midsummer magic

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6.25.16 ~ we celebrated the summer solstice on Saturday ~ good friends, good food and good fun…
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6.25.16 ~ bald eagle
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6.25.16 ~ catbird
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6.25.16 ~ woodpecker
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6.25.16 ~ woodpecker taking off
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6.25.16 ~ I’m drawing a blank on identifying flowers…
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6.25.16 ~ a lily?
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6.25.16 ~ ???
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6.25.16 ~ another lily?
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6.25.16 ~ fairy light
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6.25.16 ~ as close as I could get to this doe before she stomped her forefeet at me ~ I backed off so she could graze in peace…
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6.25.16 ~ chipmunk
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6.25.16 ~ so many orbs on a magical night
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6.25.16 ~ after a long day of fun in the sun, a fire to enjoy under a clear sky full of shimmering stars, with fireflies glowing in the surrounding trees, and fairy lights sparkling near the grass…

 

Whimsical Kingdoms

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Lieutenant River ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

The theme of this year’s Wee Faerie Village at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme is Whimsical Kingdoms. Last week Janet, Kathy and I visited and had a lovely morning and afternoon walking through the outdoor exhibit, enjoying the cool, crisp autumn air and fanciful creations.

I love this time of year! We stopped for lunch at the museum’s Café Flo, where the addition of a cup of warm apple cider was a most welcome pleasure.

This year I was particularly drawn to all the earth tones and textures in many of the fairy castles. But we were also lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a colorful fairy! Following are a few of my favorites…

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“Brave” by Kristin & Tom Vernon ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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“Whimsical Sugar Maple Castle” by Jared Welcome ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Many years ago a sugar maple seedling twirled to the ground. Inside, a mighty tree hiding a faerie castle, hid inside. For seven and seventy years the tree grew tall, until the winds of Hurricane Sandy took its toll. It was time for the faerie tower to emerge. Coaxed out of hiding by chain saw and sander, this whimsical, yet sturdy castle “welcomes” all faeries fluttering down in search of shelter.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Whimsical Kingdoms

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“Sand Castle Extraordifaerie” by Greg J. Grady ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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“The Wizard King” by William Vollers ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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“Tiger Lily’s Village” by Madeline Kwasniewski & T. Arthur Donnally ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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“Thumbelina” by Nancy MacBride ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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autumn sky at Florence Griswold Museum ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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“The Woodland Faerie Kingdom of A Midsummer’s Night Dream” by Tammi Flynn, Cheryl Poirier & Lisa Reneson ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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“Jack & The Beanstalk” by Carol Hall-Jordan & Kathryn Stocking-Koza ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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“Jack & The Beanstalk” by Carol Hall-Jordan & Kathryn Stocking-Koza ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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“One Thousand & One Arabian Nights” by Pam Erickson & Sharon Didato ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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“Tower of Baubles” by Billie Tannen & Robert Nielsen ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
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a Valkyrie hanging out in “Valhalla” by Amy Hannum & Laurie McGuinness ~ 10.16.15 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

To view my pictures from past Wee Faerie Villages click on “Florence Griswold” in the categories below.

Aurlandsfjord & Sognefjord

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Late in the afternoon we left Flåm, boarding a high-speed ferry which transported us to Bergen in 5½ hours via Aurlandsfjord and Sognefjord. When we left the rain clouds seemed to be surrounding the mountains in misty ribbons. Enchanting…

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Again, I’m not sure exactly where we entered Sognefjord, but it is the longest and deepest fjord in Norway. It was certainly very wide. We didn’t get many good pictures because of the rain and because the shores were so far away. Some of these pictures were taken from behind the ferry window and with the long lens.

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Rain always comes from the clouds,
clouds from mist
and mist from moisture in the ground.
~ Carl von Linné
(The Magic of Fjords)

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No matter where I turn my eyes,
great mountains over each other rise,
flank to shoulder on they soar;
to heaven’s rim and all between.
We wail to hear the tumultuous roar:
silence adds grandeur to the scene.
~ Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
(The Magic of Fjords)

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As we got closer to Bergen we saw more small houses tucked away on the banks of the fjord.

