Cherish the Beauty of the Season

Antonia&Kathryn500
I must confess that all summer long I have been hovering over a particular
canna lily just outside my front door hoping it would blossom before
summer’s end. Last year it did not have time to come to fruition. This
year I have not been disappointed and I take great delight in the spectacular
persimmon colored lilies that now grace the entrance to my home.

Three decades ago I was hovering over my own splendid blossom inside
my own round tummy. Inside was a precious being getting ready to emerge who was my own beloved Antonia.

Unfettered by any ground outside my front door, I took my round tummy to Acapulco, to stroll and lounge in the sun on the beaches I had come to love in my post-college days. I have always felt so comfortable in Mexico. It is the place of my soul, the culture of my heart, and Spanish the language of my joy. I have returned over and over again to nurture and restore myself, and to rekindle my faith in humanity, resting in the kindness of the Mexican people and their profound open hospitality. This was the perfect place to be pregnant, in a mother country, in the culture that honors the Divine Mother, whose walls in homes and churches and wayside stations abound with the holy mother. Candles burn to her as a daily part of life. People pray to her. Women are deified, share the holy trinity, are blessed, honored, and included. Yes, this was the place where I wanted my child to grow within me, steeped in the lilting accents heard in the marketplace, in the crashing of blue waves on white sandy beaches, in the glaring sun of the tropics, in the clean air sweeping off the Pacific Ocean into the surrounding parched hillsides. Here is where my Antonia grew.

She drew sustenance from pineapple and mango, papayas and watermelon, and coconuts slathered in lime juice and a bit of cayenne for good measure. Strawberry liquados made with fresh milk. Fish caught fresh from the sea. She grew quietly and slowly, listening to the music of the mariachis who lined the boardwalks each evening. She baked in the sun by day and moved rhythmically inside her mother’s womb as her mother joyfully danced with friends by night. We slept late and peacefully, then awoke with nothing, really, to do except to enjoy another day at the beach, another day of being with world travelers, another day of great joy and pleasure and gratitude. Such was her early journey on Earth…

What precious season do you cherish most? What beauty that will not linger? What opportunity that you must hold dearest to your heart your whole life through in deepest gratitude, knowing that you have been profoundly touched with one of life’s greatest lessons, gifts and blessings? And thusly we cherish the beauty of our seasons.

Happy Birthday, Antonia!

Love and summer blessings,
Kathryn xxoox
roses475
This post was excerpted from the chapter “Cherish the beauty of the season” from my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy. To read this in its entirety and many other stories, please check your local indie or Barnes and Noble bookstores, or you may purchase on Amazon. Thank you.


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Flower Games of Children

Summer brings the abundant gift of many kinds of flowers, and, so, it was not unlikely a friend and I would begin reminiscing recently about games we played as children with various blossoms and plants in our childhood gardens. Here are the ones we most readily recalled.

Daisy chains
Daisychain
“Daisy chain” by User Ecrips on en.wikipedia

Who has not spent time sitting in the grass lacing daisies together into a lovely chain, which one could then decide how to use–as a bracelet, a necklace, or, if long enough, as a crown in our hair? What a lovely memory.

Wishing on dandelions
dandelion
It actually tickles me as an adult that I would blithely and most happily pick a dandelion as a child and feel no guilt whatsoever in blowing their seeds into the wind, scattering them to neighbors’ gardens, focusing solely on the granted wishes they might bring me and the sheer delight of watching them drift away in the breeze. Ha!

Blowing across a blade of grass
Grass
Long ago, Aboriginal people discovered that blowing across a blade of grass placed between the thumb and index finger produced a musical sound. This childhood delight was most likely our first experience of making and using a “primitive” wind instrument! The memory of this brings a smile to my lips. Yours, too?

Hollyhock dolls

holly

Hollyhock dolls are one of our earliest garden delights! Did your mother or grandmother teach you how? You pick a bud for the head, a half opened blossom for the core and a fully opened blossom for the skirt. They are assembled readily with a toothpick here and there. I’m guessing I have readers who are grandmothers who have passed this garden loveliness on to their grandchildren. Right? :)

Finding four-leaved clovers
clover
When I mentioned to my daughter I was internally composing this post she immediately suggested searching for four-leaved clovers, which she loved to do as a child. Four leaved clovers are simply a variation of the more common three leaved clover. If one finds one “by accident” it’s regarded as special, bringing good luck. The four leaves are believed to represent faith, hope, love, and luck. I would regard this as a particularly endearing and positive garden game to introduce to the children in our care.

What were your favorite flower games in the garden? I’d love to hear.

