Monthly Archives: May 2012

It’s the little things, really

I beat the sunrise this Saturday morning; I’m happy about that. I am, as they say, up before the chickens, literally.I haven’t heard them moving around yet and the birds are still cuddled up somewhere  because I cannot yet hear their songs. I did see my neighbor, however, pulling his boat going to Marsh Island to catch fish for his family.I am going to the farmers market this morning and this time I want to come home with  plenty  of vegetables – I  need to be there early.I hope to find squash and green beans and tomatoes. I planted my garden late so there is nothing yet to pick except potatoes and I need to find a cool afternoon the dig them up – time before the mosquitoes join me in the garden.

I’m back with snap beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers – beautiful “food less traveled” – to quote a sign I saw there. I am drenched in summer and I feel the world slowing down, getting gentler  while the afternons linger and the nights are a spectacle of the waxing moon dangling like an ornament in the nearly summer sky and the June bugs are here with their sturdy shield reminding us of the sultry nights that will soon come to be. The green and blue dragonflies skim the water of the pool and settle on the wire of my clotheslines reminding me , for some reason, of my preschool childhood in Thibodeaux, Louisiana. It was 1958 and my best frends were Lavergne and Jody; we spent afternoons chasing and sometimes catching  “mosquito hawks” , running through sprinkles, and eating  lunches of bologna  sandwiches and Koolaid under the backyard tree. My mom was in the house, my dad was at work, my baby sister was asleep in her baby bed, and I was outside just being “4”, busy making this very simple and enduring summer memory. I really don’t remember much about the pomp and ceremony of my LSU graduation at 21, but I remember being 4 in Thibodeaux. It truly is about the seemingly “little” things for me. I hope you fill this nearly summer day with a myriad of “little things”.
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Benjamin Button

Today is the last day of school and the start of another summer vacation. I hear the kids splashing and zooming in the neighborhood but none of them are my kids anymore. I try to decide if that makes me sad? No, I am not sad but it is a tender moment to remember those days – little boys on bikes and go karts with the sounds of summer around each turn – and a little girl in braids, sunkissed hair, and a pink swim suit – very tender. But, these days are good too and I am writing to post something that proves it. Elizabeth is filling out profile paperwork for college “matches” and she had to include her favorite quote. It is something, for me, that says she was listening all of these magical years of childhood and it is evidence that she has become the daughter that is a perfect “match” for me. I hope you enjoy this:

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heart tugs

I perused over my FB page this morning and noticed the great amount of graduation snapshots and moments. It made me think of a newspaper column I did when my twins graduated in 2006. I am posting for you moms – I know how you feel – these moments are truly bittersweet.

May 2006 Daily Iberian

Already, the St. Josephs, and gardenias, and many of the magnolias have bloomed. This passage into spring has been hasty. All year I anticipate the bouquets of sweet smelling gardenia and the lemon, clean scent of our state flower and the promise of spring from the amaryllis. They seem to have come and gone, quickly. I suppose I am too busy, I should take more time to insure my memories of spring, for they must last a year.

All of this bounty and burst of beauty coincides with another passage that is brisk and momentary and brings with it much ambiguity of the heart, graduation. Like spring, you try to hold on and capture each moment and experience each event, but like blossoms, it burst and quickly fades. As festive of an occasion as graduation is, it explodes with sentiment and can make a parent’s heart heavy. While we are very proud of this milestone, letting go is difficult. Even as our graduates are donned in mortarboards and flowing gowns, we find ourselves remembering that sweet kiss on a fat cheek and a little hand that reaches for ours. And we can’t forget that hug around the neck that drew us so close to the smell of childhood. There they are with diploma in hand and full of happiness and fulfillment and here we are still trying to hear the little voice that, seemingly a hundred times a day, asked us “Why”. Listening to the baccalaureate speeches and witnessing the final moments of the class of 2006 physically being together, we search for the little one that we might gather up and rock until worries are gone and peaceful sleep lies on their face, we try to find the tiny laugh that comes from the core of their being and touches the heart of ours. Through soppy tears, we will congratulate you and will continue to be there, cheering you on and remembering.
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amongst the rain drops

I walked after the rain today and the earth seemed fresh scrubbed and clean. The birds were flapping in the water, the frogs were croaking alongside of the ditches and the sky was brilliant and animated – all of these sights and sounds were amazing but what really stirred me were the puddles – the small puddles the dips in the road made. I don’t really know why but each one reminded me of a little boy with bare feet making sure he stepped in every one, not stepped, splashed, and each time there would be a laugh, a genuine laugh that only children have, one that makes you feel so happy. Those moments of childhood are just snapshots now, little flashes of memory that something, like the rain, takes me to unexpectedly. I can see the little feet and hear the small voices – pure happiness on a summer day long ago. I know time removes the murky stuff and leaves us with just the happy memories but somehow walking in puddles after a summer rain with a little boy can only be joyous.

 I wonder what I am doing now that I will remember later with tenderness. I suppose it could be these last bit of high school days with Elizabeth, days when I wait for her to come home from school and hear about her day and speak of friends that will, sadly, go away, friends and classmates that are such a big part of her life right now. Life doesn’t stop, it moves on and when we look back, it seems to have gone so quickly.

