Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Fireglow

Early Spring.. emerging embers.

"Tree, gather up my thoughts
like the clouds in your branches.
Draw up my soul
like the waters in your root.

In the arteries of your trunk
bring me together.
Through your leaves
breathe out the sky."
~ J. Daniel Beaudry, Breath
"Fireglow", if ever an appropriate name for a tree... this is. It is probably ten years old with three trunks and survived the move and planting last summer's end. At the nursery and when first planted, the leaves were only tinged with red, mostly green. I babied it, this tree that is my brother's pride and joy... watering carefully... not too little and not too much. How many phone calls to the master gardener at the nursery to see if all things being done were all right.... what about this tiny cut in one of the trunks... does it need anything....when to fertilize... when to cut back on watering... do I prune back those scraggly limbs that lost their leaves in transit? Then fall arrived and with it the flaming red of the leaves... but it was dry and there had been so much heat and stress and still it was hot and the leaves seemed small and curled on edge... will it survive? This tree held on to its leaves well into November, far later than all the other standard maples in the yard. It took in the snow and the winds of winter and I thought it would be late leafing....it was, or at least I thought it was. The standard maple put out its buds and little flowers a full month before any buds were seen on the "Fireglow". But then the standard maple had to form its seeds and these hung around forever... in the meantime, Miss "Fireglow" quietly budded with tiny small red flowers and equally small red seed flyers and then tiny perfectly folded and shaped red leaves began to emerge in quick succession... bypassing the standard maple and.....

April sun....flourishing fiery glow! Posted by Picasa

....bursting forth in the most deep, garnet red collection of leaves I have ever seen. The leaves larger this year, not shriveled or green... and when the sun shines through the canopy it takes your breath away.... "Fireglow"

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Ruby Tuesday

Monday, April 25, 2011

Have a Seat ~ Please Be Seated ~ Take A Seat...You Pick

Little garden angel... taking a seat on a tree stump...repurposing. (Jackson's garden, Portsmouth)

"Surely ruminating and lolling, squandering slivers of time as you ponder on this or that plant; perching about the place on seats chosen for their essential and individual quality, are other whole aspects of being a gardener. Why shouldn't we? We sit in other people's gardens, why not in our own." ~ Mirabel Osler, The Garden Bench
Tree stumps make better seats than ladders. There is a story behind that statement, filled with angst and pain and humiliation... a story with a moral as well. I won't bore you with the details except to warn all you klutzy people out there (I include myself in this description and I know my daughter would include me as well.)...if you want to look over into your neighbor's yard because you hear a noise there and there is a six foot wooden fence in your way and a pine tree stump available to stand on.. think twice or thrice. Not minding your own business may end up with a badly sprained ankle as you twist your foot trying to quickly step down....remember we are all klutzes here... and you WILL end up on the ground, crawling on all fours in excruciating pain, back to the patio door and into the house where you will then pull yourself up next to the counter, hop on one foot and pray that your teenage daughter has not emptied the ice maker. You will end up in the orthopedic surgeon's office where you will sit for no less than three hours before they x-ray your ankle and another two hours before they get you fitted with the most ugly and cumbersome black boot to stabilize the ankle. This boot will not fit under your pants; this boot over your pants forces the leg to ride up and bunch unattractively at your knee, so that you look as if you were trying to wear some sort of balloon on that leg. And walking in it.... did I not tell them it was being a klutz that got me into this in the first place? Do they really think a genuine klutz can walk in this... much less drive a car with one on? Oh, I forgot to tell you that it was the right foot, the driving pedal foot, no less. The swelling will go down in two weeks, the bruise that came up will take three and all because I wanted to look over into the neighbor's back yard. And you want to know something really disappointing? There was nothing there. Nope. Nothing to go with that weird screeching sound... nada... no one...no child... no animal... completely empty. The moral is of course... next time, simply use the gate...or better yet, take a seat on that stump and let it go.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden, 2006... a most unusual seat to take... under the spreading...
well, I don't know what kind of tree it was... huge and old and visited by many, many people who left their marks.

The huge "C" shaped trunk made a lovely place for Nyssa to lounge. Posted by Picasa
Every time I see these pictures it reminds me of the Longfellow poem that starts out... "Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands...."; though I don't think this was a chestnut tree. While the branches were large and draping all the way to the ground and the trunk hidden like a secret garden resting place... it wasn't a weeping willow either. That was one thing about the garden in Brooklyn, the specimens and trees were not always marked will with their names. I thought the view in black and white was remarkable as it brings out all the graffiti and markings people have left through the years. The tree wears its scars proudly and has managed to survive and thrive in spite of humans.

