Midsummer’s Eve Tea







May your day be enchanted and ever so bright, filled with magical surprises meant to delight…

May you happen upon a tiny feast set just right, fit for the fairies and their sweet friends the sprites…

May you be touched by the whimsy of midsummer’s eve night, dance a jig neath the moon and its silvery light…

And whatever may come with the dawn of the day, may you always be loved as as you wander your way.  





Big moments?

Spring turns to summer in Texas! Really?  Are you sure? Because, I won’t fib, today mostly feels the same as yesterday.  Ellie rules the roost.  Period.  No ifs ands or buts.  Jack is going at his regular breakneck pace looking for our next big adventure.  And Bo rests his head in my lap trying desperately to be adorable so I’ll share my last bite of buttered toast.  He loves butter almost as much as cheetos.  Even Dobby is getting along splendidly.  He’s a very new story for another day.  Sigh.  How do they find me?  Nevertheless seasons change and my daily life changes with them.  There’s not much to see really.  If the calendar doesn’t remind  me that today is the day, how would I even know.  Most of us are so far removed from the natural world these days that the changing seasons don’t mean as much as they once did. The turning itself is something though. Spring is new!  We’ve waited and tended and worked.  New is upon us!  Spring is a time of flowers, Passover, Easter, and graduations of one kind and another.  We look to each of these as transformative moments.  None of them lasts very long.  But each asks us to reflect on what has been, to celebrate it, often to let it go.  Make way for what’s next.  

When someone graduates do you honor their hard work and  accomplishment or do you encourage them towards their dreams as they move forward.  Honestly, you probably do both.  Still, the celebrations and festivities we most associate with spring are at their core about profound transformation.  How fascinating to me that a single ceremony, a single calendar day can pass quietly before us and yet we are supposed to feel that somehow Now things are different.  I am no longer this.  Instead…I am this…new, different.  It’s an odd moment I think, and it takes me a while to catch up with the meaning of it.  Sometimes all we can do is move through it, letting it be what it is.  We instill such grand importance on what we deem to be the big things in life.  A festival has taken place.  Life is new!  Isn’t it?  

Towards the end of winter branches are bare and the world is rather gray.  Suddenly the air warms up a tad and there are a dozen shades of green everywhere you look. The flower bud closed so tight against the world one day changes its mind and opens its heart in blossom.  It’s true then I suppose that all things transform and renew in a moment that we may not even see.  We are not misguided in our hopes for the future, our dreams of the new.  But, we look too hard for the change itself.  We want to see it and know it.  We want to pencil it on a calendar with a date and time.  We will arrive early to get a good seat.  Our camera will be at hand to capture the perfect moment. The moment of change.  We’ll be there with bells on.  And we won’t miss anything.  

We expect too much from the big moment.  In the expecting we miss the beauty of what is real.  Those things that change us the most usually arrive without fanfare.  They can surprise us with either joy or sorrow and are almost never captured in a photograph.  They are the unseen flowers that dwell in your heart. There are plenty of things I keep track of by calendar so as not to forget them. Others are so much a part of me I couldn’t forget them if I tried. Those are my own anniversaries of the heart.  Mine alone.  There are more of them with each passing year.  My heart is tending a garden while I am otherwise occupied. 

 So, it’s rather fitting that as spring turns to summer there isn’t much to see.  In fact, I almost missed it.  Until, I headed out the door for a nice stretch of the legs.  I walk partially because my sweet but  energetic four legged companions demand it.  Into the woods.  Over the fallen log.  A joyful splash through the creek.  The sky open wide before me as I hit the field.  No ceremonies.  No festivals.  No expectations.  Just an unremarkable moment.  The wind whispers through the trees telling me the story of the spring and its passing away.  Clouds float overhead transforming as I watch.  Shifting effortlessly from one form to another easily letting go of the last one to make way for the next knowing it will be different…but wonderful nevertheless. 

