interludes

I have lived with daylight savings time all my life and have never gotten used to it. By the time it goes back to standard time I have simply learned to go from day to day with one less hours’ sleep.

I really don’t like it.

I can remember my father returning home Fridays after his week’s commute to New York setting his watch because the time was different there in summer. You’d have thought I’d have more interesting memories than watching my father set his watch, but I doted on him. Since he was gone every week he was the magic parent. He was not home enough to be ordinary so I’d carefully watch and listen to everything about him.

Except when I had ponies.

I never caught the tennis bug or the golf bug or the tanning bug. So summers, except when I had a good book to read or went to a friends’ house or a movie, weren’t too exciting. Oh, I loved the freedom like any kid. No school, no early mornings, I went barefoot and wore shorts and t-shirts every day. But the summers of the ponies were transportive.

I learned about these ponies from a neighborhood friend. Mr. Robinson had all these ponies and he rented them, if a family had an appropriate place to care for them, enough yard, a place for shelter. Our house where I grew up had a detached 2-car garage. We only used one side for a car, the other side housed the lawn mower and various other dusty items that kind of blended into the grey-brown of the inside of the garage. Next to that was an old but sturdy chicken coop, complete with surrounding small fence. It was fine, Mr. Robinson said. So he brought  my first rented pony named Claudia, a couple of bales of hay and a bridle. No saddle, just bareback.

I found some other neighborhood girls who rented ponies at the same time and we rode all over the place. These ponies weren’t shod so we were careful to keep them on the grass. This was true freedom.

So every summer for I guess 5 or 6 years one or two weeks I rented one of these ponies. I never met one I didn’t like, or more to the point, that did not like me. Ponies can be mean little creatures if they take a dislike to you. My brother came to the elementary school playground across from our house where we all mostly rode. It was about 4 acres of wide open space. He wanted to try riding, he said. I slid off and handed him the reins. He looked at me. So we walked the pony over to the concrete picnic tables where he could give himself a leg up. On he went. Something about this the pony did not like.

Off went the pony. Fast. And off went my brother, right in the dirt. I probably should have given him a few tips on how to ride but I figured he’d watched us enough and figured it out. He hadn’t, on top of which he’d had the wind knocked out of him. So I had to stop first and make sure he’d be ok.

The thing about ponies is when they start running if nobody’s riding they don’t stop. So having the assurance my brother would live and somehow not find a way to get Mom after me for his injuries, gritting my teeth I took off. Last I’d seen she rounded the side of the school to the front of the building. Right after that would be a street. Not a highly traveled one, but still.

I pumped around to the front of the school to find her there on the lawn, calmly grazing. So relieved I nearly cried, I slowly walked up so as not to spook her off again and gently picked up her reins. Crisis averted.

There were 4 or 5 of those ponies that were my favorites… Claudia was the first, Vera (she shared more than one summer with us), a little strawberry roan named Peaches… Peaches I got two weeks one year, for the price of one. Mr. Robinson liked the way we cared for those ponies, and she’d gained a little weight…

Fun times.

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vignettes

Colder, wetter weather is said to be coming this way soon so this morning, though much cooler, I bundled rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and myself into the car around 6:15. It usually takes 10-15 minutes to drive the 7-8 miles to the beach but this morning there was no traffic and the lights were with us so we arrived a few minutes before the sun broke over the horizon.

There were the usual ragged groupings of people– college students standing rigid with arms deep in their jacket pockets stamping against the cold impatient for the sun to appear, 2 or 3 people huddled under blankets or beach towels on benches and scattered across the beach and a few others.

Just as the sun sparkled over the water I heard a tiny >shriek!< to my left. Pretty sure it was someone excited the sun appeared and now they could go get someplace warm I looked over to see a young man down on one knee, holding a small glittering box in his hands and a young girl in front of him (the one who shrieked) now beginning to sob. I felt a bit embarrassed witnessing such a private moment until I saw a lady not far videoing it with her phone. A friend, capturing the moment for posterity (or youtube).

We walked on a ways. A young man with an elderly dog at his feet. The person, taking pictures of the sunrise and completely ignoring his faithful friend below. The dog took no notice of my lovely two and almost with a visible sigh walked back a few paces, picked up his ball-throwing toy and dropped it at his person’s feet. Waiting patiently.

We moved on. The tide had just turned so a few rogue waves were still pushing their way up over the tide mark, making their impression before the full moon caused them to relinquish the surge. Enough though to wet our feet and cause us to dance up onto drier sand.

A few joggers, one or two braving the morning chill from the island hotels. As the days move on more and more return.

