GOD’S FAVORITE SEASON

Another new season has begun. Time to put away that which is light and airy, to be replaced with the somewhat deeper hues of beiges, browns and orange. Bright yellow makes way for softer mustard, voluminous red parts for calmer tawny greens and navy blues.

The colors of Autumn.

God’s favorite season, it is a time when the brillance that lies within all of us is called forth. Bursting in the shower of colors we possess, the aromas and flavors associated with such rainfall is as welcome as a comfy quilt on a cool fall evening. A parade of new growth before the first frost, it is a final reach for the heavenly presence felt when looking at the clouds and enjoying the essence of nothing.

The lake is translucent, the shimmering of diamonds on top the water. Rocks glisten in the path of the rays of the sun, calling us to listen one more time to the waves as they crash against the shore.

As the tide goes out and in and out again, it reminds me that time does not stand still, and does not wait for any being’s command or plea to stop or slow it’s pace. The trees are bulging with fruit, begging to be harvested and relieved of the burden one more season.

Time does not stop for heartbreak or disappointment, nor does it look the other way when one falls or is injured.

Perhaps the balm to deal with such feelings is the changing of the seasons; for it reaffirms the continuity of life, the discipline of sameness, and the gift of renewal.

Autumn has got to be God’s favorite season. It reminds us that we are mortal, and our legacy is what we allow it to be.

Advertisements

UPON FURTHER REVIEW

I had an English professor who began every one of his creative writing classes with the phrase “Upon Further Review.”

It was an exercise to encourage us to take a second look at the assignment we had presented the previous day. We were to read over what we had written and see how it could be made better, the flow of words easier to read and grammatically correct. Often the only tweaking required would be the removal or addition of a word, a restructured sentence.

I was occupied with other things besides writing, for I was one of the older students who had returned to school at age 38. I did the assignment but didn’t understand the need for the ‘further review.’ I had written what I felt was an adequate piece between cooking dinner and folding laundry, and felt no compunction to change anything; that mindset would later defeat me, hindering my reasoning and direction I should have heeded. Sometimes you do need to take a second look at things, to look at things with fresh eyes.

Summer of 2009 has been extremely rainy, and one I don’t think I’ll soon forget. I’ve filed it in my mind as the “Rainbow Summer,” since the mixture of the sun and low laying clouds has created more than I can remember seeing in one season. The rain has birthed beautiful flowers and strange fruit in our garden, the likes of which we’ve not witnessed before. What was first thought as an errant zucchini, has turned to a pumpkin, before deciding it is really a watermelon. I realized it was a metaphor for my life as well and the process I have taken to get where I am.

The rain has also produced the most magnificent blooms from my rose bushes as well. Given as wedding presents on a hot summer morning, we couldn’t wait to plant them.

Disappointment loomed for three seasons as the bushes were barely non-descript, the sweet petals munched up by beetles. The resulting roses were skimpy and odorless; we secretly hoped this wasn’t a harbinger of things to come.

Happily, this summer I’ve awoken to vases chock full of roses of every size. Their luscious aroma fills my head even before I open my eyes, knowing a bouquet has been placed on my bedside table, a good morning kiss from the one those least expected to be so romantic.

In fact, the kitchen and dining room tables are equally adorned with vases large and small, bookends to the calamities of the day ahead.

So upon further review, I will be thankful for this rainy summer of 2009 during the winter of 2010. I will remember to try to be more than just adequate, and to constantly tweak what I can to make life around me more beautiful and worth the effort.

As I travel back to those vases full of love, I will remember what they were created from – rain, roses and rainbows.

FLYING HIGH


I have always wanted to fly.

No, not in an airplane.

I mean fly. Literally.

Spread your arms out wide and feel your feet leave the ground. Terra firma beneath you no longer, the feeling of weightlessness and and the rush of cool air through your lungs. Looking at the tops of houses and trees, a sense of one with God and nature.

Thats what I imagine it would be like.

Never having the opportunity to pilot a single engine craft or even jump from one, the closest I come to it is driving.