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…turf roofs provided insulation and protection against winds and frost…

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We arrived in Bergen very late, although it was still light out, and found our hotel, a short walk from the ferry. The next morning we picked up a rental car and began our exploration of Hardangerfjord. Having a car allowed us to park on the sides of the roads and hop out of the car to enjoy the scenery and hear the waterfalls!

flying history

Katie is trying to learn how to take selfies!
Katie is trying to learn how to take selfies!

My mother and her parents loved to travel but were afraid of flying. During my childhood we never flew anywhere so I didn’t notice this and it somehow never came up in conversation. It didn’t even occur to me when I was 15 and my father was offered a job in Greece and my parents decided to move us there. We traveled across the mighty Atlantic Ocean on a cruise ship, the TSS Olympia, from New York to Athens, with a stop in Haifa, Israel.

My first flight on a jet, from Athens back to New York, was memorable. It was just me and my sister, nervous and holding hands for most of the trip, on my 17th birthday, on a 747, shortly after the Greek army had deposed Col. Papadopoulos in a bloodless coup. Our parents were to follow us a couple of weeks later. The perimeter of the airport was surrounded by tanks, reminding us of the fear we felt at dawn weeks earlier, when we awakened to the sound of tanks rolling down our street and military music playing on loudspeakers.

We loved getting pictures of Katie and her parents while we were away on our trip!
It won’t be long before she masters the technique!

We were in the middle of a row on the plane and did not get to look out the windows. There was a stop in Rome, but we didn’t have to get off. However, when we landed there my ears started to hurt, a sharp, stabbing pain. The pain subsided a bit as we flew on to New York, but returned with a vengeance when we landed there. I didn’t fly again for 34 years!

My mother made a dear friend in Greece, a Canadian woman named Carol who was married to a German man, Ernst. Mom overcame her fear well enough to fly to Lebanon with Carol & Ernst and my father, and to visit Carol & Ernst when they moved to Germany, and to Ukraine with my father and his sisters to visit the land where his parents were born.

My grandparents remained fearful of flying. When they came to visit us in Greece, to economize, they sailed on a freighter that accepted a few passengers! It was a rough and tumble passage, and I loved listening to their stories about their adventures on board. Grandmother died without ever having flown, in spite of her son’s repeated efforts and offers to take her up into the sky. He was a pilot, after all.

When Grandfather was 90-something my uncle persuaded him to fly from Cape Cod to Florida to spend the winter down there with him. Tim & I met Grandfather and his physical therapist at the airport to see him off. The captain was the son of the physical therapist, who had kindly arranged everything, and he came out personally to welcome my grandfather and then pushed his wheelchair onto the plane himself as we waved goodbye. Right then and there I decided that if Grandfather could face his fear so late in his life, I could do so as well.

"Daddy, where's my menu?"
“Daddy, where’s my menu?”

Grandfather’s physical therapist also had made him a sandwich and put it in a zip-lock plastic bag. When my uncle called me that night he told me that when he asked Grandfather what he thought about the flight, Grandfather went on and on about the zip-lock bag. He had never seen one before and was marveling at the technological genius of its design! Never did say much about the flight itself!

Finally, my opportunity to try flying again came along when I was 51. Larisa, Tim and I flew down to Florida to visit his stepdad, who was dying of cancer. Much to my surprise, I loved it! Being a dreamer without much aptitude for logic, science and technology, I found myself in awe of the human minds who had figured out how to fly and it still seems like nothing short of a miracle to me every time we take off or land.

And the curve of the world passed
With all of that flying
Above the mighty ocean
Now we all are arriving

Grab the carry-on baggage
Join the herd for the mad run
Take a place in the long line
Where does everyone come from?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve flown in the seven years since, sometimes even by myself, to Florida, Georgia and North Carolina to visit family. It’s still a thrill! So last month Tim & I boarded a Delta 737 in New York and flew to Frankfurt, Germany, our once-in-a-lifetime trip to visit his brother and sister-in-law and to visit Venice and Norway with them. Seven international flights in a month!

