Feeds:
Posts
Comments

On being fortunate

How fortunate I was to have had these trusty engines stowed safely behind the driver’s seat. They kept me company and pushed me forward as I chug, chug, chugged along on my long ride home past farmland and forests, mists and moisture, sunshine and shadows in the peaks and valleys of landscape. At times it felt as if I had been dropped into a bowl of candy corn, the panorama of fall colors following me with views I never tire of.

While our Up North family has graciously travelled down several times in the past year, I have not had the opportunity to visit them until recently. Packed with pumpkin muffins and assorted granny goodies, I was anxious for a few precious days. I wasn’t disappointed.

One fine day, we spent a delightful afternoon on an island.

Nicolette Island is located on the Mississippi River which flows through Minneapolis. The island houses restored Victorian dwellings, De Lasalle High School, the Nicolette Island Park, an impressive pavilion, the Bell of Two Friends, the Nicolette Island Inn, and winding paths that afford amazing scenery and opportunities for young ones to explore, pretend, and appreciate nature. Our daughter and son-in-law, Katy and Tom, have instilled a healthy appreciation and respect for nature in their children and are to be commended for their efforts and example.

 

As we approached the Bell of Two Friends, we giggled a bit as the backside looked a bit like, well, like a backside. Once we went under and around the sculpture we were amazed at this stunning monument of peace.

Fall had come to Nicolette Island on what was a crisp, overcast day, displaying colorful splendor on this lovely island.

 

 

We walked and wandered, St. Anthony Falls and industry sharing the space, before crossing back into downtown Minneapolis and Penny’s Cafe.

 


The chef made our crepes on a large, heated wheel, across from the table we chose to sit. We all watched in awe as he balanced the orders, spreading crepe batter on the wheel, filling and folding, making sandwiches and other delectables on another slab to his right.

I chose a crepe fromage, which exceeded expectations! It was outstanding. Ezra, who chose what the woman who took our orders described as special, wholeheartedly agreed, saying it was special, as he energetically tackled his grilled cheese sandwich. Kezzie’s little stuffed fawn, stuffed in his special way, snuggled for warmth next to Katy’s coffee as we all enjoyed the food and the ambiance of Penny’s Cafe.

What a balm for the soul this little adventure was, with an attentive and caring mommy, two darling, inquisitive grandkids, nature and even nourishment in an establishment bearing my name. There were so many other moments of joy during my brief  trip; too many to mention in an already long post. I was grateful for my time with our Up North family and appreciate Ezra’s sharing of his engines as I wended my way home.

Advertisements

October 10

October 10

Now constantly there is the sound,
quieter than rain,
of the leaves falling.

Under their loosening bright
gold, the sycamore limbs
bleach whiter.

Now the only flowers
are beeweed and aster, spray
of their white and lavender
over the brown leaves.

The calling of a crow sounds
Loud — landmark — now
that the life of summer falls
silent, and the nights grow.

From  New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry

Plop

It sounded like a raindrop.

Plop.

The rusty colored grasses and spent blooms danced in the sun-dried breeze.

Plop.

The cloudless sky’s likeness reflected on the water of the expansive slough which had receded considerably from its banks during the long dry spell.

Plop.

The distinctive smell of rain, petrichor, was non-existent; the earth dry as a bone. We needed rain.

Plop.

 Then there it was,  the gentle folding of a stem, a leaf, a flower gone to seed.

Plop.

It was the weight of grasshoppers landing on the leaves and stems and faded flower past their prime that were making the sound; a prelude to Autumn’s splendor.

I sat on a bench for a bit, listening to this primal sound of nature. I never heard it before – or had I forgotten what I heard? I remembered catching grasshoppers as a child, wondering if it was really tar that grasshoppers ejected, but, not this sound. The simple pleasure of discovery on an October afternoon.