 I reflect on what has been.  It’s the small things I recall.  Early morning feedings of a tiny new life.  Quietly starting wordpress on one of my own anniversaries of the heart.  Being humbled and surprised when someone takes time to read my thoughts.  Too many walks to count.  Waiting.  Simple adventures.  Pie!  Jack j juice box, as cute as a box of juice! Then like the seasons ask of me, I let go and turn forward to what summer may be.  Hopefully an abundance of morning glories.  Reading and writing amidst the daily necessities.  Certainly there will be sorrow too but I’ll take that as it comes, as gently as I can.  

As surely as there will be mosquitoes and poison ivy and very hot days, there will also be iced tea on the porch swing, lazy evenings listening to the frogs, and my annual reading of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Tucked in among it all is a new anniversary of the heart waiting to be discovered. Perhaps I’ll know it when I see it. Probably not though. Moments like that are far more quiet than jack is when he begs to be noticed. When I’m not looking it will gently take root in the ever growing garden of my heart. And there it will be, waiting. One day it will flower before my eyes and I’ll wonder at the newness of it and how beautifully different everything is than it was just moments ago. 

Maybe…

The sun. Our sun,  is a star.  A star is a star through and through, inside and out.  It doesn't have to decide what it will be.  It doesn't question what it is.  A star just rests in its own innate starness. It does not shine for me or for the earth. It does not fret over what it will do today.  It radiates warmth and nourishment because that is the nature of what it is, to only and always give from the center of itself.  Or maybe, it does shine for both me and the earth and that is one more thing I just don't know.  What if the shining and the warmth and all the goodness of it is like a beacon reaching out across all that we cannot see as an act of love to its own love.  What if the two each moved to close the distance between them in deep affection for one another.  Would we be blinded by their oneness? Would they lose themselves sweetly in each other?  What if they shine for each other, not us, and we simply benefit from their gift of love? We come into this earthly world where there are five senses, taste, touch, smell, vision and hearing.  From start to finish in this life, we are called upon to let go, give up, give away.  In this world, one can lose any of the five of the senses. We don't much like to think about that.  When you are faced with such a loss, do you reach out to understand it or do you turn away a bit fearfully? Then, there's Love… I wonder, could love be a sense as taste and touch are senses?  Could it?  Perhaps, it is the one and only sense of our soul.  The only thing needed for a soul to find its way.  Soul, the unseen at the heart of who we are.  We experience life through vision and hearing and such. But when we are born into this earthly way of being we bring love with us too.  It is not something easily explained.  It is more something indescribable deep within our nature.  Love sits at the edges of all that we do waiting patiently for our hearts to open to the sweet truth it offers.  Maybe we bring the only thing, the only sense, a soul can bring into this world, Love.  And as the love of one awakens in the love of another it sparkles and bounces joyfully from here to there and back again.  But, the more we grow into an earthly way of  seeing and doing we forget what the oneness of love can be.  Not do.  Be.  We are always like the star.  Our shining is never outside of us.  Our warmth is not in an other.  It is forever inside of us.  We simply forget that sometimes. It is in the forgetting that we suffer as we look outwardly for something to touch us and give us the gift of love.   The rich blessing that we seek is deep within all along.  You love another just because you do.  You cannot help it.  We mistakenly think we need something from them in return.  But you don't.  Imagine anyone that you have ever loved.  If time or space or circumstance kept you apart, would you stop loving them?   We forget, I think, what love really is.  We tend to think of love through the eyes of this world as something we can acquire and hold.  Love isn't like that.  Love is like being a star inside and out.  Through and through.   We tell ourselves that we must see or touch someone to love them.   We don't though.   Seeing and hearing are of this world and this body.  Love is of the soul.  Love is so much bigger than all of the five senses put together!  A beautiful enormous invisibility that is hard to even imagine.  So glorious in its brightness that like our star, the sun, it is impossible to look at it straight on.  Simply close your eyes and feel the warmth of it.  Be very still and quiet.  Remember the only sense of the soul.  Love.  Love, that comes with us and stays with us even when we forget to know it.  Waiting tenderly to be awakened.  Learn to let go of the world,  remember what you are at heart… soul created from love to love.   Then… it is enough to know.    