Carmi's theme this week is "take a seat" so I combined it with the "trees" from last week... taking a seat in and on a tree.

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Carmi's theme ~ "take a seat"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Quarter of a Century... Nyssa Hits the Mark!!!

"In the great green room there was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of--
The cow jumping over the moon
And there were three little bears, sitting on chairs
And two little kittens and a pair of mittens
And a little toy house and a young mouse
And a comb and a brush and bowl full of mush
And a quiet old lady who was whispering "hush".

"Goodnight room
Goodnight moon
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon
Goodnight light and the red balloon
Goodnight bears goodnight chairs
Goodnight kittens goodnight mittens
Goodnight clocks and goodnight socks"

"Goodnight little house and goodnight mouse
Goodnight comb and goodnight brush
Goodnight nobody goodnight mush
And goodnight to the old lady whispering "hush"
Goodnight stars, goodnight air
Goodnight noises everywhere."
~ Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon, 1947
Twenty-five years ago today, a quarter of a century past... a girl child was born. She was loved and cherished and nurtured and taught from the beginning... even before she was born. Goodnight Moon... a simple story with bright primary color illustrations became a nightly ritual... her mom read it before she was born and every night, beginning on her first night home from the hospital. First words... mama... dada.... and "moon". She knew the words to the entire book before she could read and wore out many copies... board book, hardback, paperback... I don't remember how many we finally ended up with. I patched and taped the pages together in this cherished work for many years.

Today, she turns 25... on Easter... her birthday falling on this day for the first and likely the last time in her life. (or at least that is what she tells me). All grown up and too far away to bake a cake for, we simply celebrate over the phone and with cards and as she has also told me... with blog posts. She checked.. it wasn't up... she was disappointed... but I have been behind all my life.. all her life. When I sat down to go through some pictures and think about the past 25 years, my eyes misted.. such a long time it seems and yet it was gone in an instant...those baby smells and sounds of learning to laugh.. those funny things she said as a little toddler...the excitement of going to school and taking her first piano lesson... the joy of watching her help another and realizing that she was learning life lessons.... the harrowing job of teaching her to drive...."watch the mailboxes, watch the mailboxes!!!...the pride at seeing her graduate... from kindergarten, high school, college, master's degree and one more left for the future. All these moments and more contained in 25 years of memories.

I don't like to be in pictures or post pictures that I'm in... but I will make this one exception. Please note and then disregard the amazingly out of date glasses and the frizzed out hair... remember, I had just been through 48 hours of unsuccessful induction of labor and a C-section... so taking that into account, I didn't look half bad. At least both Nyssa and I were asleep... we needed it... we were both exhausted from the process of new life. So, this is what I was doing 25 years ago today at exactly this time of day... 5PM.

Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!!!!

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Reflection

The dogwood....glorious flowering tree of spring...state flower of Virginia...tree with legends holy.

Legend of the Dogwood

An old and beautiful legend has it that, at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its firmness and strength it was selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it:

"Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross.

Henceforth it will be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms will be in the form of a cross ~ two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints ~ brown with rust and stained with red ~ and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember."

~ Author Unknown

Pink and red dogwood....

The pink dogwood flower is said to derive its delicate color from its blush of shame for the way the dogwood was used to make the cross for Christ's crucifixion. The red dogwood reminds us of Christ's blood shed for our sin.

But do they grow in Israel? Posted by Picasa

Isaiah 53: 3-9
3 He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!

5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.

8 Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people.

9 He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave."

~ New Living Translation
No, the dogwood tree does not grow naturally in Israel and the legend is just that. The event of that story is true, foretold by the prophet Isaiah and orchestrated by God Himself and for what reason? So that we might be able to have intimate fellowship with the Holy God. All we have to do is accept and believe... how can I not be grateful?

My prayer is that you remember, reflect and receive.... in this holiest of seasons.

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Recommended Site: A Holy Experience

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When Is A Tree Not A Tree?

When it is nature's arcade with free air conditioning!

