even at this time of year, and maybe even especially (aka: don’t tell me there’s nothing)

 
 
In summer I swim.

In the spring I remember how my dad said spring is the best time in the garden because everything is just starting, every bit of green is a gift, a surprise, a joy… unlike in summer when there’s just too much… everywhere, too much colour, too much muchness. He was right of course.

In winter I traipse a labyrinth in the snow.

But it’s this time of year, before winter, when it’s no longer really fall, when the leaves are mush but the snow hasn’t come yet, that it’s easy to think there’s nothing left for you to see in the garden.

You’d be wrong of course.

Because it’s only now that a certain sun becomes visible again after being hidden behind the foliage of a giant dogwood.

And another that you’d forgotten was even there, tucked into a cedar where you never look.

And how would you ever find the bluebird that fell from its branch on the burning bush, a bird you never see in summer through the green leaves or in the fall through the bright red ones but now in the naked season, and only if you walk close enough to think:  hey where’s that bluebird??  —there it is.

Every year you swear this moss is new.

And every year you are reminded at least once of something that that will grow next year for the first time.

Every year at this time you marvel at the structure of ferns and grasses and how some stay greener than others as they sleep.

And if not for this time of year would you think as often of the friend who loves to get hydrangeas from you to dry and use to decorate her xmas tree.

Would you notice ornaments?

Or see tiny footprints outside tiny doors?

Would you remember patriotic moose (not to mention extremely quiet mice)?

What blows your mind every year is how it’s all there all year round, buried in snow or hidden by show-offy leaves turning orange and gold, not to mention being upstaged all summer long by purples and blues, yellows, reds and pinks… oh my god, don’t even talk to me about reds and pinks… so needylook at me, look at me!

Those pinks. Such hams.

Fred excepted of course.

~

wordless wednesday: summer postcards

 

Greetings from the garden tour!

(aka outdoor galleries of love, green stuff incidental)

The woman whose backyard is a solid field of day lilies (hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them) and who at first I think must be slightly unhinged until she explains her joy at every day coming outside to see what new bloom among dozens and dozens of varieties has opened. She not only grows them but cross pollinates to create unique hybrids and borrows her kids’ backyards because there’s no room in hers anymore. She wins awards.
Hers husband is on the patio, watching the crowds, and as I leave I stop and say to him, Nice place but you ought to consider getting some day lilies…

The woman who turned a tiny shaded downtown lawn into a glen of cool sanctuary complete with three locally made wrought iron pyramid towers and places to sit and contemplate them.

The woman with a deck full of passion flower vine and other tropicals who doesn’t have a sun room in her house but simply asks the plants to do their best in various windows and they oblige her and are stunningly beautiful and vibrantly healthy. Singing to them doesn’t hurt she says when asked for tips.

The woman whose yard is full of crazy objects, tea cups hanging from branches, giant wooden playing cards nailed over three sides of fencing, mirrors, bird feeders, figurines, mobiles, sun catchers, flea market and thrift shop finds… too much!!  my brain screams as I wander in and consider wandering out again but just then the woman appears and we talk and her joy changes the scene from something I don’t understand… to one that brings utter contentment and peace as she explains the pleasure it gives her to see it all from her kitchen, or from her place on the couch. She would rather look out the window than watch TV on a rainy day, she says. She puts this stuff out each spring and puts it away again in giant bins each winter. It’s time consuming and possibly a form of madness she laughs, but I shake my head, say it feels more like her form of art. She nods. Then she takes me round to the front to show me a few things I might have missed on my way in.

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

wordless wednesday: summer postcards

Greetings from Lake Scugog!  (Where I have no idea if the fish are biting because I’ve never fished here nor do I intend to.)

Tho’ I can recommend the halibut at the fish place on hwy 7A near Reid’s, the chip truck on Island Road and the curried mussels at Marwan’s Global Bistro.

(If you’re not feeling fishy, have the pizza at Pickles and Olives.)

(And I have it on good authority that the pasta is divine at Jester’s Court.
Sit on the patio.)

Or…

— drop by Scugog Arts Council or the Kent Farndale Gallery or rent a ship and do some paddling or drive over to the island and sit on Goreski’s patio and watch the paddling (and other) ships come and go, or stop by the perfectly sized Pioneer Village, or if it’s Saturday bring your canvas bag to the farmers’ market or visit Caviar and Cobwebs for treasures or Meta4 for, for… well, you’ll see, or say hi to Bill at Books Galore, and whoever’s at Willow books, or go to the chocolate place for chocolate, fudge and/or gelato or take a walk along Cochrane Street or the waterfront or over to Reid’s via the waterfront walkway or just hang out in the waterfront park with that gelato or that book and catch a few summery zzzzz’s while the seagulls serenade you and never once poop on your head.

It’s that kind of town.

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

this is not a review: summer reading

 

A Celibate Season,  by Blanche Howard and Carol Shields

A Vancouver woman leaves her family for a ten month assignment in Ottawa where she works on the National Commission for Women and Poverty. This is the 1980’s and she and her husband communicate by letter and occasional phone calls (when the phone bill has been paid and the line functioning). There are a few meet-ups during the ten months but they increasingly parallel the changes that each partner is experiencing as they discover themselves and each other through ‘abstinence’. Beautifully written, in alternating voices by Blanche Howard and Carol Shields in a kind of nifty repartee that just doesn’t exist anymore. Pity. (Also a gorgeous through line involving lentils… brilliant, actually.)

 

Excellent Women,  by Barbara Pym

How not to love a book that uses the word slut in reference to a woman who doesn’t keep an especially tidy kitchen.

“You’d hate sharing a kitchen with me. I’m such a slut,” she said, almost proudly.”

Or one who has no tea cups.

“I hope you don’t mind tea in mugs,” she said, coming in with a tray. “I told you I was a slut.”

(Set in the sluttish 1950’s.)

 

A Killer in King’s Cove,   by Iona Whishaw

A woman leaves England for a quiet life in the interior of B.C. where everyone seems on the elderly side and is suspected (or suspects) that most of the residents are running from something. The question is: who is, who isn’t?

I’m not a big mystery fan insofar as caring who dunnit, but I love a good story and this is one. Also, the fact that it’s set in the 1940’s and includes details such as a picnic where sandwiches are wrapped in brown paper (never mind the body that’s discovered in the creek at the same picnic)… and, well, you have my attention.

 

 

i prefer walking quietly, alone, however…

 
I make exceptions for certain people.

And dogs.

And always birdsong.

But this morning I would welcome the company of a serious bird brain, someone who could tell me who’s singing from the top of every tree, following me with very obvious intent to serenade.

The sound is too big for a chickadee dee dee dee.

And it’s not a robin, or a cardinal (& so ends my song recognition repertoire).

A botanist would be handy too. I’d ask what is this shrub in pink bloom that every year I swear I’ll make a note to go back and find when it’s fruiting so I know what kind of shrub it is and then always forget to check…

But the only person I see is a guy standing at the creek, facing the morning sun, just standing there, and then he raises his arms in salutation.

I recognize the impulse.

And so I walk very quietly by…
 
 
 

a love pome for february

 
 
A street.
A side street off a main street.
A gravel driveway that curves left.
A mailbox, red flag down.
Bucolic, ordinary.
I notice it as I drive past at main street speed.
And in that split second

I remember you and me,
rows of strawberries,
laughing red fingered,
picking baskets of fruit,

early, early, early,

before the heat of another summer morning found us.