As I rested on the bench, I continued to hear the plop, plop, plop of grasshoppers. I thought of the plague of grasshoppers that wiped out all of Pa’s wheat in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, “By the Shores of Plum Creek”.  The grasshoppers, which were actually Rocky Mountain locusts, first appeared as a black cloud on the horizon. They dropped down and decimated the Ingalls’ crops and neighbors’ crops, destroying all of that year’s wheat harvest. Then, they laid eggs which meant more grasshoppers the next spring. They destroyed the following year’s crops. To make matters worse, the grasshoppers flew into the little house, down the chimney, through cracks in the chinking, covering the floor, clothing, everything. A natural disaster, for certain, and one I would not want to experience.

I arose and continued on my walk. Yellow finch flitted past, here and there with their distinctive, dipping flight pattern, darts of golden energy. Bees hummed on their nectar finding missions and a flock of geese came in for a landing, honking like harried cab drivers in the Loop. Geese never arrive unannounced, unlike the great blue heron that swooped in without a sound and landed on the reedy shore.

My walk ended, but not my amazement as I noticed that the maples were starting to turn color. I held the hope in my heart that we just might have a colorful fall after all.

Plop!

 

 

 

Once Upon a Walk

Once upon a little walk – okay, it was just the other day, not once upon a time. I’m just in a lyrical, fairy tale spinning sort of mood. Bear with me – and no, there are no bears in this tale, but, there is a little Goldilocks.

Whilst wandering about with a purpose to the post office, grocer, library and such, I turned off the noise of the news on the car radio and turned into one of the forest preserves near here. I needed to clear my head, work a few things out and flit about with the bees, the butterflies, the falling leaves and my thoughts.

I usually veer to the left to loop around the particular path I was on, but, this was the sort of day that dictated a change in course. I veered to the right instead. It was unseasonably hot and quite humid as the temperature loomed toward 90 degrees. Goldfinch hosted a seed gathering orgy and grasshoppers leaped about in an erratic fashion for reasons known only to them. Pollinators of all stripes, hues and shapes imbibed on the nectar of zinnias, asters, and goldenrod.

As I reached a bend in the path, the tall, late season flowers and grasses towered over me, and I heard the sound of youthful laughter. Momentarily, a young girl and her granny appeared. The child looked up at me, I smiled. In a sweet, childish voice she asked “what’s your name?”. “My name is Penny. Thank you for asking.” She bounced around in a Tigger-ish sort of way as her grandmother said “Why don’t you tell this nice lady your name?”  “My name is Violet” said my new, young friendI squealed, as I tend to do, and said “Violet was my mother’s name. There were many people who said she was Sweet Violet – and she was!“. “Oh” said my new friend “I am sweet, too” – and she was!

Young Violet skipped down the path in the direction from which I just came. Her granny followed her and smiled as grannies do when out for a walk with a grandchild.

I smiled as well, thinking of my own grandkids with the hope of an upcoming visit. My thoughts turned to my mom, missing her. I realized, just then, that I had just received an unanticipated gift on this once upon a little walk. The gift was Ma’s name, Violet, uttered from a sweet child. It brought a moment of clarity to the thoughts in my head as I returned to my car and headed home.

The End.

Words that take us along our paths

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.
~ E.B. White

One such day, which was already planned, was not a particularly seductive one, but, it was a challenging one filled with the usual chores, responsibilities, and the this-and-that of life to attend to. There was someone to visit and a stop at the vegetable/fruit market before returning home where I set about preparations for our supper.

While the chicken was marinating, I checked my emails, my blog comments and your posts, then suddenly realized that there was a lecture I had hoped to attend; The Pen and the Trowel with Marta McDowell. When I first read about it, the lecture sounded interesting and the name of the speaker was vaguely familiar. Funny, isn’t it, how life’s tidbits of information marinate as we wander along in life?  I clicked onto the saved informational link, which still sounded interesting, and wondered aloud if I could still attend.

Explore the ways that writing and gardening intertwine with author and speaker, Marta McDowell. For years, McDowell has been occupied with writers who garden, and how their horticultural interests have changed her planting beds as well as her bookshelves. Starting with Mark Twain, and connecting to authors ranging from Henry David Thoreau to Louisa May Alcott, this lecture explores that rich, writing-gardening connection. Instructor: Marta McDowell, author and horticulturist. *

The lecture was at 7pm. It was already 4:30. Could I make it? I scurried about like the little chipmunk who gathered the stuffing out of the pillow on my porch rocker (not the one pictured above). I registered online, changed clothes, made sure all was in place for Tom’s supper and off I went to one of my favorite places, the Morton Arboretum.

