Category Archives: Miss sue

"Where are you Christmas"

Today was warm here, not very Christmassy but kind of nice to go outside and find some December gifts. There is nothing as beautiful as nature, there is nothing in a store to buy that comes near that beauty.

 I am ending the day with a hot cup of organic coffee and a teaspoon of honey from my bees of summer – I can’t express how wonderful this moment is to me. I decided to cap it off with a blog post just to make it memorable. Unfortunately, however, I‘ve not much to say. I am waiting on a cold front to arrive early tomorrow and cause the Christmas spirit to stir – at least I hope so, for it is not here. I draw on childhood memories to help get me there. I have so many and so many different focuses.

The ones about Miss Sue are so pure and deep. They are connected to nature; they are about cutting cedar trees in the woods, trees with bird’s nests and moss in them, and getting sticky sap on your carcoat and gathering giant pinecones from a place near the bayou and bringing them home to just be. They are about giving her a gift of homemade food and a late December visit by the fire. Those memories stir me, those memories made me. She was untouched by the commercialism of Christmas.

 Another memory is about my dad and the colossal effort he made one year to put together a huge wreath made from cedar boughs from the woods – this thing was engineered and I’m sure, the source of much stress – for him. I don’t know why he did it – but I remember it.

 I remember my mother too, of course I remember her – the manifestation of Christmas for me – the giver, the miracle worker, the one who created the magic; she defined it for me.


 Of all the things about Christmases past, most are not about things.

Those people are gone now and so are the Christmases of   childhood but, as is evident with this post, their spirits remain a constant in my life.

I don’t have the tree up and I have not been shopping, instead, I wait patiently for the arrival of the Christmas spirit.

I gathered these gifts from the December yard today – citrus from the trees, camellias to put in vases that were a birthday present from a dear friend and narcissus bulbs dug up in my yard at Thanksgiving to be forced bloomed for Christmas.
Christmas is the day that holds all time together. 
Alexander Smith
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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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I have been writing “a book” for years now – it’s really a memoir of someone profound in my life – Miss Sue – . I can’t seem to complete it, however. I spent a little time with it this morning, just proofing, and I found this little piece I thought you might like , something you might connect with.
The days are going quickly, for the school year is closing. I can feel summer on my face; I can see the vibrant sunsets late in the day and the puffy white clouds that fill the summer skies and allow me to daydream for just a short while. I am, of course, grown up now and do not seem to notice all those signs of summer as often as I would like, for I am inside much of the day, distracted and waiting for the coolness of the evening and the sounds made after sundown. This sort of exclusion from the natural world was never a part of Miss Sue’s day; she was always in touch with it and guided by it; there were no rumbling of a central unit or clamorous noises from a flat screen. I think of this and I realize my compromise. I sometimes feel disdain towards this direction I have chosen. I should be there in the garden more and in the woods helping fallen birds and finding berries and watching Nature close up each day. I regret that I strayed yet thankful to, at least,  have the memories. The memories are sometimes what sustain me, “me” being my identity, for I, of course, have sustenance for life; it is the metaphysical “me” that sometimes gets lost. My life is rich, made that way by having my family, but as every wife and mother knows, somewhere some time ago, there was just  “you”. I search for her here at this keyboard and when I find her, I write, for here at the keyboard, I control my life and I find my way back. I hope that each word brings you closer to what I want you to know. Some days, like today, the words flow as if directed and some days they are tangled up and knotted and  I get stuck in the here and now , not allowed in my past because of the superfluous clutter of now. Today, however, I am free from current events and I hope to spend time with Miss Sue and her world.
Miss Sue’s house painted by me when I was 15 (not so great but you can “get the picture”!
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