"Making the simple complex is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." ~ Charles Mingus
During horrific storms a year ago, several of the old stately pines at the Norfolk Botanical Garden were damaged, a couple broken off... the staff was devastated as these had been here since the garden was first formed. Loblolly pines are the favorite nesting sites of the Bald Eagle mating pair that inhabits the garden. What to do? Recycle... refurbish... reuse... make something magical out of misery. And so they did. You remember the Enchanted Forest series of playhouses that were on display last summer? To go with them, the garden decided to fill the now empty space where the trees were lost, with an outdoor arcade of sort.. the old fashioned kind where grandpas and kids could sit and play checkers as grandpa told stories of his childhood. The large trunks were carved into the table with checkerboard. Other trunks were fashioned into chairs and still others were cut and sanded into the checkers. So the lost trees were not really lost at all.. in fact, their new lives only added to the "enchantment" of the Enchanted Forest.

Does this funny fellow remind anyone else of an Ent?

"Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?" ~ Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982
Lovely people who have been long time friends of my parents live on a section of the bay with boat dock and large rocks at the shore. It is an older section of the area with large shade trees and gorgeous yards. The woman is an avid gardener and has wonderful little treasures hidden all over the place. Nyssa's favorite place was the hammock... shade and the cool breezes off the water. These looked like a variety of holly tree.. some can get quite large. I don't know if they were damaged and she simply couldn't bear to cut them down or if they had been trained and pruned specifically for this purpose, but this fellow can't help but catch your eye. Whimsical, humorous... who could help chuckling as he sticks his tongue out at passersby. But wait... trees with tongues??? Or lips or eyes for that matter.....hmm....

"Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing "Embraceable You" in spats." ~ Woody Allen
I remember now... an Ent... the ancient talking trees in Tolkien's trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. However, I really don't remember them ever looking this happy or mischievous, do you?

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Carmi's Theme ~ Trees

Monday, April 18, 2011

Trees of the Season

Spring, daffodils bloom but the trees must wait.... Posted by Picasa

"I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!" ~ John Muir
There is an order to the season... Spring really doesn't "spring" all at once. Each tree, each flower has its time of glory before its Creator. Crocus at the end of winter, then daffodil and weeping willow, the pink helicopter seeds of standard maple and the pale green new leaves of the birch... one after the other. Some with seeds arriving in tow with leaves, some with seeds that have to wait for fall. The last to leaf... usually the oak and crepe myrtle; the oak first pushing off brown dry dead leaves hoarded over winter to let the new green growth out and the crepe myrtle sprouting new growth below dead limb tips that should have been pruned in February. Each having a moment of splendor before shades of green deepen and blend with others in the the woods and forests and swamps.

Ornamental pear, flowers before leaves.. first in line for Spring.

"The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ornamental pear and plum have their finest moment with millions and billions of tiny white flowers that draw the season's first bees and shower the ground around their base with Spring snow.

Showy and loud, stately and proud, the rows of pear line boulevards and medians bring thoughts of white carriages and horses and fair tale princesses in pale blue sparkling dresses, rather than the reality of people in cars on their way to places unknown. Emerson was right.. how can we see the trees and not wonder more?

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Carmi's Theme ~ trees
Mellow Yellow Monday

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lovely Little Ladybug, Coming Soon to a Garden Near You

Will ladybug season be early or late? Posted by Picasa

"The ladybug's a beetle.
It's shaped like a pea.
Its color is a bright red
With lots of spots to see.
Although the name is ladybug
Some ladybugs are men.
So why don't we say "gentleman bug"
Every now and then?"
~ Author Unknown
I love ladybugs... so round and bright and spotted.. and wonderful to keep the aphids off the roses. In these parts, the garden centers get their crop of ladybugs around the first of May.. though the aphids show up earlier. They are voraciously hungry and very efficient, as within a day or two they manage to eat all the aphids. Unfortunately, they usually move on, even though we have put out special ladybug food to entice them to stay. I love to see them walking along the rose stems and seeing the tiny aphids scattering as fast as they can. Now, if only someone would find a bug who loved to eat June bugs.... they are more destructive to the roses than the aphids.

One warning about June bugs.... DO NOT use those hanging sac traps.... all they do is attract the June bugs to the trap... AND YOUR YARD! I hung one out last year and in the time it took to go in the house, look them up on the computer and read about the pitfalls... fifteen June bugs had committed suicide by entrapment. But there were even more on the roses. Apparently, the only way to effectively use these (and then only if you really dislike your neighbors) is to give them to neighbors several houses away.... let the beetles be attracted to their yards. This really is not a nice neighborly thing to do. I did read that you could collect them in a jar of dishwashing liquid and water and then blend them up into an emulsion and spray the mixture on the plants. The writers said this would repel the June beetles; I guess no one like to nibble with the scent of one's relatives around.