I parked in the lot behind the Sterling Morton Library and enjoyed the short walk to its doors. If you have not visited this library you should. Membership to the Arb allows you to check out books but all visitors may enter, browse the stacks of books, learn something from the curated displays and more! The Sterling is, indeed, sterling in its embrace of nature.

Like the seasoned gardener and horticulturist she is, Marta McDowell sowed her words like flower seeds through the garden writings of such notables as Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott and Ralph Waldo Emerson. She shared photos of her own garden’s many transformations after being influenced by the writings of many authors, as well as having visited many of their gardens while researching her several books.

In the course of Ms. McDowell’s lecture, I learned of the friendship between Samuel Clemons and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Stowe would often cross the lawn between their two homes and take plants from his large conservatory. Their neighbor was Charles Warner, who wrote “My Summer in a Garden” (note to self, check this out). She reminded us that before Louisa May Alcott’s  “Little Women” there was “Flower Fables” and that Beatrix Potter used features of her own Lake District home and gardens in her adored illustrations. The web of writers, illustrations, photographs and more cast a spell upon me that made me want to learn more about writers who did, indeed, improve the world while also enjoying it. It also reminded me of the shelves of books I have about gardening; shelves groaning with poetry, essays, literature, and lifestyles and I am filled gratitude for how words and photographs have shepherd me along my own garden paths.

My “aha” moment came when I saw Marta McDowell’s newly released book, and I realized she had authored such books as “All the Presidents’ Gardens”, “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life” and “Emily Dickinson’s Gardens”. It was my dear friend Janet, aka Country Mouse, who recently alerted me to a book giveaway she knew I would be interested in, which I was, and which included some of these books as well as her newest book, “The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder”.

Do you have a favorite gardening writer or author who influenced your garden or your lifestyle?

The link to that giveaway can be found here

Here is a link to Marta McDowell’s lecture schedule. She might be in your area, in case you are interested: http://www.martamcdowell.com/events

*From the Morton Arboretum website.

 

I

have been

chasing sunsets.

Ever since August’s solar eclipse, which cast its spell on random groups of strangers, I have been wandering off our little acreage just before to sunset to bid farewell to the day.

While we reside in a semi-rural area nestled underneath a generous canopy of trees, the windy city’s skyscrapers loom to the east and suburban development rises to the west. We are not in the best of spots for capturing the rising or setting sun.

So it was the other day, with nary a ray of sunshine shining upon on our little prairie, that the Antler Man encouraged me to head down the road in search of the sunset. He reminded me of the many times we’ve driven up the hill only to be blinded by the setting sun as we reached the apex.

Thus encouraged and energized, off I went and sure enough, I was startled by sunlight before making my way around the bend in the road.

I headed over to an unlikely spot on a well-traveled road that the locals frequent. My cell phone app conveniently told me the hour and minute the sun would set, giving me an ETA with ten or fifteen minutes to spare.

There were several cars already parked in the narrow wayside at the Saganashkee Slough. A few fishermen set their lines over the rail while two teenaged girls were having fun with what appeared to be carpool karaoke. I could see them mouthing words, gesticulating and bouncing to music, which I could barely hear (thank goodness) as they politely closed the car’s windows. A serious photographer had what looked like an intricate camera perched on a tripod and other sunset-seekers were sitting on portable directors’ chairs while a few children did what children do – they ran around laughing and shouting and bickering and hugging.

Two boys, around the ages of eight and ten, darted to and fro, stopping to ask “Papa, did you start it?”. “Yes” said Papa, patiently, while another child, a girl, a few years older than the oldest boy read a book in a nearby chair.

I found a spot along the rail, looking toward the descending sun, then turned my back while I engaged my cell phone’s camera.

“Did you set your camera to time-lapse?” a younger voice asked me.

Well, no, I had not, and told the older boy I was just taking photos. He thought I needed to do a time-lapse. I had a few minutes, Papa indicated it was okay, and I was given a mini-lesson in time-lapse photography by a ten year old boy!