After about a half hour or so of walking, Lily, characteristic of her willful self, reached up and grabbed the leash from my hand with her teeth as if to say, “Ok, I’ve got this, let’s go!” and bounced the other way back toward the car.

The happy couple had disappeared, as had the college students and other odd groupings. A few more runners, a shell seeker or two.

A very special morning had broken.

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Logging

Where we used to live there was some undeveloped property within my subdivision that belonged to the local electric company. There were those gargantuan electricity towers, but a lot of it was woods and some of the locals who had ATVs drove all through there creating these very convenient wide trails where husky-mix rescue dog Lily and I would spend hours walking. So when we moved east we were so happy to find not far a large farm that had been converted to a farm animal rescue and land trust, with wooded trails, a mill pond and a beautiful pine thicket.

Picture0211171520_1.jpg   –farm                               Picture0211171522_1.jpg –trail

 

A year ago we adopted Lulu, terrier-mix rescue dog who enjoys these walks also. The most wonderful thing about this is it’s 62 acres with various levels of walking trails, the longest being about 2 miles, and friendly dogs can go off-leash. We really enjoy these walks and the other dogs and their persons, too. Occasionally we meet a dog that really needs to be on the leash but I guess friendly is in the eyes of the beholder.

So it did not surprise me when we saw a sign noting there would be logging back in the pines. I would imagine there needs to be some sort of hefty revenue to keep up all those farm animals. They have everything from pigs to sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, chickens, ducks and they used to have a cow but I don’t know about that now. Anyway, that’s what I figured, why they were taking some of these trees down to help pay for all these animals’ upkeep, but someone else told me, no, they had a CO2 agreement where they were required to thin the trees to allow other trees to grow bigger. Makes no sense to me, taking out some trees with a canopy to allow other trees’ canopies to grow bigger but anyway, they came this week and basically clear-cut this forest…

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So now it won’t be quite as shady, but the mill pond is still there to cool our feet/paws in–

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The most wonderful time of the year

It almost spoils it when Christmas stuff starts showing up in stores and people’s front yards the first of November– those funny one-dimensional wooden deer with red bows or wreaths around their necks, and the blooming cactus, baby Norfolk Island pines, amaryllis, poinsettias and decorations all over the stores. Usually the funny, larger-than-life snow globes don’t appear till later, or the inflatable carousels that even play music.

But it doesn’t quite ruin it really, not for me.

Maybe my brain tunes it all out. Maybe I just don’t process it as present-day. Maybe I pass it through a “by-gone” filter so as not to spoil the sweet joy of the advent of a time so timeless that it truly does stay in my heart all year (well, most of the year). Or maybe I realize that’s just how some people open up to what is happening in an over-the-top kind of way.

Since I was a little girl I have loved this time of year and not for presents. People always seemed kinder, happier. People looked forward to something, something they were excited about celebrating. As if something so long-awaited, something that would make everything better, brighter was going to happen. And many of us were anticipating the same thing but even if we weren’t there was an inescapable aura that touched everybody.

My family would have Christmas Eve dinner. One year we piled in the car not only to go see all the houses decorated with lights and candles and wreaths but stopped to visit friends and wish them joy. Then we’d go to our church’s Christmas Eve service.

This was the best part, for me. Almost better than Christmas morning which nearly always got lost in the tinsel, wrappings and bows.

This was the moment. This was the excitement, the anticipation of something so wonderful, so vibrant and alive with hope and love that I have never forgotten how it felt. Singing out those beautiful carols, listening to the lovely prayers, the soft glow of candles and the ageless Bible story of the miraculous birth, a story that never got old.

No matter where my family lived, no matter what we were going through. Something about Christmas transcended our ills, our arguments, our differences, our angers, our disappointments. And more often than not after Christmas day we found we had moved on beyond whatever it was that had got us hung up, stuck.

There was a beauty that touched each one of us. We no longer saw or felt whatever ugliness had our pride reared up in self-righteous rightness against someone or something. It was gone. Disappeared. Vanished. Vanquished in the beauty of Something far greater than anything we harbored.

Advent. The coming of something. The brink of a moment. The event that does not end, is always coming, has never gotten old. Every year.

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Thanks Giving

My mom loved a good party. And she gave some of the best. I can remember being about 5 not a few Sunday mornings waking before anyone else and wandering downstairs to find all the residue from a successful cocktail party– filled ashtrays, empty nut bowls, canape trays stacked in the kitchen sink and martini glasses, some still with an olive, to which I helped myself (maybe that’s why I do not drink alcohol).

I think Mom’s favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. She loved Easter and Christmas, too, but Thanksgiving was when she really pulled out all the stops. She invited anyone and everyone, there was not an empty chair around our food-filled dining room table. Grandparents, neighbors and their children. She loved nothing more than a house stuffed with congenial friends, laughter and good food.