 I may have written this before but it’s worth another posting. It is a story about me as a young mother with four little boys standing in line at Eckerd Drugs – the older two, Jon and Will, standing alongside of me and the twins, Matt and Drew, sitting in the buggy. It was an effort to go anywhere then with four young children but I must have needed something really badly that day. In the line behind me was an old man. I could tell he was watching us fidgeting, moving, and anxious. After a while he said to me, “I have twins too, girls. They are grown now. “ I suppose I must have been too weary to even respond to what seemed to be his small talk because then, he got my attention when  he said, ” Enjoy them because the years will go so fast.” And then he smiled and said, ” It’s those days that are so long.” I will never forget that wisdom.

“This-this was what made life: a moment of quiet, the water falling in the fountain, the girl’s voice … a moment of captured beauty. He who is truly wise will never permit such moments to escape.”

 Louis L’Amour
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things that matter

These days of spring are sudden and oh so sweet. The air is filled with fragrance – I, just this morning, noticed the ligustrum trumping the light fragrance of the mimosa and the gardenia. The birds are flying overhead in glorious formations and are singing sweetly to wake me up on Saturdays and Sundays. The honey bees are busy pollinating my garden and cleaning their little feet in the bird bath. It is truly an awakening and so beautiful, divine. It is difficult for me to stay inside these days – those cobwebs I wrote about a while back are still there. Who cares, I have to herald in this glorious season. I have learned a lot about myself throughout these 57 years and I have to finally admit – I am not really good at keeping up the inside of my house. I have to be amongst the flowers and then I have to have time to paint – so there you go…no time for much dusting. Again, I reference Miss Sue and I think of her house and the way she kept it – it was so authentic and wonderful. It was clean but not fussy. The dishes were washed and stacked neatly on the little rack next to the sink, the bed was made, the bathroom was scrubbed, and the laundry was hung out to dry – enough was done. The focus, however, was the outside beauty that found its way inside. The gardenias were in jars in the kitchen in May and the front room smelled of honeysuckle in June and there was a fresh cut magnolia from the tree in the back making the house smell like summer – these are the things that matter to me. I doubt that my children will ever find comfort in a childhood memory of a meticulously clean house, but if they are like me, they will remember the smells of spring and summer there in the kitchen.

I have been writing a memoir about my days with Miss Sue for years (I hope to finish it this summer) and there is a line in there about just this, “…. It was a fresh cut magnolia that would sit on our kitchen counter and forever define the scent of summer for me;  a bunch of gardenias that would make me remember her front porch and the fragrance in the still May air…” . This is what I think matters. But, today, I shall make a huge effort to stay in for a while and do things necessary in here. It is time to change sheets and hang them out to dry, and I want to harness the laundry room and not leave the kitchen til every dish is washed and put away – lofty goals for a day in May! First, I will head outside with scissors and cut gardenias and one perfect magnolia to “define the scent of summer”.

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in the end…

You know it takes a lot of energy to feed ego. You have to work really hard to keep up with its demands, and the demands are insatiable – once you start, it’s hard to stop. I have written about the power of ego before and I am constantly aware of its effort to seep into our lives, I view it as a negative force, as eroding as running water and consuming as a drug – it’s there always trying to be noticed. So many decisions have been based on it, decisions that, of course, end up badly. I have openly admitted to being its victim in my late 30s – I was somewhere I should have never been, somewhere strange to me. It was a place of consumption, a place that was fueled by ego. I suppose we all have pockets in life we are not happy with, that was mine. Perhaps it was some sort of mid-life crisis bunk or just the environment I was in at the time whatever it was, I lost sight of my real self, the self that loved art and gardens and genuine people who did the things they did because of passion not pressure and I was influenced by people like Miss Sue and my mother and held character and nature in reverence, not cars and consumption – I was never supposed to be in that world. Anyway, now that I am back where I should be, I struggle at the thought of where I was. But, as I always believe, things all happen for a reason and I needed to go there I suppose just so I could fully understand how people get sucked in and so I can appreciate where I am now.

 It is so wonderful here, here where you value the natural world and people who live lives that are honest and real. I think that losing my mother has had a lot to do with placing me at this vantage point – I have her life to see the near beginning and then the end and in seeing that I reshuffle what I see to be important – and nothing, not one thing has anything to do with the materialism and superficial existence of ego. That all goes away and what is left is character.

Ok, that was much to do about nothing on this spring morning. I tend to rant at times and I suppose that was the manifestation of some annoyance I encountered – take from it what you like. I am just celebratory about the freedom I have when I keep ego at bay – the joy I feel when I am a spiritual being – the pressures of this world melt away when I am in spirit. I just wanted to share. Maybe something I said can help put things in perspective and you can find a way to dismiss some negative force that is tapping at your door and instead, find your real self, the one with depth and purpose.

To end on a more pleasant note, the garden is growing, the bees are buzzing, and the hens are laying – life is good.

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