LIFE’S COLORFUL REWARDS

A visitor with time on my hands for a week, pondering how to start in words, my attention is drawn to the back yard. A  gray and white cat just sauntered past the atrium, apparently seeing nothing of particular interest–not even squirrels and birds.Dozens and dozens of North American songbirds fly on and off ignoring the feline passer-by and I look up from my tablet in time to catch the brilliant male cardinal decorating one of several glass-domed bird feeders, He has come not to eat, but  to be seen. I am reminded of a special moment last week in my own back yard–minus bird feeders–when the neighborhood/resident redbird freshened up briefly in my mock-orange-sheltered birdbath. I never catch him or his mate on camera, ‘tho I’ve tried. My cooperative, surprising and amusing substitute for the real thing popped into my view from the window over my kitchen sink like “Yoo hoo! Look at me!”  One late-blooming cardinal-red gladiola peeked between mounds of snow-white clematis vines. This photo’s sure to grace my 2014 Flower Photo book

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                                              Surprise!                      .

 Some of my garden beauties provide perpetual pleasure for me year after year for having found friendly soil. My younger son, Michael, birthed my patio garden in the same years as my older daughter, Elizabeth (Beth) birthed her girl-child, Laura. So now, twenty-seven years in October, Candytuft, Nicotiana, and Cleome have flourished wherever their dried brown seeds have fallen. And guests with envelopes of take-home seeds will propogate the pleasure. Hopefully, they too, will enjoy perfect evenings when subtle breezes at dusk will carry the spicy-sweet perfume to other happy, non-allergic noses.

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Nicotiana

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Cleome

Always the lavender Fall Crocus shoots up when I’ve given up staring at its location in anticipation. I planted the original–a resident squirrel relocated a bulb to make twin bouquets. I have yet to see the newer white ones, Maybe a critter had them for a treat. I can’t ever anticipate either color like the early spring lovlies, for the unique, huge Fall Crocuses have no leaves.

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Original version

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Squirrel twin version

One of my favorite seasons, fall, is definitely in the air, but my patio pots have not yet felt the message. And already, while still watering and admiring the riotous blossoms, I pluck the drying seeds, tuck them back into the pots, and THINK SPRING! Works for me. Yes, my mantra’s HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL, but I’m not averse to helping HOPE while saving the green ($).

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The dainty contrast to petunias–name does not trip lightly over my tongue. I found Calibrachoa typed on a plastic pick in last summer’s pot.

In spite of feeling another major family loss this fall, life goes on. I’m thinking if we fail to “stop and smell the roses,” we will lose out on the life we have. And miss its simple, colorful day-to-day rewards. Catching Tuesday’s colorful farewell in these 65-mile-per-hour smart phone shots put a song in my heart. Carpe diem!  It’s all we can count on.

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Old Glory-like “. . . spacious skies”

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“Three cheers for the red,white, & blue. . .”

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No Limit to Weeds and Wonders

It’s no wonder I can’t scrub the stain from under my nails. I’ve improved the soil here over the years till its almost dark as coffee—black, no cream. And every spring/summer day I’m in awe of how the weeds just eat it up. Somehow weed-pulling in earnest feels easiest when done with bare hands—no thought for lady-like nails.
Yesterday I pulled the mother-of-wild-onions. No intent toward competition like mine’s bigger than yours, I actually measured it: thirty-six inches from about-to-flower top to bulbous root and strings. Wild onions are easiest rooted out when ignored till tall and tough. I couldn’t ignore handfuls of healthy almost-seeded others where weeds had been snatched only a day earlier—and days and months before. I wonder what possessed me to glance Heavenward and think “Thank you for watering my gardens.” Had I forgotten? Weeds flourish among the flowers– especially when well-watered.

Still, the daily eye-popping surprises are wondrous–many old faithful friends (some passed down through generations of care) and some, 2013 fall’s new plantings. My lavender clematis (proper name of which escapes me)—way clingier and climbing than last year, flaunted several blossoms instead of only one. Then another clematis crept in under the bank of vines sprawling the length of the patio railing and there it lay—in single-blossom purple glory on the concrete floor! Pretty as a picture.

 

Sneaky Clematis
Sneaky Clematis

The old rose we planted twenty-three years ago (in honor of our 40th wedding anniversary) surprised me in June as I had thought it a goner. One perfect hot-pink blossom, when full out, defied the support of its spindly stem. So I cut it for indoor display, stuck it in a skinny crystal bud vase and supported it with Mock Orange sprigs from the old faithful bush my dad (Thanks, Pop!) had rooted for my yard—a heritage from my childhood home. Setting the fragrant bouquet down, I could not refrain from bursting forth a snatch of the tune my husband always sang to me when I could not, for the life of me, recall the rose’s name: “Unforgettable . . . that’s what you are . . .” I’ve wondered how that stuck in the mind of a man who admittedly didn’t know begonia from verbena. But my music-man, wonder-of-wonders, always had it on the tip of his baritone tongue.

Unforgettable Rose
Unforgettable Rose
Unforgettable Bouquet
Unforgettable Bouquet

Today I took him a small pot with two—almost three—red Gerbera Daisies in bloom. Minus a few weeds, a temporary enhancement to his red/white/ & blue mini garden. Mini red and white roses already in full bloom grace our memorial site—perfect timing to honor the dear deceased patriot—lovable/loving/UNFORGETTABLE father of my children. Bless us one and all!

Memorial Garden
Memorial Garden
Daisies For Dad
Daisies For Dad