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Perfectly Sweet

Some nights are so perfectly sweet that the only music one needs is the melodious flow of a meandering creek and a simple supper at waters’ edge.

DSCN5469So it was on Friday night. We were perched on director’s chairs at a coveted outcropping of rock near the old gristmill at Fullersburg Woods.  We dined al fresco on a simple dinner of turkey, brie and apple sandwiches, rounded out with a fresh fruit salad.

Two children frolicked around us, under the watchful eyes of their grandparents, as they climbed the rocks and fallen logs.

A wedding party was gathered behind us, the bride in a sari and crown of the most brilliant of colors, mimicking the seasonal jewelweed that bloomed along the forest path, her attendant standing nearby in a striking red gown.

As we ate, under the canopy of ancient maples and oaks, a Black Crowned Night Heron emerged from the stream below. He posed for a time on a branch at the waterfall, perhaps DSCN5463looking for a meal of his own before swooping majestically across the creek to a podium he claimed his own.

A simple supper.

The setting sun.

A perfectly sweet night all our own.

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Little Free Library

DSCN5440These cute little boxes on posts seem to be sprouting up around here like daisies in sunshine. In the past week or so, I have noticed four. I finally just had to park my car, get out, and see what they were all about.

Sure glad I did!

I turned off the car, crossed the street, and peeked into the box; a box of books!  There was a little hook to lift and a door opened, with an invitation inside  to take a book, return it with another. Adult books and children’s  books, there for the taking. I was as giddy as Charlie Bucket holding his golden ticket.

Leapt. I leapt across the street and opened my trunk, where a bag sat, bursting, with books I was planning to donate to Goodwill. I rummaged around and took out a Miss Dimple I was going to pass on, deciding, on the spot to donate it instead to this Little Free Library. I leapt back across the street, where I perused the selection. A few cars passed, unfettered by my leaping on this bookish corner as I once again opened the door, took out my selection, an as yet unread Maisie Dobbs, and replacing it with Miss Dimple. DSCN5441

Home again, I did some online investigating, finding the Little Free Library website, which you can visit here.

What a fabulous idea and a way to not only enjoy books, but, to foster literacy. There is a quaintness about this idea of sharing books in a clever and attractive way with your neighbors and passers-by. Of course, you can buy plans and kits to make your own little library, and you can officially register it and get one of these very nice markers – or, you can make one on your own.  The Little Free Library is an interesting enterprise that seems to be growing.

I wonder if Tom can build one to look like the arbor. Have you seen one?

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DT4972One of my summertime reads has been “Clara and Mr. Tiffany” by Susan Vreeland.  It is our book discussion group’s choice for the September meeting and has been a pleasant diversion for me on these August afternoons as I follow Clara Driscoll, recently  acknowledged as one of the designers for Louis Comfort Tiffany. While this is a fictional account, the reader meets historical figures as well as a colorful array of imagined characters along with amazing details surrounding the inception of Tiffany stained glass, and the process of working with stained glass; from the male glass blowers to the cadre of single women, many immigrant daughters of New York City at the turn of the century, who artfully assemble the glass.

In a delightful passage,  Clara describes a scene beginning at the beach while on a brief holiday with friends in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. The women “put on our scanty bathing costumes” with “nothing around our calves but air!” as they wade in the ocean then take a walk, discovering Queen Anne’s lace.  Clara describes the flowers as “Cluster of tiny white flowers grew out from a single point on the stalk like a burst of fireworks”. The wild carrots remind one woman of lace, another of dandelions, and seeds of ideas sprout in Clara’s mind for Tiffany candlesticks.

I read a bit more, then put down the book, life calling me to some household chore. The scene, however, lingered in my thoughts as my day wore on. Later, I employed Mr. Google and found, in the verdant pasture of the internet, this most extraordinary piece of jewelry pictured here – Queen Anne’s Lace by Tiffany. It is a “hair ornament”, a fitting accessory for the start of a century that would prove to be as turbulent at it was innovative and exciting.

The source of this image can be found here, with some written detail as to the gems used. You MUST click on the cluster of gems for a closer look at not only the jewels, but the enameling as well, and to see the little flowers and the garnets of bursting “fireworks” in the center.

At 3 1/2 inches, I cannot imagine wearing this as a hair ornament, but, as a lover of brooches and pins, I am sure I could find the perfect place to adorn a jacket or dress with this plucking of Queen Anne’s Lace.

Isn’t it amazing how these small pleasures in life often emerge via literature  – Call on a summer’s day?

 

Fern Gully

24Clippers in hand, I made my way down the drive to the patch of August Lily hostas. They had bloomed with heavenly fragrance for several weeks, the tall, white spikes attracting bees and showing off in their seasonal splendor.  Now, unattractive spindles of a past life remained. It was time, past time if truth be told, to trim them back, tidy them up, make the large, thick skirted leaves presentable again.

The neighbors were out, a vintage set of wheels emerging off of a trailer. A congregation of teenagers and eager adults reliving their own youth transported the muscle car onto their drive. Trying to be inconspicuous, I moseyed around to the front yard and started clipping the spent stalks from the hostas.