I take a lot of good natured ribbing about my driving skills and my penchant for speeding. Never having received a speeding ticket (until last week, that is, but that’s another column) I love getting on the open road and just pushing the pedal down as far as it will go.

But I have found something that comes almost as close to flying.

Sitting next to him in the truck, I experience the thrill of flying without having to navigate.

Out in the apple orchards there are miles and miles of nothing but trees. They create their own mini highways that we can travel up and down, faster, faster and faster still! I close my eyes and I can feel us leave the ground. The wind whips through the open windows, blowing my hair in my eyes and taking my breath away.

Every dip in the road makes us airborne for a few seconds and we brace ourselves for the landing. The dust blows behind us as we enter each dirt road, ready to do it all over again. Heaven on earth, I realize my childhood dream of flying.

Yet another perk of living here in God’s country, and enjoying life with the man God intended me to be with at this stage of my life.

A simple thrill for a simple woman, I have learned to appreciate even the smallest of gifts.

Like flying.

THE THIRD WEEK OF AUGUST


I wanted to establish a new tradition with my children, as their father and I are no longer husband and wife. I wanted them to know that although we were no longer together, we were still a family, still connected forever. I wanted to teach them about forgiveness and acceptance, redemption and love.

Little did I know I would be the one receiving the lesson.

“Come to the cottage the third week of August”, I had commanded them, my children who were no longer babies, but how I continue to see them.

“Wherever you are from now on, whatever you do with your life, always keep in the back of your mind we will always get together the third week of August. It may not be here at the Lake, it may be another place, it may even be at home. But it is the week we will all be together.”

I had made all the arrangements, all the schedules intact, all the transporting accomplished. On child in the service obviously couldn’t make it, and another couldn’t get the time off work. One daughter was traveling with my grandkids and would arrive later, a wonderful surprise.

With a request could she bring her father with her, the biggest surprise was that he wanted to come.

Still smarting over what he viewed as my leaving abandonment, he was able to put aside whatever feelings he had towards me and spend this time together with our children and grandchildren.

Aware that I am with someone else, he was able to see past the immediate and looks towards the future. His future will be with someone new, not the familiar and comfortable me. What was important now was our children, the wonderful men and women we had raised, a history not totally full of anger or betrayal, but the history of young love and growing family. It is that which we will hold on to and draw strength from when things are hard to bear, tough to deal with. It was a wonderful example of love and forgiveness for our babies.

We ate a meal together without anger or anguish, the first dinner since the beginning of the end, so many years ago. A simple meal of hot dogs, hamburgers & beans, a soothing dessert of smores and fresh, hot coffee. Barely speaking to each other directly, we knew what we had to do.

I had done this before, remained friends with a former husband, but this was different. The first time we were so young and immature, the only reminder of the union was a beautiful son. This reunion was unique, a long history shared and many wonderful memories to replay and relive. Not to go back, not to wish things were different. Just to hold in the palm of our hand, examine and appreciate when what was good was great, and what wasn’t was left behind. We will part as friends.
After the goodbyes and the oldest left with her father, I sat back with yet another cup of coffee to revel in what I had witnessed. He has not forgiven me, but I had forgiven myself. He has allowed himself to be part of the life I want, in whatever form it takes for him, whatever limitations I decree. For all we have is today. Yesterday is over and tomorrow still a glimmer in our minds, vapors in a cloudless sky. Our children now see us as we really are.

Human.

A wonderful lesson learned again at the direction of the Creator, May my eyes always remain open and aware to the beauty around me, to be thankful for the gifts of life, the snippets of happiness we can all cherish.

It’s the thankfulness of the heart that keeps life fulfilling. The first step in healing is forgiveness, of not just others, but of our selves as well.
The third week of August will be different next year, I am certain. But I will be forever changed and remember.

It’s the week we all moved on.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Seven years have passed since we had our first gathering on the lake. It was not the lake I live at now, but it would not have mattered if it had been. It was a foreign a place as any for my children who were coming to terms with what I had done.

