Archive for August, 2009

Morning Mist--1

The early signs are subtle, and could easily be overlooked by some.  But when one is out every day, observing the details of creation, the early indications of change are evident everywhere.  What Keats called “the season of mellow fruitfulness” is at hand.

Weeks ago, I spotted a fuzzy caterpillar.  Was he prematurely trying on his winter coat?  (I’ve been wearing mine on early morning walks most of this cool summer.) 

The purple asters began blooming in mid-July.  Along with goldenrod which showered golden around August 1st, the purple aster is among the first harbingers of autumn here in the wild north.

Canada goose families, quiet during nesting and early child rearing, are noisy now–circling overhead and teaching their young to fly.  Some geese may hang out here way into October or even later.  One always hopes they will linger.  The annual finality of our bay and river bereft of Canada geese is heartbreaking.

Meanwhile, the circle of foliage around our bay has grown lighter.  The dawn picks up glints of gold among the green, and the green is no longer that deep, inpenetrable shade of full summer.  Up in the national  forest we see welcoming arms of red waving out from the maples along the trails.  The tips of some maples on our land are showing red as well.

Each day I walk along our drive, and up our back hill through the woods.  These walkways are flanked by 3 different varieties of ferns.  (I love the English term, “bracken”.)  Now the ferns are fading and turning rusty gold. 

The daisies are phasing out, and black-eyed Susans are fading.  Sometimes I stumble on a lone orange hawkweed, persistent in its refusal to give up its season in the sun.  The thistle flowers are spectacular, reminding me of my Scottish roots.

Daylight diminishes a bit more each day.  With daylight savings, our early mornings are dark now.  I love to get up early, and now I wake up before the dawn.  The light still lingers at twilight, but it fails to fool us.  After the September equinox darkness will fall with a thud, like a stage curtain at the end of the play signaling “No more encores.  This is THE END!”

In a sense, this is the end for us too–the end of year-around living in our northern home.  One week from tomorrow (God willing and the creeks don’t rise) we’ll be en route to our new locale in Southern Wisconsin–also home to us, as we lived there much of our lives.

The seasons will be perceptibly different there, 290 miles south.  We will back up, and enjoy the early signs of Autumn all over again.  And the joyous springtime will come 3 weeks earlier there–while our northern lakes are still frozen and still.

Autumn is at hand, reminding us that for everything there is a season!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

More Fantasy--2

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Sunday is visiting day

The above picture, titled “Sunday is Visiting Day”, was taken on a peaceful summer Sunday afternoon 2 years ago.  It depicts a neighbor whom we cannot take with us when we move, and a few of the many bottles which we can.

From nearly everyone our age, we hear a strange-to-us word:  “Downsizing”.  Downsizing is the stereotypical thing for folks our age to do.  Joe and I are “downsizing” in the sense of moving to a smaller home, with no yard to call our own.  Obviously some large furniture items will be left behind.

But when it comes to the items that go inside a home, we are definitely not stereotypical.  In fact, I really dislike the word “downsizing”.  It’s on my linguistic hit list, along with “simplicity”, “minimalism”, and “getting rid of clutter”.  To me, getting rid of clutter would mean getting rid of a joyous quality of life!

Just a little creativity will show you how much we’ll be able to cram into our 4 room condo.  The tangible tokens of memories will move right along with us.  I don’t believe in getting rid of a life–and that’s what “downsizing” would be for us. 

Nearly every object in our home has a story or association attached.  Of course, I ultimately can’t take it all with me.  But, as our granddaughter Alicia says, “That’s why we should enjoy it all now!

I expect some of you readers are saying, “It’s okay to move family heirlooms and “valuable” stuff.  But bottlesArizona Tea bottles?”  And I imagine this is being said in a tone that implies, “Are you nuts?”

Yes, I am nuts.  Nuts about bottles, and really nuts about Arizona Tea bottles.  They ring my chimes.  But in a sense, I am doing a tiny bit of “downsizing”.  From my collection of some 80 or 90 Arizona Tea bottles, I gave many to a neighbor who is a fellow junker and collector. 

For our condo, I saved out one of each design of Arizona Tea bottles.  (All right, with the exception of the Native American.  I’m keeping 2 or 3 of him, because he is so beautiful.) 

A plethora of boxes full of other kinds of bottles are packed and ready to move.  I amost, but not quite, wish I could bring the above-pictured Sunday visitor along with us.  Reason tells me that would be going too far in my desire to remain unique.  I’ll be contented with moving 2 large cartons full of my beloved, cuddly stuffed bears.

But Heaven preserve us from ever being stereotypical!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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Good Catch

Finally it’s summer!  Gone are those 40 degree mornings, and raw days which threatened to be all we would get this year.  We are having beautiful days, in the 80s.  Soporific days of fishing, reading, sleeping, and lollygoggling about on the screen porch.  Our Denver grandsons, Nathaniel and Joel, arrived yesterday.  When they are here, they bring the essence of summer.  Now the weather is cooperating.