Intent on my work,  I pulled weeds and started tidying up the hostas. There I was, trying to favorably adjust my own vintage posterior in a pseudo plie′, snip snipping away, until I suddenly found myself in a clump.  There I was, indelicately on my moon shaped bottom with my cabbage-like face looking out from amongst the hosta leaves and giant ferns, an antique Cabbage Patch Kid, lost in a fern gully.

Yep. They saw me, I’m sure, for the giggles and snorts had nothing to do with the muscle car being revved up a few decibels louder than my own laughter.

Tiny moments

DSCN5402I just came in from watering and weeding and watching. It is serious work – for there I stood, with a hose that was leaking in several spots onto the driveway, the grass, and me. Snippers and garden knife in one hand, leaking water wand in the other, I decided what I really needed was a cup of coffee. I set a slow drip on the roses, went in for a cup of Joe, snatched a few molasses cookies, and settled myself on a bench in the arbor.

As I sipped and dunked my cookie (are you a dunker?), I could hear a hawk screeching above, his majestic wingspan just visible over the canopy of trees. Mama Robin swept in and out of a branch where I could see her nest of babies peeking up for morsels. The wrens chattered as they tended to their own – in the bluebird house. Then, in the brush next door, I could make out the form of a doe. She was pulling down branches for a morning treat, then, she walked past me, amazingly unaware of my presence. She moseyed past the grassy knoll and went on her way, perhaps to check on the twin fawns.

It is these tiny moments in the vastness of time that bring me joy. I fret about the weeds, the weather, the work, but it is these brief passages that bring poetry into my life and this little retreat that gives me time to reflect.

This arbor, commonly called Penny’s Arbor House, was designed and constructed by Tom,. It has grown into a refuge as it softens the space between the lawn and the house, which is hard blacktop.

grass-areamayThe arbor was envisioned long before we started the grassy knoll. Indeed, it was while sitting in the arbor that the idea was hatched to attempt a prairie garden. A space was marked, soil was turned, and a few plants were slipped into the soil, and a garden slowly emerged.  This photo was taken in the early summer of 2013.

Over the past year, through the generous cuttings and divisions of friends and through amazing opportunities, our vision of a bit of a prairie grew into a reality.

One of my oldest friends, Phyllis, shared grasses and clematis, that latter of which is currently clambering up the arbor and will burst forth in white blooms later in the season. Phyllis and I have been friends since high school. I don’t think either of us thought, way back when, that we would one day be granny gardeners.

Dear Jan has shared tall grasses and other plants that have enhanced our landscape dramatically, turning our eyes upward and outward as they have filled not only this grassy knoll just beyond the arbor, but, are holding court further back as well, training our eyes away from the expressway that passes us by.

Right now, the bee balm are in favor, along with Joe Pye weed shared from the herb garden in Elmhurst as plans were underway for the refurbished  conservatory.  Other plants are coming into their own – and I can’t wait to see what they are. Surprises abound in our garden – gifts yet to be enjoyed.

We have a long way to go with this project; a gate and some edging or fencing to define the space and help cut down on weeds. We keep talking, my Antler Man and me, sitting in the arbor, dreaming. A fire pit is planned and a desire to use what we have on hand to contain the space. In-the-meantime, ’tis good to have a spot to sit and watch the tiny moments of life pass by.

Here are a few photos of the grassy knoll/prairie garden right now. If you click onto the photos, especially those of the grasses, you will see much more. DSCN5392

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Our inner child

William Glackens The Soda Fountain1-2-324-25-ExplorePAHistory-a0b1n0-a_349The musical tunes of an ice cream truck coming down the street still gives me the urge to run inside for pocket change and the promise of a Good Humor Bar. Long lines at Dairy Queen bring back fond memories of my dad and our ice cream summer; the year he took us out every Saturday night, to a different place each week, for ice cream. The first of the Saturdays was my introduction to a chocolate dipped ice cream cone.

The other day, running errands and dosed with decongestants and antibiotics, I stopped at the local MacDonald’s for something to quench my thirst. A carbonated soda. I know. I know. They aren’t good for me, but, at $1, any size, a diet Coke was ordered at the drive-up window. Soda in hand, I pulled into a parking space to unleash the papered straw. As I backed out of the space, I glanced at the cherry red economy car parked next to me. The window was rolled down and there, inside, sat two very intense girls, neither a day younger than 80. Their perfectly coifed hair was as white as the ice cream cones they were eagerly licking. These were women on a mission. I watched them engaged in what looked like pure girlish bliss, not a word between them for all I could tell, as they tackled their 49 cent cones, and I’ll just bet they had a pact not to tell a soul what they had been up do.

I wonder what it is about ice cream that brings out the child in us?

Queen Anne

DSCN5240Queen-Anne’s Lace

William Carlos Williams

Her body is not so white as

anemony petals nor so smooth – nor

so remote a thing. It is a field

of the wild carrot taking

the field by force; the grass

does not raise above it. 

Here is no question of whiteness, 

white as can be, with a purple moleDSCN5245

at the center of each flower.

Each flower is a hand’s span

of her whiteness. Wherever

his hand has lain there is

a tiny purple blemish. Each part

is a blossom under his touch

to which the fibres of her being

stem one by one, each to its end,

until the whole field is aDSCN5152

white desire, empty, a single stem,

a cluster, flower by flower,

a pious wish to whiteness gone over -

or nothing. 

 

 

 

 

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