Waiting for the Bus

Bo waiting for the bus
What’s a bus? I’m really good at this waiting thing, aren’t I?
Bobolicious waiting with me
Can I sit in your lap while we wait?
Bo waiting for cheetos
If you don’t have any cheetos, do you at least have some bacon?
Bo waiting to go home
I’d really like to get home to my nice soft sofa, just so you know.

Bo is the waitingest dog I ever did see. No matter where we are, if I stop, then he sits to wait…  If I told him, now sit right here while we wait for the bus Bo, I swanee he would say –  well, ok.  Do you have any cheetos? It’d be swell if you had some.  Cause I’d really love some cheetos while I wait for this bus thing.  But, if you don’t have any that’s ok too.  I can wait til we get home.  I bet there’s cheetos at home.  Cheetos sure do sound good about now.  Say, have you got any cheetos?  When’s that bus gonna get here? – Just so you know, Bo has a slow drawl when he talks.  

Trust in the Bacon

I write everyday.  You probably do too.  A text, an email, a grocery list.  Anytime you string words together for whatever reason, you’re writing.  Writing doesn’t have to look like a story.  I’ve been writing as long as I can recall.  My script was so small in middle school that my poor teacher couldn’t even make it out with her reading glasses.  She asked me very kindly to write larger please.  I hope that I did. These days I wake up before 5am each morning, to write.  Yes, on purpose.  Jack has just a wee bit to do with it though.  I start the coffee, settle the dogs and gather my things.  I write in the kitchen in an old-fashioned grade school spiral notebook with a pencil.  I prefer a yellow spiral but find that other colors accept my thoughts just as well.  It’s silly how we fall into certain routines, isn’t it.  Nevertheless, there they are.  For instance, Ellie at nearly 100 pounds can only seem to rest at night if she’s right up next to me.  I have awakened with more than a few creaks as you can imagine.  But she’s my sweet girl so, there I am.  Back to writing…  Some mornings I’m quite lost and stare at the page not knowing where to begin.  Emptiness waiting to be filled.  There is a beauty in empty spaces.  In Japanese culture emptiness is thought to be Full of Nothing.  And from nothing comes everything… nothing is pure potential… I find that delightfully amazing! When someone asks me out of curiosity what’s in all those spirals.  I giggle and say – a whole lot of nothing.  And it’s true really.  My spirals aren’t meant to Be anything.  They’re just me listening to myself I suppose.  Oddly enough writing that I’m lost often gets me off and running.  How many thoughts do we have in a day, or in an hour, and how many of them are we able to explore and play with to our hearts content.  Not many.  Life tugs at us to keep moving.  So, when I stop long enough to write in my spiral or here on wordpress where do I begin and then where do I go from there.   Do you know where you’ll end up before you arrive or is it more of a wonderful happenstance.  Even if you board the right train with the right ticket punched for Timbuktu, can you  be certain that’s where you’ll get off, where your journey will end?  I will admit a terrible secret.  Often when I begin reading a book, I turn first to the back and check out the ending.  It’s not because I want to judge whether the story is worth my time.  It’s not even because I want to know how it ends.  And it doesn’t spoil the book for me at all.  In fact the opposite is true.  It helps me to let go of reading as a means to find out what the ending will be.  I let go of the worry of what will happen.  It frees me to enjoy the rambling journey of the story itself.  The twists and turns take on a liveliness of their own.  The darkness of the forest holds beauty as well as fear and doubt.  Because I know how the story will turn out I pause long enough to see both rather than hurrying through assuming either the best or the worst.  Of course real life doesn’t allow me to live backwards knowing what will happen.  I’m good with that.  I have no desire to know.   Ellie, Jack, Huckleberry, Bo and Sonya trust we will walk everyday no matter the weather.  They know the lake is ready for a swim when they get there.  They believe there will be squirrels to chase and interesting smells to dig for.  And with every fibre of their being they trust that when the walk comes round once again to Home there will be the wonders of bacon snacks waiting for them as if by magic.  Beyond even the bacon is a soft safe spot to sleep away the afternoon.  No worries.  Perhaps I should read the way I live, forward without jumping to the last page.  Perhaps I should live the way I read, taking one page at a time grateful to be where I am and  wondering at what will come next.  Perhaps I should let go and trust more easily the way my four legged companions do. Perhaps I should face the empty page with the pure anticipation of the fullness of nothing.  Enjoy the journey and Trust in the bacon!

