Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dream Garden

Recently, Tami and I have been talking a bit about fairies. And yesterday she set something very special in motion for us.

She asked, "Why don't you plan and plant a fairy garden?"

I didn't even reply before Maria and I were in our favorite nursery and choosing Elfin Thyme, violas, and miniature mint. We found a sturdy sprig of Rosemary to serve as our evergreen tree. I chose a pale shade of Lobelia, with its tiny flowers, so perfect for a dream garden, a fairy land. Every plant we chose has healing, medicinal uses. We found a small fountain. I think the sound of water pouring, splashing, is healing.

Then William helped me find a couple of more plants and to bring home the big bags of potting soil we needed. At home we had a ceramic toadstool and garden frog, a bag of green gravel and pretty moonstones we saved from beach walks. Alex and Max joined us in filling our half barrel with potting soil and placing the fountain. We arranged and planted together. We planned a path to wind around the garden. We stepped back and smiled. We touched the water and stared down the path, to see it all from a fairy's point of view.

We agreed that it will be a work in progress, that we will always be able to change things, maybe add things. We sat daydreaming together. We were so happy to realize that this would be a garden we would not have to leave behind. Alex wants to take a daily picture so we can make a movie that shows the subtle changes, so we can replay the flowers blooming, the thyme filling in the bare spots. I have in mind something I saw in a shop, a little treat to surprise the children with.

Seven years ago we lost something... innocence, ease. I look for it. I look for fanciful things and simple pleasures. I look for ways to erase the hard edges of living in this modern world. We cannot go back to before, to September 10th, 2001. But I hope to remember that not all of what we lost has to be gone forever... No one is going to give us peace of mind or happiness, so I seek it out. I create times and spaces where we can daydream and enjoy our happy endings. I motivate myself with the wish, a belief, that the good we foster will grow and spread, that love and beauty will prevail. I find God's comfort in quiet places, where we are free to believe in light and joy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Orange Crush

Bring out your oranges! When I asked if it was too soon to for orange, I hoped to hear some points of view, and dear Nikkipolani came through with a glowing, scrumptious, spark of autumn. And Janece found beautiful orange too! There were a lot of colors in the garden that morning when Maria and I went on our little explore, but somehow the oranges kept popping out and calling for our attention. What happens? Is it just me? My favorite colors are on seasonal rotation, and the first cold snap, the first fallen leaf, triggers a passion, and rekindles my romance with the colors of fall. And once my orange crush takes over the senses demand more!

At first it may be subtle, like a brushstroke of orange in a bird's breast, a flower's petal.

Soon, I am totally smitten with the sun drenched warmth of citrus oranges, and deep, vermillion oranges, the subtle hues of peaches and ambers, the heat of peppery oranges and the dry, crisp hues of dead grass, fallen leaves, and buckwheat. From the cheeriest pumpkin orange to the fiery orange of persimmons and spice, to shades of earthy browns... my orange crush deepens.

And I learn there are so many oranges to enjoy.

Makes we want to bake, to spice a cake or season a stew. Makes me want to knit thick socks and read by a fire. Makes me want to walk in shaded woods, with light falling in fiery shafts. The warm yellow tones, darker than butter or chicks, suggest that summer is fading and it's time to prepare for longer nights, and colder mornings. It makes me want to harvest corn, and roast pumpkin seeds.

It's funny to think how such a hot color can evoke such cold notions, and here, in So Cal, we are hardly likely to find the real kind of cold that calls for knitting woolen hats and pulling on long socks. Am I conditioned to believe that there may soon be frost, that birds will fly south and that all the trees will be bare? Is it something intrinsic, or have I been watching too many movies?

If I leave the windows open over night, it may get just cold enough to inspire us to to bake a pumpkin cake, like Nikkipolani's, or to set aside some ripe bananas for a Cozy banana bread. And very soon, we will be thinking of visiting our favorite pumpkin patch. Then comes Jack-O-Lanterns and the harvest moon, hot cider, and Thanksgiving! Too soon? I know... it's just what happens when I get an orange crush!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Decisions, Decisions...

I could come home and do dishes, take care of more laundry, clear the kitchen counters, organize the school papers, clear the magic school bus, shower...

Or. I could go back to the gardens and clear my head, sooth my spirit.

Easy choice, but a difficult decision.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Too Soon?

Is it too soon for orange, for pumpkins, for foggy mornings and cups of hot tea? I know, I know... it's not even Autumn yet, and it's not that I want to rush the season and yet I do. Summer seems so faded and done, and I think my heart is eager to move ahead, in hopes of... something.

