Consider Jolene.

Jolene likes warm summer rain, being read to under a tree in the shade, old movies, slow dancing, soft dog noses, and good conversation.  Perhaps I ought to tell you that Jolene is a potted plant.  But a potted plant with a definite personality. 

Jolene was a gift to me from a human friend.  It was about a year ago.  The human friend did not know that I have never been very good with raising potted plants.  And Jolene is a succulent.  A plant that confounds me even more than usual.   more “Consider Jolene.”

Dog corners and secondhand bookstores.

“Secondhand books are wild books, homeless books; they have a charm which domesticated volumes lack.” – Virginia Woolf

Wild books, homeless books, charming books … used books are the best sort of books, I think.  I even tend to judge a town or place by the quality of its used book stores.  And this morning, I began to suspect that Quincy the dog may have a similar type of cataloging for local corners and walking paths. more “Dog corners and secondhand bookstores.”

Being twelve, awkward, tender, and wise.

The boy coming toward me in the grocery store aisle was young – perhaps 11 or maybe 12 years old (I’m not terribly good at guessing these things).  He was close  to my own height (so not tall) and had a certain sense of vulnerability about his face and posture.  He was definitely younger than 14 – that time in life that in legal terms is called “tender aged” – a term I’ve always appreciated for its sensitivity to this gentle, unsure, inexperienced, age of being. more “Being twelve, awkward, tender, and wise.”

This time of hope and faith.

The man was a farmer, deep in rural Indiana.  He was physically strong, perhaps due in no small part to the fact that he still plowed and harvested with a team of horses.  He was equally strong in his religious beliefs – so committed, in fact, that after every fall’s harvest, he gave away his team of horses.  He was that convinced of the imminent second coming of Christ.  He was absolutely sure in his heart that God’s love for the world would be manifested in this real, tangible way, before Christmas, certainly before the end of the year.  When, in the following spring, this miracle had not yet happened, he would dutifully buy a new team of horses, and plow and plant another crop.  more “This time of hope and faith.”

The beauty and wisdom of hedgerows.

“God, in his infinite wisdom, created the earth.  Man, in his infinite impatience, has been rearranging it ever since.”

These are the opening words of a video presentation that I wrote for a client more than 40 years ago.  The client was a manufacturer of large earth-moving and construction equipment.  

But suddenly, 40-some years later, the words had jumped up and were poking me in the head again.  I was looking at pictures of hedgerows at the time.  And variations of this theme kept coming to mind. more “The beauty and wisdom of hedgerows.”

Gardening with words.

I always have to stop and consider how to spell the word “spirit.”  There seems to be a conspiracy between the “r” and the “p” and at least one “i” to try and trade places, or want to duplicate themselves far too many times.  But spelling it correctly has become rather important to me just now.  Because I may decide to literally etch it in stone.  Or brick.  Or cement.  Or perhaps wood. more “Gardening with words.”

Leave the edges wild.

“Leave the edges wild.”

I read those words someplace recently.  They aligned absolutely with my heart and soul.  I believe they came from the lyrics of a song.  They do sing in my thoughts.  “Leave the edges wild.”

Perhaps it is because I have been working in my yard so much lately, but “leave the edges wild” certainly seems to apply to my gardening philosophy.  It lets the wild things just be – all vines and moss and dragonflies, bird nests and grasshoppers, worms and clover and roly-poly bugs.  It’s mother nature with torn pockets and messy hair. more “Leave the edges wild.”

Look for the Mockingbirds.

It was just a slight graze – the nose of one car slid across the back bumper of the other car.  No one’s fault more than the other’s.  Just too much traffic.  Too much hurry.  A blind crossing.  In the blinding heat of the summer.  

It happened right behind me, so I saw mostly mirror images of it all.  But I heard the anger as it railed through my open windows.  I felt the fierce and hostile energy as it slammed against my ears and eyes and heart.  Where was the compassion?  I expected more from women.  I always do.  No one asked, “Are you alright?”  No one claimed “I’m sorry.”  Just accusations and assumed righteousness.  And the lone daughter in one of the cars watched.  Her face was twisted, as she watched and listened and learned.

The light changed then, I had to move on.  I couldn’t help, and it made me cry.  Tears as hot and wet as the day.  Sadness for the energy that broke into my heart and crushed down into me.

As I drove slowly forward, my eyes lifted up and caught in the wires and cables over our heads as they carried their own currents of energy and power.  And on the wires perched rows of birds.  Birds watching.  Birds listening.  Mockingbirds. more “Look for the Mockingbirds.”

Trusting Marigolds.

They’re sun yellow and fresh orange and rust red.  And they show their brilliant colors even as they pull their tidy green skirts tightly up around themselves – both when they are shyly beginning to greet the world, and when they are reluctantly leaving it.  

I suspect it’s one of the things I admire most about marigolds.  I can never tell if one of their colorful blooms is just being born or just beginning to die.  They look identical to me.  That’s why I hesitate to pinch them off.  I’m never quite sure if I may be pinching off one that is just getting ready to let the sunshine kiss its face, instead of one that is stepping back from the light, closing itself away to prepare new seeds for the next generation.  more “Trusting Marigolds.”

My Summer of Talking to Foxes.

It was 3:00 a.m.  And it was the third night in a row.  The scream (for there was nothing else to call it) came from nearby, and woke me from a sound sleep again.  It was not human – definitely animal – but not cat or dog or rabbit or bird.  Nothing in pain.  It sounded intentional, yet not frightened or even angry.

It screamed again – long and shrill and primitive.  And it echoed around the hollow stillness of the neighborhood.  Everything else was absolute silence.  My windows were open to the night, but I could see nothing in the moon shadows.  Nothing but the shadows.  

And so, without consideration, compelled by another wild scream, and something more than simple curiosity, something more like instinct, I ran out into the street, without shoes on my feet, but with a flashlight in my hand.

And there she stood.  Not half a block away.  Alone and alert.  A beautiful fox, screaming. more “My Summer of Talking to Foxes.”