 

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life is good when you’re me

 

Ok Jack,

I love that first glimpse of the field in the morning.  I love when the lake is still and my heron is still and I can be still with them. I have much to learn from him.  I love when the sky is as blue as a morning glory like it is today.  I love when no matter where I look there are a thousand shades of green.  Each one different.  Each one beautiful.  I love when a spider’s web catches more than breakfast, gathering light and transforming it into tiny earth bound stars.  I love when the ducks fly overhead and I can hear the faint whistle of their wings against the air.  I love when the blackberries are ripe for picking.  I eat far more than I ever take home.  I love when music fills my heart.  I even love when Jack comes crashing on the scene with his own love of life and tells me it’s time to keep moving – places to go, holes to dig, naps to take. It’s hard to take pictures of Jack.  He could take a few lessons from the heron on stillness.   Ok Jack, let’s go…

 

morning light

I got thisblue sky at the lakegood morning jackshades of green 894catching the light

Mushrooms!

Like clockwork here they are in all their diversified glory just as the white sky day promised…joined by plenty of tiny new friends ready to play hide and seek…

mushroom alongside a treered spotted faery mushroomcopper top mushroombuckeyewavy red mushroomwhite mushroom in the leavesyellow mushroompartial faery ringfaery mushroomtiny toad

 

