among other annuals.

So we’ll see. I live in a neighborhood that prides itself on its homeowner’s association’s perfection. Well, they can have their perfection in my front yard. But the backyard is mine.

Picture0418181543_1.jpg(Jack-in-the-pulpit)

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”   –Matthew 6:28

inspections

So this week my car’s annual inspection was due. This never takes long and I brought a good book for my wait. I’d not read a full chapter when I heard someone whispering my name which was strange because whenever my car is serviced they holler my name like an assembly line. So I turned and said “That’s me,” and a young man turned and gingerly walked toward me.

Uh oh. Car failure? No. He smiled sweetly, leaning in very close like they do at nursing homes when they ask the residents what they want for lunch and said quietly, ” I understand you’d like to discuss a new car?”

“No.”

I remembered someone calling the day before to let me know I’d be given some literature and they’d like to discuss this even though I’d declined this offer then, too. “I think I’ll keep this one a while longer.”

He smiled, nodded and disappeared.

Somehow when there is an apparent vast age difference the older person is either treated as though they might break or are impossibly hard of hearing and difficult to deal with. I remember my dad, well into his 80s, ordering a pizza for my son when we visited one day.

th.jpg

I have no idea what the delivery guy said to Dad but it threw him into a rage and I came running when I heard my father yelling at this kid who was totally unaware of what he’d done or said to set Dad off like that.

So I begin to understand why that happened. We are not old! Our bodies do not in any way reflect who we are. I understand there are many who, though young at heart and mind do not appreciate who they see when they look in a mirror. Looks change. Metabolism changes. Science tells us incessantly how our bodies stop or start doing certain things “due to advancing years”. Botox, body sculpting, face lifts, plastic surgery. Who wants to look like a Barbie doll at the age of 63?

Yet we have younger people who see old people, not who our minds are or our hearts, but the effects of aging. They see grey hair, wrinkled brows, thin, dry skin on arms

th.jpgand hands, age spots. They see watery eyes, baggy necks, slower pace.

 

 

But they don’t see wisdom. Understanding. Grace and patience that come from pushing hard through life, hitting walls, breaking them down, productive, fruitful years.

So rather than go off like a cannon as my Dad did I smile. I thank God that I have made it to a point in life I only saw before from the outside. I understand one day this young man will see through the looking glass from the other side.

I only hope he can appreciate what it took to get there.

 

Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.”    –Psalm 39:4

 

early

I can’t speak for every teenager but I was not a morning person those years. I relished occasional late night movies, “Creature Features”, “Thriller Theater”, anything that riveted my adrenal glands. So after the last one ended at 2 a.m. I toddled off to bed unless my dad had already gotten up to shoo me away from the television. So my mornings  started around noon or later.

After my son was born that all changed. Life was lived for a higher purpose and early mornings were part of it. Then I worked and until I became a librarian morning started where life’s mission was to get my son up for breakfast and in the car to get to school. Library days  started at 11 a.m. a couple of days a week when I worked 2nd shift till 9.

Now I am retired. I am managed by two rescue dogs, husky-mix Lily and terrier-mix Lulu. Mornings are the most important part of the day. The sleeping quiet of the pre-dawn, 4 or 5. Hearing each bird sing its wake up song. Walking our favorite paths before anyone or anything has made its mark– people, cars, even the sun. So this morning we saw in the earliness a primordial mist clinging to a nearby field

Picture0414180711_1.jpg

and Lily and Lulu take note

Picture0414180709_1.jpg

It’s early too for woodland spring flowers, these being ones I do not know what they are before they open

Picture0414180713_1.jpg   Picture0414180734_1.jpg

except wintergreen. Easily identifiable for its tri-leafed form, and a tiny flower bud at the center that will become a brilliant white 5-petaled flower, which will then become the brightest red berry

Picture0414180739_1.jpg

Later a different trail turned up wild blueberry bushes absolutely loaded with blooms which will soon be luscious, sweet berries

Picture0414181544_1.jpg

Payback for a long, very cold winter… an abundance of spring, newness, refreshment and food. If I am lucky I will be early enough to have some before the birds eat them all.

“Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.”   –C.S. Lewis

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever, amen…” –Ephesians 3:20, 21

dog hair and dryer lint

So when I was little my dad commuted every week to New York from our sleepy little southern town, and sometimes out of the country. One trip took him to Scotland where he bought for me a West Highland puppy. This was way back when airline travel was considered pretty fancy and before the nightmares of rushing, impatience and danger for animals. I don’t imagine animals traveled overseas much back in the 60s, if at all.

Dad put this little puppy in his overcoat pocket. When the stewardess saw her she melted. So Dad kept the puppy with him the whole flight home.

I was a very shy person. I did not have a lot of friends when I was growing up and loved reading books. Piper became my dearest and closest friend. As we got older I took more responsibilities for her and grooming, though not a favorite of Piper’s, became one of those responsibilities.

“Leave the hair clippings in the backyard,” my mom told me, “The birds can use them for their nests.” So I left this puffy blob of white dog hair in the yard.

Dad came home later that day and looked at the fluffy pile. “Did Piper eat something?” he  asked, absent-mindedly. Well, no she hadn’t but his comment must have put some sort of dark juju on that pile of hair because the birds didn’t touch it.

So now finally we are coming to spring here. Nature’s cruel joke of an early spring back in February is almost forgotten. Though people up north are still fighting off winter and we are even warned that temps will once again plunge into the 30s overnight I truly believe (silly me) this is the swan song.

Husky-mix rescue dog Lily has been shedding enough fur to fill several pillows or a small sofa. I brush her hair to try and stay ahead of the dust bunnies.

Picture0407180635_1.jpgmany little piles like this are drifting around my backyard

Somebody also once told me birds like dryer lint to make their nests soft and comfy. “Won’t they object to the human smell of it?” Silly me.

Picture0407180636_1.jpgdryer lint stuffed in the notches of a crape myrtle

Birds don’t much notice a human smell apparently. So when people find baby birds out of their nests and thoughtfully replace them the babies won’t actually be abandoned. This is good to know. Besides which, when babies are out of their nests they generally have not fallen but are fledging and learning to fly. The parents know exactly where they are and are watching.

I know this from experience. My dad also had an English setter when I was little. She was too smart to actually be a hunting dog (you can fetch those dead feathers yourself, she’d often say, so my dad said), but one spring she did find and eat a baby mockingbird out of its nest. From that point on I understood the word vendetta very well. That mockingbird pair would sit in a nearby tree limb waiting for Runt every morning when she’d be let out for her daily ablutions. As soon as she appeared the birds would dive-bomb her, forcing her to race from the back steps to under Dad’s old buick, from there into the unsafe open garage. Somehow she would accomplish what she needed to do then dash back into the house, hoping someone was standing with the backdoor open and not leave her vulnerable to the assaults of angry birds.

Mockingbird-2016011615.png

Dad loved mockingbirds. He claimed their song was the most beautiful song of all birds. I once challenged him that they really did not have a song of their own, they could only copy other birds’ songs. “Oh no,” he said. “You have to listen carefully to hear it, if you are fortunate enough, you will.”

I do not believe I ever saw Runt (or any other dog) eat another baby bird.

 

“He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.”   –Psalm 91:4