I had looked at it all one day and decided that I no longer belonged there, with their father and the life we had made together. For those on the outside looking in, it looked like a foolish and cruel thing to do, to pack it all in after 25 years and walk away. Only those closest to me would understand why I had done what I did and why I hung in for so long.

The Third Weeks in August are somewhat different now. Although they are always welcome to come to the lake to see Nana and Grampa Steve, they no longer come alone.

Now there are wives and boyfriends, aunts, uncles and cousins; new babies and babies yet to show their faces. They are all loved and welcomed here, as they have missed the circumstances leading up this idyllic paradise where their mother now lives.

I can even imagine their father coming one day for a visit to stick his toes in the cool water, look out to see the white puffy clouds and feel the love of family wash over him.

The Third Week in August will always hold a special place in my heart. It is the week of compassion, forgiveness and family.

Probably the best gifts we give each other, and ourselves

MARTIN PURPLE MARTINS

A lovely surprise

images[2] (8)Every now and then our walks take us down to the Lake and amongst the other people that live there.

Some are visitors, setting down root for the season. Summer cottages groaning with arms and legs, and the walls bursting with the laughter of little kids and young adults, all wishing they could live there year round, and not have to go back to work or school when the leaves begin to fall.

Amongst late afternoon card games of gin rummy and euchre, the kids run around with the dogs, in and out of the lake. The screened back door slams with each entry and exit from the cottages quiet only for an hour or so when Mom calls for “Dinner!”

One of our walks this wet summer evening led us to a fellow I had never met before. He is an avid caretaker for his own summer company, birds named Purple Martins. Migrating from Toronto to Brazil, they stop at his nesting area to refuel and also spend their summer. A summer vacation for the Purple Martins, they know where to go, for they return every year to this gentlemen’s sparse but efficient abode.

When I first spied the accomodations, I thought they were some kind of high tech computer equipment or a radar tracking system. Upon closer inspection, however, it was clear to see they were modern looking birdhouses, or nesting gourds as he called them. Some he ordered online, others are natural gourds, painted the same beige color of the modern ones.

“They are a facinating speciman” he lectured as we stood there, mouth agape at all the birds returning en masse. It was feeding time.

“If you happen to see a fledgling on the ground, just pick it up and put it over there” he continued, pointing to a feeding station. Two levels of flat brown platforms were full of seeds.

“The others will take care of it as if it were there own.” I thought this odd, as others birds abhor human contact. In fact, if you touch a fallen baby blue jay, the mother will abandon it, once she smells the scent of a human upon it. I asked him about it.

“True” he said. “But not the Purple Martins.”

What a world it would be, I thought, if we all just took care of one another.

It was getting late, time for us to get home. The bugs would soon be biting and we wanted to get back home to our deck to watch the sunset.

I realized that I never got his name. So I shall call him Martin.

Martin Purple Martins.

STEP ON UP

200530202-001[1]I love shoes.

Of all the things that I could buy in this world, it always comes back to shoes. I don’t think it’s an obsession really; but, somehow, I seem to gravitate towards shoe stores no matter where I am.

They can be made from the finest leather, online or available at Bloomingdale’s or knock offs from Payless, it doesn’t matter. The heel can be flat, or quarter inch, or hooker length, as my daughter calls them. It never matters.

Suede loafers at J.C. Penny for Autumn, wood sandals by Candies in the Summer, leather sling backs by Highlights for the Spring. Then there are the special occasions, such as weddings or funerals that require studs or velvet. Whenever a new dress was bought it just didn’t seem right to wear “old” shoes with them.

My relationship with shoes began when I was thirteen years old. For many years previous my mother had taken my sisters and I to purchase white patent leather shoes to go with a new Easter Outfit. It was the only time I got new shoes, the other being School Shopping Day, where I would be the lucky recipient of Hush Puppies when they WEREN’T cool to go along with my plaid jumpers. One time I snuck my tap shoes into my gym bag because I wanted to wear heels. I must have been a sight click clacking down the street. But I felt great.