Preparations began very early, my grandmother and mother stuffing and basting the enormous bird, all manner of vegetables, scalloped oysters, and pies. The Macy’s Parade started at 9 and my brother and I were glued to the television until Santa came along, I imagined myself in the freezing cold marching sassily with one of the heart-pumping bands, or cozily wrapped in a thick, warm coat waving from a float, or even maybe hanging onto the ropes of one of those amazing balloons. And the luscious mouth-watering aromas wafting from the kitchen with snippets of “No, I’ll do that, ” or “keep stirring! It’s lumpy if you stop stirring!” or “did you remember the pearl onions in the green beans?”

The guests began arriving, some wandering off to find my dad, my grandfather and company in the den, or striding back to the kitchen catching an apron off the back of the swinging door to see what needed doing. The voices and chatter finally melded into a constant white noise sparkling with laughter, the clatter of dishes and “where’s the gravy boat? I always put it in here…”

Finally everyone was called to the table, ambling amiably, finishing off their drinks and marveling at the heavily-laden side boards. We all stood at our places until everyone arrived, then sat and Dad asked the grace. After his deep, gravelly, “Amen,” chatter and laughter resumed, dishes being passed back and forth with the chink and scrape of silverware on china. At the end we barely could even think of pie, but of course we did more than think of it. Regretfully? No. We did not care at all how full we were. As Dad would say, “A bumble bee could play with me now.”

So this year my family is greatly diminished. Mother and Dad have passed on. My son will be with his girlfriend and her family, my brother’s wife will have her mother and sister, perhaps an additional friend or two. Maybe the two groups will combine, who knows…

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I will watch the Macy’s Parade, eat the two pies I will have made– a (very) small pecan pie and a turkey (maybe chicken?) pot pie, maybe even splurge with home-made crust.

And then we will venture to my favorite place in the world to walk off having over-stuffed ourselves.

The beach.

“A bumblebee could play with me now…”

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Flowers

This was a week of catch-up reading. So many books I’d been wanting to read while involved in the Master Gardening program piled up and I have still got 5 or 6 left to read. At one point I wandered around my yard and potted plants and found many beginning to bloom, so here are a few —

DSCN0171.JPG geranium     DSCN0167.JPG  lily

 

DSCN0164.JPG  phalaenopsis DSCN0165.JPG  more phalaenopsis

 

DSCN0168.JPG knockout rose  DSCN0169.JPG tomato

 

DSCN0172.JPG blurry lizard  DSCN0174.JPG  Lulu hoping to catch blurry lizard

 

DSCN0135.JPG                                                    Lily and Lulu enjoying a backyard stroll

So this was our week and weekend. Next week we will have the yard enclosed so I can keep Lulu out of the neighbor’s yards and the street. A couple of days’ volunteering at the plant clinic at the Arboretum to knock off a few service hours. More books read, more books on hold at the library coming in, I hope.

I truly wish you a grand and delightfully surprising coming week.

Wheels

So the weather here is like any beach town in summer. Hot. But this kind of hot at times I have no words for. 85 degrees at 5 in the morning is not normal, I don’t care how close to the equator you are. 110 is a number I only think of in terms of what I weighed in the ninth grade. Lily, my husky-mix rescue dog does not tolerate this weather. I don’t either, much.

Lily formerly enjoyed early morning runs/walks on a shady greenway, about 5 miles of a morning no matter what time of year. Since we can’t do that here she goes about half that distance, both walks of the day combined. Me, I need to move a bit more so I unearthed a bicycle I bought once upon a time when I lived in the land of Florida. This bike has no frills. It has 2 wheels, a seat, chain, pedals, handlebars and foot brakes. That’s it. No bells, whistles, gears, lights, nothing that I can’t fix (I hope). It’s more work but the trade off is better with lower maintenance. My kind of life.

So I ride up to a park a couple of miles from my house where Lily and I often walk, praying at the blind curves, staying as far over by the curbing as possible. The distance around the pond at this park I am told is about 1-1/4 miles. I try for at least 3 times around, sometimes more, occasionally less but if I go 3 I know I’ve done between 5-10 miles round trip.

No helmet. Sometimes a hat.

Interesting what you notice when you are not in a car. The butterflies that whiz by, over, around me. The occasional snake that pops its head up periscope-like to see if the coast is clear only to duck back into the tall grass, seeing me bearing down. If an osprey flies over I can stop to watch it until it is out of sight. A lizard skittering by the pathway.

And always that lovely breeze created by pedal propulsion.