I looked across the slough, really a big lake, and told my two new friends that it was time.

“Papa, are you ready?”  He was and I said “There goes the sun. Let’s start counting down from 3, 2, 1!” The sun disappeared as we exclaimed our collective delight. The children’s father thanked me for being nice to his sons and I thanked them all for showing me how to work my camera in a new way. Cars were started, the karaoke kids stopped performing, fishing poles and tripods were dismantled and another day was done.

As I opened the door to my car, the older boy ran up to me and asked if I would come back another time. I told him I would and that I hoped we could all watch another sunset.

There have been other sunsets to chase since then, and there will be more in days to come, but this one sunset gave me a just a few extra rays of hope in this troubled and turbulent world we live it.

 

 

The Sweetest Kind

Oh, September grass is the sweetest kind, it goes down easy like apple wine.
Hope you don’t mind if I pour you some, made that much sweeter by the winter to come. – James Taylor

 

There is an aged apple tree: near death if-truth-be-told. It stands, barely, far back on this equally aged property we call home. The tree has a newly splintered limb as well as a hallowed-hidey-hole demeanor. It is related to an apple tree that straddles the neighbors’ property and ours along a grassy peninsula of ferns and creeping Charlie.

We take turns looking at the drive-by apple tree and contemplate its condition in times of neighborly chats, musing over its gnarly stature, remarking over the observance that we can now see through the trunk and hoping that it doesn’t topple in the next big storm. That the apple tree still bears fruit is remarkable.

The deer wander down our respective driveways, munching on the windfall apples or tugging on the branches, stripping them of fruit. Oddly enough, there are still plenty of apples that one side will bake a pie with, the other applesauce.

The wasps arrive, come September, attracted to the apples’ juices – road cider pressed from the weight of our cars. The scent is noticeable now, not only along the drive, but also in the grassy plot of sunshine and fallen oak leaves further back. What the deer don’t eat the riding mower will devour. We will, however, manage to claim some apples for ourselves. They are easy enough to harvest in the grass and a long pole with a basket grabs the hanging fruit, plucking them from the  tree branches.

As the long slant of the warm September sun casts her golden glow upon the apple trees, I feel gratitude for the earthly stewards who planted them so many years ago, for these apple trees provide shelter to birds, squirrels, butterflies – and they host a vociferous chorus of tree frogs that serenade us well into these soft September nights. The shade us from the sun in summer and they add to the winter landscape when the snowfalls arrive.

Do you have any fruit trees or pick fruit yourself at orchards? Do you cook/bake with apples?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Relax--

God didn't go anywhere!

Barnstorming

Barnstorming: Seeking Sanctuary in the Seasons of a Rural Life

Mike McCurry's Daily Blog

Creative information about Real Estate and Life in the Western Suburbs of Chicago

ChicagoNatureNow!

Chicago Nature Information & News

The Pioneer Girl Project

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl

Juliet Batten

Author, artist, speaker, teacher and psychotherapist

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

El Space--The Blog of L. Marie

Thoughts about writing and life

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

mirandasnotebook

Your Guide to a Stylish Life

Apple Pie and Napalm

music lover, truth teller, homey philosophy

Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Wordsworth

My Chicago Botanic Garden

A blog for visitors to the Garden.

Living Designs

Circles of Life: My professional background in Foods and Nutrition (MS, Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, RDN, LDN) provides the background for my personal interests in nutrition, foods and cooking; health and wellness; environment and sustainability.

Women Making Strides

Be a Leader in Your Own Life

Middlemay Farm

Katahdin Sheep, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Novelist Adrienne Morris live here (with humans).

Book Snob

FOR DISCERNING READERS

teacups & buttercups

An old fashioned heart

Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

Analysis and reflection from someone endlessly fascinated with Louisa May Alcott. Member/supporter of Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, the Louisa May Alcott Society and the Fruitlands Museum.

breathelighter

Reducing stress one exhale at a time ...exploring Southern California and beyond

Kate Shrewsday

A thousand thousand stories

Blogging from the Bog

musings from and about our cottage in the West of Ireland