My shade garden is returning... columbine about to bloom, ferns curling up spirals from the mulch, the astilbe leafing out and even the leaves returning to the hydrangea.... now... hmm... is it purple with acid or basic fertilizer. I did it wrong last year and the flowers were pink... pretty but I wanted purple with green centers. And the irises I planted last year... those I took from our old house... those that I thought would surely perish since I left them in plastic wash pans with no dirt for three years... those that instead multiplied and turned 50 plants into 175....well, it looks like at least some of them will bloom this year. And with my brother coming home in late April... he will get to see them in their glory!

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Ruby Tuesday

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reflections in Time

Window reflections from Bruton Parish Church. Williamsburg, VA.

"Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows." ~ Sydney J. Harris (American Journalist, 1917-1986)
Old window panes, colonial windows, built in 1715, now 296 years old. Windows that have seen the birth of a nation, wars between brothers, celebrations of independence, innumerable weddings and funerals and now, visitor from all the world itself. The windows let the light inside the historic structure and still reflect the life around it... winter trees with gnarled branches and the sky between. Sometimes as you walk the quiet streets you can hear the sounds of ancient hymns from the huge pipe organ within... other times there are the voices of a choir singing praises to God. What secrets have these walls seen and held? If only the bricks could talk to us... what history we could experience then.

Carmi's theme has been "windows" this week. I love the old wavy glass in the historic homes.. rare and irreplaceable these days. And the round windows... Williamsburg has quite a few of these in the old capitol building, the Wren building on the campus of William and Mary and in this old, stately church.

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Carmi's Theme ~ Windows

Monday, April 04, 2011

Christmas In April

Christmas blooms in April. Yellow Christmas cactus.

"I've always thought my flowers had souls." ~ Myrtle Reed, Lavender and Old Lace
Mom brought this plant home over a year and a half ago, a yellow Christmas cactus. The unusual color with a tinge of peace at the base of each flower is nothing compared to the light that seems to glow from within. It bloomed a bit at Christmas but not with a spectacular number of blossoms. With the help of colder nights in the sunroom and increasing early morning sun from the east, it has been putting out buds and blooms for a month now... and I hope it continues until Easter. As always, that luminescent shine seems to pour forth from within the flower. It is so delicate and powerful at the same time. Where did she get this? At Sam's, along with her orchid... the one that bloomed for nine months straight, stopped for two months then started again and is still full of blooms four months later.

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Mellow Yellow Monday

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Springtime In Switzerland

A Spring stroll in the park... Geneva, Switzerland

"It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what." ~ John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga
Springtime in Switzerland, another place I have never been except through the eyes of my brother and his little camera. This shot shows what I love the most about spring... the pale green tiny leaves on the huge trees with dark branching trunks and lacy intertwining limbs. Around here we don't see it so much. There are many maples and these seem to produce their seeds before the leaves come out... they are usually red or orange or even a slight golden color and in some places near our house, the maples all alined almost give the look of fall with their "Spring" colors. The pear and plum trees show up with millions of small white flowers before the leaves and by the time these petals have been blown by the wind into a fine Spring snow on the ground around their feet and covered cars that drive by, the leaves emerge at almost full size. The oaks have yet to push off last years brown dead leaves. No, here we don't have a boulevard to walk under an arch of tiny fresh green leaves.

I remember one tree near the lab where I worked in Mississippi. While I don't know what type of tree it was, it always fascinated me. It was old with a thick dark trunk... almost black, the trunk and limbs. Deep, dark green ivy had spread from the disc around the base, upward, covering the trunk in green year around. In the winter, short as it is there, the black empty limbs gave an architectural look to the corner lot... always with that green ivy showing. But it was most magnificent in Spring, when the light lime green leaves began to emerge. The lime green made the black limbs and branches pop and it blended so finely with the dark green ivy. It was a wonderful collage of greens and black for almost a month, until the leaves were too large and the skeleton of limbs could no longer be seen.. and by then the color of the leaves and the ivy were almost indistinguishable. As summer approached, it was just another tree with its individualistic character now hidden from view until Fall once again came.

Carmi has chosen the theme "land, sea or air" for this week.... whether travel by each or the beauty of each. I chose this for land... spring land... a land I have never walked, but may do so some day. And I thought this was most scenic as well for Scenic Sunday.
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Carmi's Theme ~ Land, Sea or Air
Scenic Sunday
Scenic Sunday