The end of time

When I was little daylight savings time was such a gift. Hours of day stretched out before me through the summer. Days my friends and I played kick-the-can till everything was grainy-gray or till a parent yelled out the back screen door to come in, “Now!” Days we could watch lightning bugs twinkle in the evening shadows, soft summer winds playing with our hair.

I look forward now to the day each fall when I get that hour back. Somehow now, when that clock hand turns back in spring all I can think of is when I rise at 5 or 5:30 in the morning it’s really 4:30, and when I go to sleep it’s only 8. But the last night of dst brings a restful slumber, partly because I sleep much better in cold and by now our temps are playing with the 30 degree range. Also because I know that when I wake up next morning and look at the clock and I see 6 a.m. it really is 6 a.m., not 5.

Maybe it’s something to do with being honest about things and I really don’t like pretending, even about something as neutral as whatever hour it is or if it’s day or night. People who travel a lot must not be bothered at all by this because wherever they go the time is vastly different from wherever they left, depending on where they go or where they live. Say I went to Israel. Well, being on the US east coast, it’s 7 hours’ difference, ahead of me. Or Alaska? Four hours earlier, 5 in some parts. And Arizona does not observe daylight savings time at all. My business used to deal with a small company there, near Flagstaff and on one occasion I asked the young woman I spoke with over the phone about it. She laughed.

“Honey, we don’t need any more daylight out here!”

It’s only May but it feels like summer is here

Did I miss Spring? Something so all-consuming, the pain of my Murphy loss and I missed an entire section of a year?

The greening of a lawn… tiny miniatures of oak leaves, silvery-shining in their infancy as trees awaken. A luna moth drops from its chrysalis onto a forgotten splice of driveway, warming its wrinkly, vermilion gold wings into sun-strength.

Peeper frogs give procession to the dawning chorus of birdsong as sun defrosts a newly soft earth. Spiderlings take flight on tiny gossamer parachutes from their newly-hatched egg-webs. A succulent smell of honey suckle streams into the air lifting early springlike nuance and burgeoning trees lazily fill the blue sky gaps with growing leaves. Once-sparse ground white snows of clover blossoms and leaves, vinings and tendrils stretching their sleepy stems across the forest floor. Dandelions and daffodils nodding bright cheer from the sun. Gentle rains puddling drops to hibernate-thirsty roots and swelling streams.

And finches, red-wine dipped color over their lovely faces and throats, the hummers buzzing again, squeaking territorial disputed life. Tiger swallowtails, flitting aimlessly, flaunting delicate yellow streaks with black, boldly circling the new air.

Yes, this year I saw.

Time

We all have numbered days, so we are told. We don’t know what they are, God does, but we waste what we have so flagrantly as a derelict prince with riches that are not his. We say when we are old or unwell that we live on borrowed time. Whose time is it if not our own? If we are still here then it is still our time.

Since I stopped working at a job a few years ago I stopped wearing a watch. This was a clear indication to me that my measurement of time by my watch was such that I would keep to someone else’s time, not my own. Yet who else do we keep time for? Our employers, if we are a guest at a friend’s or an inn for whatever schedule is theirs. But when it does not matter to us what time it is, then we simplify our time to day or night. Or further broken down to morning, afternoon, evening, overnight. We have time to read, to laugh, to listen, to tell, to hope, to think, to create, to rest, to play, to eat, to share, to become ill, to become well. To live.

We speak of the fullness of time, time that has its realization in its own truth where it has been so well spent that we are satisfied, happy, as after a good meal or a happy time with our families or a friend. It is also when something long awaited has finally come and we are not disappointed. Its realization, this event, or its fullness has consumed and filled us so completely as to bring us to that point of completeness, joy and grace that we have grateful memory of it for all our lives.

Time was important to my father. He did not waste it. He kept himself busy, whether in his workshop or at his business, or vacationing, or even just in thought. Whatever he did he did it so completely that he left no question that there was nothing missing or left out or forgotten. The flight of time did not escape him. He rode its magic his entire life.

I have an old kitchen clock that had belonged to my dad. I have had it repaired twice and the second time the chime simply stopped working. It was a loud chime so for a while I missed its waking me in the night, faithfully alerting me to the wee morning hours… 2 chimes, then 3 and so on as though by sleeping I was missing the most important time. When it stopped I decided it had relented to the meager human need to restore oneself with sleep and am grateful. Still, its loud tick-tock during the day breaks occasionally into my thoughts or activities and I am glad it reminds me to keep pace, not lose time or be wasteful. Dad might be pleased of this.

Think not thy time short in this world, since the world itself is not long. The created world is but a small parenthesis in eternity, and a short interposition, for a time, between such a state of duration as was before it and may be after it.
        Sir Thomas Browne—Christian Morals. Pt. III. XXIX.