That year was different, however. It was as if a light had been turned on behind my eyes, all these beautiful objects of fashion sprung to life before me! I couldn’t believe the difference between the different manufacturers and the styles. It was nirvana. The smell of finely made shoes is intoxicating. It was also the first time I was allowed to wear High Heels. A white patent leather shoes with an ankle strap and quarter inch heel, I was forever hooked on what was the precursor to the Pump. It made me feel so grown up, so special.

I was a woman.

The only problem was that I was a clumsy woman. My mother wouldn’t let me get them unless I “broke them in.” I think she just wanted me to practice walking in them so I wouldn’t kill myself. Now I can run the 100-yard dash in them (and have on a bet when I was 25. Ah, youth.) Having all those kids strengthened my ankles and tightened my calves.

I could wear three-inch heels to a dance and not feel a thing. Nowadays they make them in 5 inch, but I know that’s a recipe for disaster for me.

I know I’m going to end up as one of those old ladies who has lipstick on her teeth and a poodle by her side.

But, hey. I’ll be wearing some great looking shoes as I drag that walker behind me.

GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES

You will need a reason to laugh – create the memories now when they are young.


I have a friend that emailed me today with the following: “If I have to referee one more fight between these three kids, I’m gonna loose my mind!”

Boy did that bring back memories.

I asked her if she had a Grilled Cheese Sandwich moment.

She didn’t. So I told her mine.

It had been another long winter and I had just left the doctors office with what seemed like the hundredth prescription for Amoxicillin, the medicine for ear aches.

My kids were 4,5,6,9 & 11 years old at that time and they seemed to pass the dreaded illness from one to another. At least they took turns.

It seemed like we traveled in a pack back then, since I couldn’t ever get anyone to baby sit them on such short notice during winter break.

We were headed to a diner, as it was close to suppertime and I was beat. They had been fighting and picking at each other all day, partly because one was out of sorts, partly because they were getting hungry, and mostly because it was boring and Annoy Your Sibling was the game of the day.

They were pros at that game. At half time they would play the Let’s Make Mom Pull Her Hair Out Game. That usually occurred in the evening and that’s how I knew it was time for bed. For me.

We had been ushered in and were sitting at the table waiting for the waitress to come to take our order. They were still called the politically incorrect moniker of “waitresses” back then and not “servers.”

I had every intention of getting them a meatloaf dinner, or chicken, or stew, something substantial. It was my way of relieving my guilt over not being home over a hot stove.

It was a busy evening as everyone else in town had the same idea. It took a little longer than usual for the waitress to come over, and had only given us our water.

Which had been spilled several times. And salt shakers contents all over the table. And straw papers made into spit balls. And someone was whining because they were hungry. And someone else was antsy because they had to pee. For the twelfth time. Ah, the power of suggestion.

Finally I snapped. I sat straight up and made a motion with my hands, like an umpire at a ball game calling a player Youuurrrrr out!

“That’s IT!” I hissed in a voice like Boris Karloff,

“You’re all getting grilled cheese sandwiches. Do you hear me? Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!”

The whining stopped. Actually they stopped breathing for a minute. They were stunned beyond words.

And then it happened. One of them started to smile.

Then the other started to giggle. Then another started to cough, and before we knew it we were howling on the floor.

My kids do a mean imitation of their mother, and whenever things started to get tense as they entered the teenage years, one of them would stop, make the umpire motion and say “You’re all Getting Grilled Cheese sandwiches!”

It never failed to make us stop what we’re doing and laugh our butts off till we cried.

So my advice to my friend was this: Find a grilled cheese sandwich moment.

If you have kids you’re going to need it.

Every now and then I think about that day and the reaction they had to my frustration. In the big picture, it was just another day of kids being kids.

I’d give anything if they were all together again, fighting and annoying the hell out of each other.

So I go to the diner and I order one for myself.

Somehow, it makes me feel a little better.