Maria and I met Geoff for breakfast, and on our way we came across this big surprise! Big, big, big, big pumpkins. One pumpkin was tossed over the fence, split open, and waiting. I think it was waiting for us. Maria peered in to it and discovered that big pumpkins make big seeds. Maybe this is part of the something that we hope for. We pulled out 3 plump seeds. We'll keep them for someday. It might not be safe to plant all 3 seeds! How much space would we need for vines that produce pumpkins of this size?

Inspired by the pumpkin garden, we decided to visit another garden we know of...

And there we were greeted by tiny blooms, fountains, ponds, trees and wind chimes, and seemingly endless paths. It was quiet in the gardens and we enjoyed listening to water slipping over stones, and birds calling. Maria asked whether flowers talk, and I said yes. She said, "No, I don't think so." I said sometimes we can talk without using words, like when flowers show their pretty selves and the butterflies, bees and children come to see how lovely they are. She agreed that flowers could speak, in their own fashion.

We stayed in the gardens for a long time. We chatted with the men and women working there. We read the little signs and talked about colors and shapes. We walked a lot, but slowly, taking in all the details.

Could I ever forget that this is Maria's Age of Why? We can get 3 or 30 Why questions in succession. "Why do these flowers smells like Hawaii? Why is Hawaii far away? Why is the flower grows in Hawaii?"

We are still planning the "derpday." Every day, with every passing fancy or bit of inspiration, Maria finds something new to add to her birthday plans, and we talked about those plans quite a bit while we walked through the gardens. She would like these tiny flowers at her birthday, and she kept the yellow leaf for her birthday too.

She wants to collect leaves and seed and flowers and make little fairies and princesses out of them, so they can be at her party. In the little shop she found butterflies made of tulle, wire and glitter, leaves too, and you can probably imagine her reaction to those! Yes, butterflies and Autumn leaves, sparkling and shimmering would be a very good thing for her derpday party. "And pumpkins, and pink roses, and a pond, and an apple tree." She's persuading me... it cannot be too soon to make plans, to think on wishes and dreams.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What We Saw

We were very good farmers yesterday. Max learned how to prune roses. Our landlord is responsible for the landscaping and upkeep, but his hired help have been neglecting a lot lately. I took it upon myself to cut back unruly vines and deadhead lilies, roses, daisies, and pull weeds.

Our yard waste is picked up for recycling, but if I want to cut back any more plants we'll need to bring home another barrel to haul the stuff away. We swept and dusted. We tossed odds and ends. The chicas seemed happy for the backyard company, and Max and Maria were happy for the industrious garden chores. Max and Maria worked together to pull up the sad and scraggly remains of the tomato plant, then they planted green beans. Max pulled dead flowers from Lola's garden, and maybe we'll get around to planting zinnia and dianthus today.

Before doing any more farm work, we filled our water bottles and made our way to a nature trail. Recent bluff failures closed the trail we usually we take, and did not know we were headed for an extra long detour, but as usual the hike was beautiful and worthwhile.

High above the Pacific Ocean, the views are refreshing and captivating. It sure would help to have the ocean to look at, to motivate my senses and muscles, on our way up!

We hiked for an hour and a half, or as Geoff noted, for an hour and twenty-five minutes. I could kick him for being such a stickler for accuracy. Lucky for him my endorphins were up, and my legs were wobbly. lol

Like we did on our last hike, Max wanted talk about gardening. Geoff told him he would love to have a garden, because he loves to see how happy we are in the garden. Maria wanted assurance that her daddy sees how happy she is in the garden too.

William and Alex were talking about Spore. I doubt I ever blogged about "Spore" and considering the 3 years of anticipation, I should have mentioned it once or twice. Now, finally, it is available, a game so elaborate and innovative it took since 2000 to complete. William has been filling my head with bits and pieces about the ingenious ambitions of this video game for a long time and I got an even greater appreciation for it after seeing this TED video. I think this is one of those milestone moments in gaming, and it's exciting to read, "Will Wright announced at E3 2008 that National Geographic would do a television documentary on Spore, as scientists use the game to explain real-life biological, physical, and evolutionary science; this is the same documentary that will be included with Spore: Galactic Edition. He also announced a partnership with SETI... " The game is installed here, on the new computer, and I know this won't be the last we hear about SPORE.

Setting in the sun, this little lizard on the buckwheat was not too shy.

Sheltered from the sun, Maria did a fair amount of the hike on her own 2 sturdy legs. She liked seeing the sunning lizards and finding the last of the season's flowers in the dry scrub. She's convinced we are climbing mountains when we are on this hike, and I guess from her point of view, we do scale some remarkable heights.

Sometimes we don't talk at all. We just walk and see the trail ahead.

Breath deeply.

Marvel, and sigh.

Just relax.