Papa

Under a full harvest moon, my father drew his last breaths. How fitting for a man who grew up on a farm and who loved his garden. The scientist died peacefully, in his sleep, in the house he and my mother built for themselves and my sister and me. It was how he wished to die, and we are thankful it happened that way. Farewell, dearest Papa. I love you.

Effulgent

8.27.13 ~ Durham, North Carolina

dragonfly by Barbara Rodgers

Is it a mistake to look to the world to tell us the meaning of our plummeting lives? Maybe we all have the power to shape our own structure, the structure of our metaphoric wings, what lifts us – our character maybe, call it our spirit. We all in our own ways catch the light of the world and reflect it back, and this is what is bright and surprising about a person, this rainbow shimmer created from colorless structure. Maybe there is no meaning in the world itself – no sorrow. In fact, no good or bad, beginning or end. Maybe what there is, is the individual way each of us has of transforming the world, ways to refract it, to create of it something that shimmers from our spread wings. This is our work, creating these wings and giving them color.
~ Kathleen Dean Moore
(Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature)

Time seems to fly by so quickly, and yet, each day seems so long in the living. Especially in August. Please! One crisis at a time!!!

8.27.13 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Near the end of August my sister and I finally and reluctantly decided that our aunt, who is 98, required more care than we could reasonably provide for her. The family doctor pulled some strings and found her a place in a “good” nursing home, much to our relief. She is now “settled in” there.

Our father, who is 91, is doing a little better, but is still on oxygen and remains very weak. So far my sister and brother-in-law feel they can manage him at home. He will probably never walk again, even with his walker… But I have to keep a watchful eye on my sister’s well-being – she has done more for the ancient ones than most people, including myself, would have or could have done.

8.31.13 ~ Durham, North Carolina

At the end of the month I spread my wings and accepted my daughter’s invitation to fly to North Carolina to visit her and my son-in-law in their new digs. It was the first time I flew by myself, although I had a flash of insight on the plane – I wasn’t flying by myself at all – there were many other people on board, fellow humans all with their own ways of transforming the world. All of us one. The flights there and back were spiritual highs for me!

8.27.13 ~ Durham, North Carolina

…Larisa at Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Visiting Dima & Larisa for five days was wonderful! Very humid weather put something of a damper on outdoor adventures, but we had fun gardening in the early morning hours and decorating the living room and kitchen together one fun afternoon. We explored Durham in the air-conditioned car and talked and talked and talked. And had some great meals out and even better meals from their kitchen and grill. Had loads of fun taking pictures! I also came home with a lot of spider and mosquito bites for souvenirs. :)

8.31.13 ~ Durham, North Carolina

…I think this is a tropical quail (?) who lives in the
Magic Wings Butterfly House at the Museum of Life & Science

The trip did me a world of good – thank you so much for your gracious hospitality and welcoming arms, my wonderful kids!

8.31.13 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Lady Slippers

5.17.13.5445

…Liz (Janet’s mom)…

On Friday, Janet, Liz and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon at a Lady Slippers Walk & Picnic at the Peace Sanctuary in Mystic, Connecticut.  Our guide was Maggie Jones, executive director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.  Before we began our walk in the woods, Maggie gave us a little history of the 45-acre sanctuary property.

5.17.13.5453

The Universal Peace Union had been founded in Providence in 1866 by a group of reformers whose belief in nonviolence after years of bloody warfare led them to a broad critique of American imperialism, U.S. immigration and Native American policies.  The local branch had formed among Rogerene Quakers around Ledyard, and the first national meetings took place in private homes there.  As the number of members grew, including large numbers of women, the annual meeting moved to a larger venue in Mystic.

By the 1880s and 1890s, the gathering attracted as many as ten thousand attendees.  In 1890, the organization purchased land from Silas Burrows and the Fish family on a hill overlooking the river on the northwestern side of town.  Meetings then took place at this open and undeveloped spot, attracting such speakers as reformer Lucretia Mott and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” Julia Ward Howe.

~ Leigh Fought
(A History of Mystic, Connecticut: From Pequot Village to Tourist Town)

5.17.13.5458

…happily growing in a decaying tree trunk…

When peace became less popular around the start of World War II, the land was purchased by explorer, naturalist, cartographer and writer, Mary Jobe Akeley (1886-1966), who turned it into a summer nature camp for girls.  Camp Mystic was very popular and attended by girls from across the nation.  Renowned explorers often visited the camp and shared stories of their experiences with the girls.  Sadly, during the Great Depression the camp was closed.

5.17.13.5461

…almost ready to bloom…

After her death in 1966, the Mary L. Jobe Akeley Trust & Peace Sanctuary was established and the property is now looked after by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.  In the month of May nearly 400 native pink lady slippers, also called pink moccasin flowers, can be found blooming in the woods on the property.

5.17.13.5462

Lady slippers are part of the orchid family and are native to Connecticut.  They love the acid soil found in the woods, and need a certain fungus found there in order to survive. They grow 6 to 15 inches tall and the flowers are about 3 inches long.  They can often be found growing in decaying logs.  I used to see them occasionally when I played in the woods near the swamp where I grew up, so it was a treat to see so many of them in one day!

