A Secret and Where It Led

By now most gardeners are rather chomping at the bit to get some seeds in the ground and get things moving, right? However even reckless I am watching the mountains that lie out at the perimeter of this valley eyeing the snow with respect and making the decision to wait it out until the ground is a tad friendlier-warmer to embrace my plans. So what do we do meanwhile? I’m a woman with a home and I know some of the things you do. You clean. You mend. You bake. You sort out papers and the closet and piles that were neglected during summer and fall. And strangely, for some of us (more than you might think if the poll I took today is any indication) we look at that jar of coins and think perhaps it’s time to get them processed and start over. Am I right? Anyway, that’s how it is here. I have been throwing extra (read, weighty) silver coins in a crystal jar and all pennies in their own separate container. (It was pink. Yes, I say was.) Periodically, probably around now, I pull out those little paper sleeves they give you at the bank and count them up and take them to the bank. I started recently with the pennies, which were spilling out of their (pink) pot. As I was counting (and recounting) pennies I watched the aggravation mount in my mind and found myself thinking what an enormous waste of time it was to sort pennies and bind them in round paper rolls. SURELY there was something better to do with them. The time expended was not worth the value of what they were going to return.

And then a little light went on and I thought with a big smile:

Find a penny
Pick it up
All day you’ll have good luck.

Bingo. And so on the spot I decided that if I couldn’t seed my garden, I could seed the sidewalk out front. With pennies. But only the shiny ones, I decided. Otherwise, it wasn’t the same. And so ever since, over the last couple of weeks I have religiously been planting a penny at a time directly in front of my house on the sidewalk. Oh, I’m very sneaky. I really don’t want any neighbors to catch on to what I’m doing. It’s my secret. So I bend over to pick up a “weed” which has traversed the lawn, or, whatever. You get the drift. And I leave the shiny penny.
And then I simply go back inside. And during the day when I feel like a nice stretch I go out front and see if it has disappeared. And usually it has. And then I leave another! How fun is that??

So largely I had decided I did not want to see who was finding those pennies. It was more fun to just imagine. And my intention, simply, was based in the realization that the value of the penny, IMHO, was more to be found these days in the old addage which we apparently all grew up with, than in any true monetary value. I mean, come on.

The Universe did give me a glimpse, however, into how this little secret might be panning out. I happened to legitimately be out in the lawn pulling up an offending little weed when two rather middle aged women who were out for a walk suddenly came to an abrupt halt as one eyed the penny. She snatched it up in a single sweep and held on to it like a victory, displaying it to her friend. You can imagine the smile that stretched across my face, as I deliberately turned away, when her friend pronounced animatedly, “And it’s a nice shiny one, too!” Oh, joy!

Satisfied that my secret foray into penny seeding indeed had merit, I decided to write about it and post it here. I needed a photo of a penny on the sidewalk. I went out and placed one squarely in the sun. Click. Refocus. Click. Refocus. Click. Refocus? What the hey? This is not working. Why not? Maybe it’s too flat. Maybe my camera (set on auto-focus, mind you) can’t DO flat. I look up. Two young Hispanic boys are approaching me. Ah-ha. Boys? I need you.
OK, here’s what you do. See this penny? YOU, I point at one, pretend to be walking along, spy the penny and pick it up and show your friend. Easy, right? Kids always think I’m slightly nuts but in a good way. They go along. Click. Refocus. Etc. Ad nauseum.

OK, reluctantly I accept that after all these years and all these photos my Pentax has a boo-boo. I take it to a camera store, straightaway. They say they will send it in for repair until they ask a critical deathly question. “How old is that camera anyway? Ten years?” Uh, more like 18. Uh-oh. I can see on their faces this was the Wrong Answer. They pronounce it dead and obsolete. (How could THAT BE? Did they see my photos on my post last week? Come ON.)

I turn this over in my mind and I decide to “Ride the Horse in the Direction He’s Going” as Werner Erhard used to say, and I ask immediately about a digital, rationalizing with amazingly rapid speed that maybe the Universe is sending me the message to Go Digital. As in finally. Hasn’t it been just a week since a visitor to my blog asked me what kind of camera I use and I confess it’s a 35mm? Did I tempt fate?

In ten minutes time I’ve decided I want the new Pentax digital. It just feels right, it looks right, and, besides, my birthday is right around the corner (always the driving post in any expenditure decision in my book–did you read about my diamonds???)

I come home. I hit google. I find three offers. I email David Perry WHILE I’m on hold at Abes of Maine. (Please be home. Please be home.) And as I’m placing the order David kindly emails me that, no he has not done business with Abes, but his father has and that’s all I needed to seal the deal. (Thank you, Mr. Perry.)

So it’s on its way. And then I wake up at 4:00AM and I find myself asking myself, “What if it’s not dead? What if it’s the auto-focus? What if it’s not the Universe necessarily wanting me to Go Digital? What if it’s the Universe telling me to stop using auto-focus and (gasp) learn to use a camera???

At dawn I dig out the manual, which, mind you, I have basically not read in 18 years. It’s true. And I find the page on auto-focus and I turn it off. (Hello? It’s a little button on the front. As in On/Off.) And I grin as I put FILM in my Pentax. And I aim. And I shoot. And it takes.

I am now meditating, being a metaphorical kind of girl, on what “being on auto-focus” means to the Universe. If you have any particular insights, do tell.

Love and blessings,

Oh, yes, Happy Birthday to Me. Official Birthday Girl photo herewith:

birthday girl

My cake said, “Happy Birthday Beautiful Me.” I kid you not. Here it is!