White Sky Day

White sky days…I love them as much as blue sky days.  Like an empty page waiting to be filled with text, handwriting, or a splash of paint, there is a story in a white sky day.  Your story.  My story.  A legend.  A fairytale.  A hero.  Blue sky days carry me into forever. White sky days bring forever home to me. The air is heavy with moisture as though I’m in the heart of the cloud itself and it is holding me close to the earth in a gentle embrace.  White goes on as endlessly as blue does but closer somehow.  These days slow me down inside and out leaving behind an inner repose that calms my soul of its worldly concerns.   I look more closely at the smallest things.  My eye searches the forest floor rather than soaring to the tops of the tallest pines.  White sky days don’t always bring rain.  Nevertheless, there is a respite from the brightness of the sun.  No squinting today.  Perhaps that’s why I see more.   The brightest sun on the bluest day lifts my spirits joyfully but keeps my eye moving in self-defense.  Some moments are beautiful because of the softness in the air rather than in the glory of the light.  Science tells me that white is not the absence of color but rather the gathering together of all color.   Whether it is in the form of a bit of glass or a raindrop, a prism takes white light apart and we are gifted with a rainbow.  The chance to see that out of the seeming nothingness of white comes the blessing of all color.  How wonderful is that?!  An artist chooses white to guide my eye carefully through a painting.  At least that’s what I’ve read and after plenty of gazing, it does seem to work out that way.  A dash of white draws me from this place to the next one, from a hand to a cheekbone to the twinkle of an eye, the very window to the soul.  Does the Artist create it just so?  The light is softer on a day like this allowing me to gaze as long as I like. The whites of the ground reach  out to me as though just a smidgen of eternity has fallen to the earth.   These days have a lonesome feel to them.  Not in a sad way.  Rather, it is as though there is something unseen and you feel it must be lovely, if only…    When rainfall does accompany a day such as this then soon faery mushrooms will emerge here and there and the tiniest frogs will cover my path.  One can almost set a clock by these moments.  When enough moisture comes to rest on the ground mushrooms gather within themselves all they need to put on a lovely show.  I look forward to them and begin watching for a hint of a dirt mound suggesting there’s a surprise waiting.  Mushrooms rise up in the same places over and over again. Usually something has died in that spot, the remains of a tree decaying invisibly under foot.  Even in its absence the mighty tree continues to offer life.  Is anything ever truly gone away?  Next time you notice one mushroom, look around, there may in fact be a circle of them where the base of a majestic tree once stood.  Legend names that a magical faery ring.  First a tiny mountain of earth is disturbed.  The next day I might begin to see a touch of color. After that it is truly a mushroom but still contained within its own reality, a closed  umbrella waiting to open at the first sign of rain.  Finally and dramatically it opens itself to the world in trust.  Mushroom!  A room of mush?  A room for mush?  Room to gather what seems mush to me and create something stunning in its complexity and beauty although sadly short-lived.  Mushrooms of all sizes shapes and colors seem to fall in the realm of the faery world, don’t they.  They are petite and invisible most of the time but when they do show themselves there always seems to be a bit of magic nearby as though you might have just missed something quite extraordinary when you were blinking.  Was that a hint of a wing or only a leaf  being carried by the breeze?  Who can tell?  By the following day one can already see signs of the end.  The tiny life begins to split  and brown around the edges.  Its bright color of the day before is fading.  In one more day it will be gone altogether and perhaps forgotten.   Like the snows of winter it will return though, on the heels of a white sky day.  Then once more I will slow to the world and open my heart to the eternity hiding in the smallest seemingly bit of nothing.

Happy Birthday Mimi!

Dorothy Marie Smith.  Mimi, to me.  Today is her birthday.  She would be 108 years old today!