We went upriver today, and Joe landed the above-pictured northern.  We’ll have our fish fry at home tonight.  At this moment, the boys are building a game.  Wherever they go, they have fun together–creating, entertaining themselves (and whomever is around them), and enjoying whatever the moment brings. 

Last night I went to sleep to the delightful music of the guys talking and laughing.  We all go to bed around 9:30 when the boys are here, but we tell them they can read and/or play in their room until a time individually arbitrated by however early we plan to get up the next day.  I normally give them a good 45-60 minutes of extra relaxing playtime at night, so I can savor going to sleep to the heavenly sound of their voices.

Tomorrow we plan to go to our county fair, just a few minutes down the road.  We’ll start with breakfast at the fair, and do as much as we want–remembering to take refreshing breaks whenever needed.  Then we’ll top the day with pizza at our favorite lakeside restaurant.  Of course, we end every day with that old-fashioned summer necessity:  ice cream!

Is there anything more wonderful than soporific summer days?

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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More retreat center

Years ago when our children were babies, we had a squeaky board under our kitchen flooring–right in front of the range where I heated baby bottles.  As a bottle was heating, I would rock the baby in my arms while standing on the squeaky board. 

Invariably, the fussy little one would stop his or her hungry crying–seemingly mesmerized by the sound of the squeaky board.  The board was like a lullaby, and I appreciated the soothing “music” as much as the babies did–especially in the middle of the night.

The above-pictured porch glider squeaks, and reminds me of that long ago squeaky floor.  I rock on the glider, and recall all the porches and squeaky gliders that I’ve known.

Other soothing sounds in my past were the bang of a screen door, the thump of the rolling pin in action when my mom made her famous pie crust, and the cranking of old time outdoor pumps from which we drew water at my grandparents’ home–and at our summer cottage.  I’m rich in memories of old fashioned music.

Although our newly purchased home in Southern Wisconsin has a small enclosed patio where we could put our squeaky glider, we plan to leave it in place on the screen porch here–to enjoy when we come back for vacations.   

So what will we do for old fashioned music in our new home?  What can a condo possibly offer in the way of nostalgic sounds to slow us down and invoke memories of the past?

TRAINS!  Our new home in Nashotah, Wisconsin is 280 yards from a railroad track where many trains run during every 24 hours–and 3 or 4 of these trains run at night.  This might not be everyone’s dream come true, but it sure is ours. 

I blither just to think of the old fashioned music we’ll be enjoying in our new neighborhood.  And I warm to the anticipation of memories surfacing as trains whistle, clack, and rumble–practically right through the rooms where we will be living!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”  Psalm 24:1-2

Since we will be moving from country to a suburban neighborhood in just a few weeks, Dylan (our corgi) is in training for his new lifestyle.  For nearly a month, we’ve no longer been letting him out the back door to run on his own. 

Dylan has become a leash dog.  At least five times a day, Joe or I take him on a nice walk around our land and up and down the road.  Our walks vary from ten minutes in length to a half hour or more. 

Dylan is thriving on his walks, and it’s as if he doesn’t even recall running free.  He loves the extra attention, and I enjoy our time together as much as he does.

But the frequent hikes around our land are causing me a bit of heartache.  As I trek through the lush woods, looking deep into the forest along the deer trails and out over our bay, I question, “How can we bear to leave all this?”

Of course I know the answer to my question.  It’s been processed and re-processed, and decided weeks ago.  Proximity to family members and good medical facilities is of prime importance.  

And we are not moving into the proverbial asphalt jungle.  We are moving to a pleasant little town, to a quiet neighborhood.  So our outside environment will change drastically–from fourteen plus acres of woods and marsh, to a small patio with a tiny garden space–so what? 

Woods and water abound in Southern Wisconsin, where we will be living, as well as here around our northern home.  Within minutes from our new home, we can hike beautiful trails preserved for us by our state and county.  The main difference will be that we won’t have a title to the land where we walk.  I will not be able to say, “This is MINE!”

Then I remember that the land I’m hiking today with my dog is not really MINE–even though in legal, human terms we possess a title to it.  None of this earth is MINE, or YOURS.  The earth is the Lord’s! 

Our fourteen plus acres are not really OURS, any more than the Pacific ocean, Colorado mountains, or New Mexico sunsets are OURS!  All of these glories belong to the Lord who made them. 

Yet here is a great paradox:  as long as we live, the wonders of heaven and earth are OURS to enjoy.  God made His creation breathtakingly gorgeous, so that our souls need never be hungry for beauty.  There is beauty for all of our senses, enough beauty for all of us to share.

Ultimately, we’ll have no regrets about moving.  Anticipating the joy of being close to our family, I have no serious misgivings.  And whenever murmurs of doubt creep in, I remember “The earth is the Lord’s . . . .” 

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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