5.17.13.5464

The pink lady slipper has been the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island since 1947, and the state wildflower of New Hampshire since 1991.

5.17.13.5465

…different stages of blossoming…

Our walk was mostly uphill and when we reached the top we were treated to an outdoor picnic buffet in a lovely woodland garden.  I had stinging nettle soup for the first time, and another soup made with wild leeks.

5.17.13.5469

…narcissus…

5.17.13.5472…garden shed…

5.17.13.5474…daphne…

5.17.13.5480

…a frog bidding us good-bye as we made our way back down the hill…

Grandmother Elm

5.14.13.5401

Finally, some leaves have appeared on my tree!  I think it is an elm tree.

5.14.13.5396

My grandparents had an elm tree on the northwest corner of their house lot.  Its branches and leaves could almost be touched when looking out the window of the green bedroom, feeling like the leaf canopy of this elm in the above picture.

5.14.13.5403

…My tree on May 14th…

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.
~ Hal Borland
(Countryman: A Summary of Belief)

5.13.13.5384

…Zoë…

5.14.13.5439

…flag flying outside our fish market today…

Toby went into the hospital for cancer surgery five days ago, and will probably be staying there for another week or so.  The day he went into the hospital I had to go up to my father’s house for a few days to help out with the ancient ones.  Chelsea had some time off so my aunt Em from Maryland came up and she and I tried our best to fill Chelsea’s shoes! It’s good to be back home now and slip into a more “normal” routine again, at least for a little while.

Up at my dad’s it was so quiet without Bernie around, but I was able to get outside for a short walk and take a few pictures.  Later, while sitting on the porch watching birds with Dad, I experimented with the telescopic lens and got a fairly decent picture of a nuthatch (below), if a little blurry!  But next time I think I will use the sports setting with the auto-shoot feature.  It worked so well today with the flag picture this morning (above), which was whipping in the wind.  Enjoy!

5.10.13.5328

…a nuthatch…

5.10.13.5232

…pansies for Bernie…

5.10.13.5236

…branch shadows playing with the roots of my hemlock tree…

5.10.13.5237

…trillium…

5.10.13.5258

…garden steps…

5.10.13.5263

…primrose…

5.10.13.5275

…life and death on a maple leaf, spider eating a lady bug…

5.10.13.5287…garden whimsy…

Garden Angels

5.6.13 ~ Groton, Connecticut

…an angel in my garden…

Our lives have taken on a surreal quality, a numbness, in recent weeks. Tim’s brother Toby is now living with us, and sadly, has been diagnosed with incurable bladder cancer. A few days after receiving this devastating news, we were stunned to hear that Tim’s cousin has also been diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Radical treatments will buy them both a little time, but how much is uncertain. This is all so uncomfortably familiar, having lost three of our middle-aged parents to cancer when we were young adults. And yet, this is now all so terribly new to us, cancer striking our generation for the first time.  Insidious, unrelenting, cruel…

5.5.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

…new leaves emerging from small buds and twigs on the trunk of my tree…

Zoë has been wonderful company for me – I’m thinking of getting a cat harness and leash for her so she can come out into the garden with me. She seems rambunctious enough to enjoy an outdoor adventure.  :)  Toby is doing angelic things in my garden – he loves gardening and it gives him something satisfying and distracting to do between medical appointments. And Scarby has been wonderful company for Tim – she is coming out of hiding more often and enjoys sitting on the cat tree to look out the window and soak up the sun. She often sits on his desk and watches him work.

The other day I sent Tim a link to an article, how to calculate tree height using a smartphone. And then, Voilà!!! Mr. Logic found the app and used it on our next visit to my tree! He determined that my tree is 60 feet tall! (That’s about 18 meters tall for those of you on the metric system.) An interesting bit of information to ponder, since I still cannot see the shape of its leaves just yet.

5.5.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

…My tree on May 5th…

Janet and I took a train to New York City. We met Larisa at Penn Station and went shopping in the fabric district for material for her wedding dress! She is sewing it herself with a little help from her friends. Seeing her drape the different shades of purple fabric over her body to see which one she liked best, well, they were some of the happiest moments in my life. My lovely daughter is going to be a stunning bride in just a little over a month!

off-center and in-between…

photo by Barbara Rodgers

Life is a good teacher and a good friend.  Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it.  Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about.  The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit.  It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.
~ Pema Chödrön
(When Things Fall Apart)

River Valley Farm

River Valley Farm created by Sandra Bender Fromson

Warren, a wee faerie of farming, lives in this house with his wife Elvina and children Lily and Eldon.  The house was built by his grandfather with stones cleared from the farmland more than 100 years ago.  Raised on the farm, Warren and his family continue the age-old traditions of working the land, growing vegetables, and tending the orchard.  Elvina bakes pies using the enormous apples that grow in Miss Florence’s orchard.  Although great for the delicious vegetables and fruit, the gardens and the orchard are favored painting locations for the artists as well.
(Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making)

photos by Barbara Rodgers