It was dark for the flight over, and uneventful. But I had a window seat and a flight tracker so when we caught up with the light over Europe I got to see all the fields and forests in Germany as we began our descent. Some fields were bright yellow – I later learned these were growing rapeseed. After we landed it took us less than a minute to go through customs.

As we shuffle on forward
As we wait for inspection
Don’t be holding that line up
At the end lies redemption

Now I’m stamped and I waved through
I take up my position
At the mouth of the canyon
Saying prayers of contrition

A few days later we took a cheap flight on a budget airline, Ryanair, to Venice. It was cloudy so I couldn’t see anything, and it was definitely a no-frills, sardine-in-a-can experience. On the trip back to Germany three days later, however, the sky was clear and we flew over the Alps, much to my delight! It was amazing looking down on those snow-capped peaks.

Please deliver my suitcase
From all mischief and peril
Now the sight of it circling
Is a hymn to the faithful

Forgive me my staring
For my unconcealed envy
In the hall of arrivals
Where the great river empties

A few days after that trip we flew from Frankfurt to Oslo on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). Even the inside of the plane had that Scandinavian feel, light and airy, you could even see through under the seats. After a magical week in Norway, we flew from Bergen to Stockholm, and on that flight, out of the blue, I got such a sharp stabbing pain in my nose, cheek and temple that tears were squirting out of my eye. At first I thought it was a sudden migraine, but I suspect there was something off with the air pressure. It brought back the memory of the ear pain flying home from Greece all those years ago.

We changed planes in Stockholm and then flew back to Frankfurt after having the best Swedish meatballs ever, right there in the airport restaurant. And unfortunately the pain came back on that flight, too.

Its hand carts and quarters
All the people it carries
To be greeted with flowers
Grandfathers and babies

The friends and relations
Leaping over hemispheres
Transcendental reunion
All borders vanish here

A little over a week later I took a 12-hour Sudafed before boarding the Delta flight from Frankfurt to New York, just in case. Not sure if it was needed but there was no pain on the return flight home. I love Delta because it has a flight tracker at each seat. I was able to identify the English Channel, Great Britain, the Irish Sea, Ireland, and stateside, my beloved Cape Cod, as we flew over. We also flew over Nova Scotia (thinking of Sybil then) but I couldn’t see the land there because of the clouds.

Too bad customs was overwhelmed when we arrived after having such a great flight. It took us almost two hours to get through the maze of lines and scanners and official agent desks! I’m glad my sister and brother-in-law did not give up waiting for us to appear through the arrivals door!

We are travelers traveling
We are gypsies together
We’re philosophers gathering
We are business or pleasure

We are going or coming
We’re just finding our way
To the next destination
And from night into day

~ Mary Chapin Carpenter
♫ (Transcendental Reunion) ♫

It’s good to be home. We continued to receive pictures of Katie in our email almost every day while we were gone. Thank you, Larisa! I have thousands of pictures to go through and many posts to write about this trip which I will get to, even if it takes me all summer. We went to the nursery to get flowers for the balcony and nasturtiums for  Zoë to nibble on. We ate at our favorite restaurant and went down to the beach. Tim went to the eye surgeon yesterday and we found out that he will definitely have to have cataract surgery for both eyes in July. At the same time the surgeon will fix his astigmatism so he may not need glasses for the first time in his 62 years! That will be something else indeed… Life returns to normal…

our children

Dennisport, Massachusetts
1880 Capt. Martin E. Thompson House ~ Dennisport, Massachusetts ~ photo by Larisa Rodgers

Once we meet our children, even for moments, in a place of “I don’t know,” of relinquished authority, we return to the realms of mystery and magic, where real connection becomes alive again.
~ Arjuna Ardagh
(The Translucent Revolution)

Well, it’s official, February was the coldest month on record in Connecticut. And it was the third snowiest, but I suspect it may have set a record for the amount of snow that didn’t melt between storms. I have not seen my garden since January 27. And March came in like a lion, with six inches of snow Sunday overnight into Monday. Incredibly we have more snow due this afternoon and another batch due Thursday… So much talk about the weather these days…