 She lived to be 99 and was fiercely independent taking care of her own home and affairs up until the last few weeks of her life.  At a meagre 4 feet 11 inches tall she was quite a force to be reckoned with.  Born and raised in Chicago in the early 20th century she brought her lifelong love of the Cubs with her when she moved south.  Her own mother died in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 when she was only 8 years old leaving behind a husband and two small girls, Dorothy and Hazel.   Dorothy had only a single gift from her mother, a white ceramic child’s tea set.  Dorothy’s strongest memory of her mother Mary was of holding hands with one another as they walked to church on Sundays.   It may have been her only memory of Mary.  At least it’s the only one she ever shared with me.  The rest of Dorothy’s early life was spent mostly in the care of the Episcopal nuns who ran the school which she attended.  She and her sister may have boarded there as well.  I’m not certain of that though.Dorothy was a bright student who worked hard at her school work without the aid of either computers or google!  She was accepted to Northwestern University to study journalism at a time when that was not easily accessible to women.  Wow!  That is amazing to me.  What an opportunity that must have been.  But, how frightening as well.  I’m sure it wasn’t a role that society approved of for her in the early 20’s in Chicago.  Her teacher was very disappointed that she dropped out and didn’t see it through.  It was love of course.  Blume Joseph Rasch brought her to Louisiana where his large family of parents, brothers and sisters lived.  Dorothy and Blume had 2 girls and a boy.  She outlived two of her children.  How often I heard her say that the pain of losing a child is something a mother never gets over.  I’m not sure when or how they moved to Texas.  But at some point in the 1940’s they set up housekeeping in Houston.  For a while she earned a living by running “The Store” as I used to hear it.  Mrs. Rasch’s Variety Store!  It was within walking distance of their house and had exactly what the name implies, variety.  She sold everything from fabric on the bolt,to bric a brac and household goods.  I don’t think she dealt in groceries at all but outside of that Mrs. Rasch’s carried a little bit of everything.  Eventually the shop closed up and Blume left Dorothy.  The timing of those two parts of her life is less than clear to me.  So many things she just didn’t talk about.  She may not have told many stories about her life but she certainly knew how to keep it all going. Mimi was a very talented seamstress as well.  As long as I can remember women came to her home for both alterations and original creations.   For a while she even sewed a line of dresses for little girls for Neiman Marcus under the label of Sugar Plum Originals.  I wonder from time to time if any of those dresses are still around, perhaps tucked away in a cedar chest of memories.  Mimi never learned to drive and was rather content with that state of affairs.  She managed well and knew how to keep a house stocked against whatever might come.   Raising children through the depression and later on her own brought out both ingenuity and frugality, qualities that she never lost.  She was good with children.  She would get right down on the floor with me to play.  And, I always had a warm winter coat because of her.  She taught me to hang clothes on a line, something that I still love to do in this age of dryers.  A dryer will wear your clothes out faster than anything else.  I know how to put in a zipper the right way thanks to her.  Patterns will tell you otherwise, but a zipper should almost always be installed when a garment is still in the flat stage.  At my Mimi’s house there was always sweet tea in the fridge and a swing in the backyard.  Sometimes a swing is the place to talk about everything and sometimes it’s a place to simply take comfort in the quiet of being with someone you love.  Of all the many things that Mimi excelled at cooking was never really at the top of that list.  Don’t get me wrong.  Her kitchen was open and she made certain that anything on either two legs or four had a full tummy.  But when it comes to food my thoughts turn to one single item…lemon pound cake with citrus glaze.  It was her go to cake for any occasion. I have more than one handwritten copy of her recipe that she shared with me over the years.  As time moved on she would forget that she had already given it to me.  That’s ok.  I’m happy to have multiple copies.  One day I’ll pass them along myself.  Perhaps I’ll even frame them first.  I wonder if that’s why I love the taste of lemon and the smell of citrus in almost any form.  Now plants, that’s another story altogether.  She was a wiz with all things green.  Her azaleas grew so big that she was unable to mulch them from the front.  So, she would move aside the furniture in the living room, open the windows and bring her pine needles through the house dumping them out the open window and onto the tender roots of her azaleas.  Azalea roots are shallow and so need plenty of care and shade.  Mimi’s last husband struggled with alcoholism early in their marriage and was abusive to her both physically and verbally.  She would call my mother who would take me with her over to the house to be with Mimi and take her to see a doctor if necessary.  He gave up drinking and became a gentle bear of a man who loved Mimi and gave her anything and everything never hurting her again I’m happy to say.   Dorothy was strong willed to say the least.  Once she was taking me fishing and told me that I needed to wear a hat.  Now I know she was right.  At the time however, I had no desire to wear a hat.  She kept on and finally looked me in the eye and proclaimed me to be stubborn.  I have no idea what came over me ( I was a fantastically quiet and shy child) but I looked back at her and said – stubborn just like my Mimi.  I guess I rendered her speechless for a moment because I don’t remember anything after that except that I indeed took the hat with me to go fishing.  Life is lived so differently from one person to the next.  I respect and admire cultures that value all ages of life and not just the young.  There is a richness that derives from experience. To get up each morning and face the day ahead offers opportunity, a new chance to learn and to love.  I myself have been blessed with more mornings than some people and fewer than others.  I love the stories of those who have lived more days than me!  They fill me with awe and hope and even laughter.  I’m grateful to have so many stories of Dorothy Marie.  I’m proud to share her name.  Marie is my middle name also.  I could sit here and write about her all afternoon.  Instead I think I’ll bring some flowers in from the yard and situate them in a mason jar.  Then…I’ll bake up her lemon pound cake with citrus glaze and enjoy a glass of sweet tea in my backyard swing.  Happy Birthday Mimi!