And here I am. Do I look HAPPY??? I am!

birthday girl

26 Responses to “A Secret and Where It Led”

  1. I love the story of the pennies and I might try that sometime. My mom says she can’t get any of her young grandkids to pick up a penny that is on their driveway. When she was little, she said, everyone always picked up pennies, because you could buy candy with one penny. I always stop when I see a penny and pick it up, viewing it as “pennies from heaven” a reminder that someone is thinking about me or watching over me!

    Good luck with your new camera and Happy Birthday to you!

  2. Hi, Carol! See? Aren’t the associations we have fascinating? I truly believe their real value is in the stories and myths we have about them! Thank you for the well wishes! Kathryn

  3. What a cool way to slightly mess with the universe.

  4. I look forward to the instant gratification of seeing your digital photos, because if you had the camera today, we‘d be seeing the pennies NOW… and maybe even the victorious smiles of the receivers. In any case, a lovely story, and Happiest of Birthdays to beautiful you.

    Aloha, p

  5. Hi, Pamela! Thank you! I have the camera. Today I’m going to read the manual! Kathryn xox

  6. Great post! Love the penny idea! 🙂

  7. THANK YOU! I have a photo of my cake. If someone would teach me how to convert an iPhone image to a jpeg I will post!! 🙂 Love, Mom

  8. Kathryn, I tried to leave you a message yesterday, but the computer wasn’t cooperating. Happy, happy birthday, my dear. I voted for you on Mouse & Trowel yesterday as the garden blogger I’d most like to have as a neighbor. Blessings~~Dee

  9. Awwww, Dee, thank you. That is incredibly sweet of you!

  10. I hope you enjoy your new camera! I can’t wait to see the pictures! I was slow going to digital too, but it is so awesome. I can’t imagine life without my THREE digitals now!

  11. Welcome, Robin! Thank you for the encouragement. Three?? I’m a teeny bit reticent, but hopefully by this weekend I will be in the swing! Then I add telefoto so I can catch the local birds! Kathryn

  12. Happy, happy birthday! I just had my 51st last month. I have to say I love your writing style. I look forward to reading your entries. And the story about the pennies is priceless!

  13. Hi, Brenda,

    So glad you enjoyed the story! Thank you for stopping by! Kathryn xox

  14. Delightful post, Kathryn. Indeed you do look happy and quite lovely I might add. Happy Birthday to a delightful woman with pen on fire … As the last holdout in North America for a microwave, I was also slow to join the digital age … you’ll get hooked, trust me, you’ll get hooked!

  15. Hi Kathryn!

    Since I was turned on to your website by our mutual friend, Pamela, I have always looked forward to opening up this site and drooling all over your photos of intense physical – and spiritual – beauty! I am a hopeless gardener, while also an architectural designer, and when I was actually making my living here on Maui being a professional gardener for some amazing gardens out here in the Pacific, I used to introduce myself, saying I dared “to be a gardener in Paradise”.

    Your photos set the scene, yet a true gardener realizes, as you so beautifully do in your writings, that the material exquisiteness of our gardens is a doorway into the flowering of our inner life.

  16. Joey: hi, my dear! Thank you for stopping by. You will believe me, right, when I tell you that I will never ever have a microwave in my home, nor will I knowingly eat anything that has been microwaved. Just won’t.
    Call it woman’s intuition. Thank you for your warm words! “Pen on fire!” I love it! Kathryn xoxoo

    Suzette: what a joy to hear from you, Pamela’s friend! Your kind words are deeply appreciated. I lived in P. Rico as a teenager, so I know something about what will grow in the tropics (everything!). Photos will come soon! I’m in a bit of a learning curve. Warmly, Kathryn

  17. Kathryn, I just LOVE your idea for your pennies!

    I hope you had a Very Happy Birthday!

    Enjoy that new camera.

  18. Hi, Linda! Welcome back. I’m so glad you love the Penny Seed idea. Maybe it will catch on, who knows?
    The International Penny Brigade, sowing hope and good wishes Worldwide! 🙂 Why not? We need all he help we can get! Kathryn

  19. Kathryn,
    A belated Happy Birthday and many many more all in good health!

    Loved your story on the penny! I still love finding one. When I grew up in a
    a small town west of Chicago, the saying was as you said, but here it is



    I think a little of the joy went out of finding a penny. Love ya

  20. Hi, Mary, Never heard that one before. Yeah, that would not be good for the International Penny Brigade! I wonder how many people have heard your Chicago version? More, I wonder who came up with that?? Kathryn

  21. Happy Birthday! What a lovely (and flattering) cake. 😉 I hope it was as delicious as it looked and that you had a great day.

  22. Thank you, Pam! And thanks for visiting. Yes, the Princess Cake was indeed very delicious. It’s a family tradition!

  23. What a gorgeous, “arty” cake!

  24. Welcome, Nicole, and thank you! This is called a Princess Cake. It’s a Swedish traditional cake and they call it Prinsesstårta. We love them as they are so light. Inside is a creamy filling, including a layer with raspberry. And the frosting (very rich) has a layer of marzipan just under that green sugary one! You don’t want it often, but is wonderful for special times.

  25. Wonderful story and happy birthday. After hearing the description above of the cake, all I can say is, where can we get one? That sounds so yummy. Hope you enjoy both your new and old cameras and take lots of fine photos for us to enjoy with you.
    Frances at Faire Garden

  26. Frances, check your local phone directory for Swedish bakeries. Good luck! Kathryn

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