Love and summer blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: An excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is running in the summer issues of both GreenPrints (North Carolina publication) and GreenWoman magazine. Also, I want to thank each one of you who has taken the time to post your wonderful reviews of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy on my Amazon page. So appreciated! You have no idea how this warms an author’s heart! :)


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Another Part of Life

clouds
Anyone who has read Plant Whatever Brings You Joy knows I’ve not shied away from addressing the full spectrum of life in the garden, which includes the passing away and letting go that comes bound into our life contract. Flowers, beloved puppies and cats, trees, and, ultimately, our own dear bodies. Having entrusted myself with much of the writing of the final chapters of my Grandmother’s life, who lived to be 100 years old, I learned a lot! One of those lessons was the sacred duty of how to handle her final resting place, once she had departed. Fortunately, and amazingly, in her case, her father, who died a month after she was born (thus 100 years prior!) had dutifully and lovingly purchased a family plot which I had access to for her. And so she was buried a century later with her Danish father, Norwegian mother and baby sister, Rendena Helena. Lesson duly noted.

The truth is I’d been rather scouting cemeteries for years in both Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. There is a tiny one surrounded by an old fashioned iron fence that sits on a hillside that can be seen from the highway. Utterly enchanting. And utterly closed, I’d learned. I’d considered two in the town of Mendocino itself, but upon learning at Mendocino Botanical Gardens that (supposedly) 40 acres of land was swept into the ocean by a tsunami, only just north of the cemeteries, I thought, uh, no. As the family historian, this would not do. At all.

And then organically I found myself drawn to a pioneer cemetery in the heart of Mendocino County. I found this spot, which is a certified nature habitat, to be a place of comfort, solace, beauty and intrigue. And, interestingly, years later my daughter had the same response, as she would find herself going there to meditate. It has a very old feel to it, there is an extended family of deer who live among the tombstones and towering trees, and ravens and woodpeckers find easy refuge among the branches. At the far edge is a California vineyard; at another edge a school playground, and, thus the sounds of children playing is a common and unexpected sound by day. At dusk older children come and stand beneath the trees to meet and chat and have a sense of privacy.

deer

And, so, I inquired. And, yes, a very old section of the cemetery had recently opened up and so a family plot was secured. I then took it upon myself to design my own gravestone, working with a company in Seattle, choosing a certain granite, a pattern, and the script, adding a line from a song I once wrote, adapting it to my own life and choices. I was there when they laid it in the ground, which seemed at the time a precious and light hearted task, rendered by two kind men who keep the grounds. It was not a bit solemn, however. But very respectful. It lies just below a very old cedar tree, a beauteous feat of nature.

cedar
I am pleased and at peace with this choice. Nearby grows a towering redwood. A small chapel stands ready to greet those who have reason to come.

chapel

Both my daughter and I are aware that there are many stories here. We both feel the same thing. Now my own story is being woven among them.

I want to reassure my friends and readers that I am fine and well, and even more-so knowing I’ve written this chapter of my life, having made loving arrangements that will ease the lives of those who remain for their time on Earth, which at the moment includes me! I could never know how this all unfolds, in actuality, and surrender to my own destiny. But meanwhile I’ve entered into a spiritual endeavor we each will encounter, by taking conscious, creative, and loving care of myself and my family.

On Memorial Day I decided that with all the graves I might have tended all too far away, I would visit briefly my own. Why not? When I arrived I found someone had poked a fake green shamrock into the ground just above my headstone and I laughed, saying out loud, “Someone is tending my grave already and I’m not even dead yet.” That tickled me.

I cleaned the granite of cedar leaves, dug up a wayward clover (of the naughty variety), and took note of the adjacent headstones. I noted with interest that Mr. M. had been buried, and his wife’s name was also on his stone, but apparently she was still alive. I wondered if our paths would ever cross?

Finished with my visit, I decided to drive a bit about the narrow roads that crisscrossed the cemetery, taking time to exit and snap the little deer above. I grinned, as this is actually where I felt safe to get used to driving my new Jeep last year. I joked, “If anything goes wrong, I won’t have far to go!” Satisfied, I drove one more time back to my own plot, and lo and behold, Mrs. M. was tending her husband’s grave! (It was Memorial Day, afterall!) I exited the car, noting she also drives a Jeep, and extended my hand to her, “You must be Mrs. M.! I was wondering if I might ever meet you!” We chatted a bit, and I noticed then she had two dogs in her car. More synchronicities! She said, “Maybe we will see each other again.” I flashed her a big smile, “Yes! On the other side!”

Yesterday I returned to do something I’d been planning for quite some time–to introduce violets into the grounds around my headstone. Will they withstand the deer? It’s chancey, but perhaps! I’m hoping so!

Love and summer blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: The summer issue of GreenPrints has been published and editor Pat Stone, who was longtime gardening editor of Mother Earth News has included an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, which he has illustrated with an original drawing! Thank you, Pat!


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