Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My Life: A to Z Meme

Grape Vines, Napa Valley, California
Photography from our private collection.

I was tagged by rdl to do the A-Z meme, so here are a few random facts about me and my life.

A - accent: Awwww…bless your heart, honey. Let’s see – as I sit on the veranda drinking my lemonade, I guess I can admit to a bit of a southern drawl.

B - booze: white zinfandel; sparkling white wines; Margarita: on the rocks with salted rim, and frozen with strawberries and sugared rim

C - chore I hate: I don’t like chores, so I don’t do them! ;)

D - dogs/cats: none at the moment – Sheltie and Terrier went to "pupppy heaven" at ages 18 and 15, respectively. :( Miss them very much and will be puppy parents again one day.

E - essential electronics: computer, cell phone and charger

F - favorite perfume/cologne: Carolina Herrera 212

G - gold/silver: gold most often, but occasionally silver

H - hometown: Atlanta, GA

I - insomnia: yes

J - job title: “the happy gardener” but once a social worker and even earlier an English teacher

K - kids: none

L - living arrangements: in a house with my man, surrounded by lush gardens, birds, squirrels, deer, and raccoons - with an occasional nearby bear sighting in spring.

M - most admired trait: sensitivity

N - number of sexual partners: married

O - overnight hospital stays: one at age 3

P - phobia: snakes, shots, germs – anti-bacterial wipes after shopping carts!

Q - quote: Be the change you want to see in the world ~ Mahatma Gandhi

R - religion: none – eastern philosophy

S - siblings: one sister

T - time I usually wake up: depends on what time I go to bed – I usually sleep in 4 hour intervals.

U - unusual talent: beautiful gift wrapping

V - vegetable I refuse to eat: none – I even like rutabagas now!

W - worst habit: interrupting people!

X - x-rays: lumbar, left hip, left leg

Y - yummy foods I make: rum cake, home-made veggie soup, spoon cornbread, curried chicken salad

Z - zodiac sign: Virgo

Monday, May 08, 2006

Just Outside Our Door

All photography courtesy of our private collection.

As I witness nature opening her magical doors of color, shape, fragrance, and form I am filled with wonder. No matter how many years I have lived on this earth, it is always the same each spring. I am stunned at the intensity of beauty before me, awed by the design and the mystery of perfect creation. One window closes and another opens. The show is always choreographed in perfect harmony in this splendid season of spring.

This morning I heard the drilling before my eyes could locate him. There he was, red hat sitting high on his head met by the full red scarf draped around his neck, drilling for sap and the insects drawn to it. The red-breasted sap sucker was back in the same tree he sat in on Saturday when my husband went flying out in the chilly rain to get a better view and to try to photograph him. Today I got one shot, not close enough. We need a better lens for zooming. It is thrilling to see this bird's red head contrasting the green leaves, and I am happily content to observe him hard at work.

Yesterday I sat outside as night approached, watching my husband loading his wheelbarrow with his gardening tools, my eye searching for the bird who was singing loudly. Finally I found him on the top limb of our highest evergreen. He was too far away for me to even guess what kind of bird he was. I could only determine his approximate size. I listened carefully. He sang his song, repeating the notes in a rhythmic series. Silence....then he began again. In the distance another voice joined the concert with almost the exact order of notes in similar pitch. The repetition was so pronounced I thought at first an echo was resounding across the elevation. Suddenly wings met air, and I was left alone contemplating this extraordinary language which brings pleasure to my life as each morning unfolds and each evening closes my day. I instinctively move to the courtyard to sit and listen, to observe and take in these wonders which live just outside our door.

Each tulip, sunlit and glowing, takes me fully outside myself as I examine the way the light falls. The sunlight illuminates the petals from the inside out, making them seem almost transparent. The blue irises are blooming now amidst the carpet of candytuft which sprinkles the bank in white trails of flowers. My eyes move toward the ground through the tiny blue lithodora blooms, and I watch an earthworm working the soil, not yet mulched. I am glad for the turning and aeration of the earth that holds our plants and trees. I wonder if the robin will see the worm before he is once again hidden deep within the rich, blackness. I see the butterfly move among the tulip blooms under the weeping cherry and marvel at its beginning. I feel so acutely aware of every nuance of nature as I watch him flicker in the mauve and purple Angeliques. My mind wanders to Shardad Rohani's "Connie's Butterfly" in which the piano truly paints the butterfly's flight. I remember the first time I heard this music and how my body responded.

When I use the sprinkler nozzle to water the hanging basket near the large bird feeder I feel myself excited with anticipation. I know the chickadees will soon hear the water and come rushing to me. They fly directly toward the water and play in the mist, dodging the heavier spray but always getting their feathers wet. It is a game we play on warm days. We have 5 birdbaths on this property, yet the sound of the running water is the real lure for these playful birds. Sometimes as many as 40 chickadees dot the evergreen. Like tiny Christmas ornaments they sit above the feeder. They appear so suddenly I wonder where they were before the sound of the water caught their attention.

Above the magenta lilac bloom a bright periwinkle sky reminds me of other summer days when as a young girl I lay on my back looking up through the treetops. I was mesmerized then, making images of white clouds, watching my art change with the wind. It all felt surreal - my altered state of consciousness, though I didn't know the term as a child. So many "faces" looked down upon me as I gazed reverently above, always intrigued with shapes and movement. I've created a thousand pieces of sky art, each one different, uniquely mine.

Friday we saw our first hummingbirds of the season...3 at once playing in the top of a large cedar, whizzing and darting above the tallest branch, then lower and back up again. My husband was thrilled. He is always wistful to hear about my daily encounters with the tiny natural treasures, encounters which he misses as he busies himself inside an office far from nature's bounty. I see the hummers refuel their small tanks with sugar water in the mornings as I stand at the kitchen sink. Later in the afternoon they will fly in and out of the front rock garden enjoying the perennials we planted. It is a joy I never take for granted. Each sighting is as delightful as the first.

Wisteria hangs now on the arbor in clustered clumps of pale purple which fall in abandon over the trellis. The air is scented as I approach, and I react to the sweet fragrance by moving closer. Sometimes the sheer beauty of this garden overwhelms me. My eye catches the chartreuse blooms of the euphorbia behind the lavender laden arbor, the contrast making each more glorious. We will bring out the glass hummingbird feeders and hang them back in the rock garden since the perennials are not yet ready to nurture our tiny friends. We are happy the wisteria will serve as a temporary paradise during the coming days.

I love the way the oxalis is peeping out of an old tree stump. This clover-looking plant was a St. Patrick' Day gift I bought my husband a few years ago and is now living happily in the stump, rich with nutrients. It has never been more full or beautiful. The clematis at the edge of this bed is filled with blooms now as it winds its way up another arbor. Soon the vine will wrap the legs of the wooden arbor and by summer's end will hang overhead. We will nail a round wooden top to a very low, small tree stump here near the arbor. The stump is still strong and will serve as a base to the squirrel feeder we will mount. This will be a feasting table where corn and nuts are the breakfast buffet we give our precious squirrels. If we get too late a start on the day they place their orders by knocking on the door! Some were born here, none venture very far away, and one, a permanent grazer until dark, never leaves the bottom of the largest birdfeeder. He talks about the early bird getting the worm and laughs all day as he snacks heartily!

If I ever forget for a second the extraordinary beauty of this earth, one step outside our door reminds me that it is always near me, vast and omnipresent. Nature, the greatest artist of all, has painted this place where we live in every color on her palette. My heart sings.