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Archive for the ‘Beauty of Summer Gone Raggy’ Category

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Gradually, almost imperceptibly the seasons turn.  Summer lingered, and thanks to plenty of moisture our woodland view remained green far longer than normal for a Southern Wisconsin Autumn.  For weeks I played make believe—drinking iced tea in the morning sun and making believe it was still, and always would be, Summer.   Then the mornings turned brisk, and I switched my sun and iced tea habit to the south side of our condo—rocking in a large pink rocker and absorbing every bit of warmth I could, to store against the inevitable onslaught of change.

Then the Autumn rains.  Now our courtyard is littered with sheddings from a large tree which is, as far as I can ascertain, an American Elm.  I love the leaf-littered grass, but realize that many condo owners do not.  Most folks around here do not hear my wild drummer, which forever beats to the soughing of wind and soothing of soggy leaves underfoot.  When the leaves dry, their crunching will delight my heart beyond anything words can express.

Soon the maintenance crew will vacuum the littered leaves.  I must be watchful, to preempt the crew and rake boundless amounts into my gardens for a protective buffer against winter.

Since our patio and patio garden open directly off the living room of our home, I fantasize that I’m still outdoors.  I open the patio door and inhale the pungent scent of Autumn rain, ripened and vastly different from the fragrance of April showers.  Still I pretend, pour myself an iced tea, close my eyes, and celebrate that stubborn essence of Summer which has always pervaded my innermost heart.

©Margaret L. Been, October 2014

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tall corn

↑ Taken a month or so ago, before the corn turned its beautiful tawny shade—this photo shows how bountiful Wisconsin has been in the summer of 2013!

Our littlest beauty!

↑ Our best summer bounty:  Adetokumba Bridget Josephine Adesokun, just 4 months old!

Our arbor

↑ I didn’t do any gardening after shoulder surgery, July 2nd.  But the garden “gardened” itself.  Our new arbor is a constant joy—a meeting place for sparrows, chickadees, goldfinches, and other feathered friends plus 2 chipmunks.  The hardy roses were here when we moved in 4 years ago.

The garden thrived 2013

↑ More patio garden.  The garlic chives, many perennials packed into the small space, and herbs/herbs/herbs thrived all summer (and many are still thriving) without a bit of help from a human gardener. 

Alicia and her beauties

↑ A family (among all of our children and grandchildren!) that knows how to live:  This one is Granddaughter Alicia with her husband, Dan, and their children left to right—Isaac, River, Cai, and Hannah.  Alicia home schools her young ones, and she puts  loads of creative ideas into motion.  She’s an amazing photographer—and I’m quite certain that Alicia tucked her camera into a tree (or plopped it on a stump) for an automatic “take” of this classic photo. 

And now for my fellow Knit-wits:  ↓

Another Prayer Shawl

↑ A triangular shawl—one of several which I’ve made in recent months.  The buttons are for decoration in this case.  They remind me of which is the “right side”, as the ends of the spliced yarns get tucked into the “wrong side”.  But I frequently make buttonholes for buttons which function, as well.  They keep a garment from sliding off one’s shoulders.

Rayon PC

↑ A rayon potato chip scarf—dressier than my past versions of this cutie, due to the elegant drape of the fine rayon yarn.  The button is a French import, a pewterish-looking rose—not just for decoration:  it works.

Lovely shell

↑ A very versatile shell of not-too-heavy and not-too-warm yarns.  A happy sleeveless concoction in warm weather, over just a cool cami— but it will double as a vest over a blouse in winter.

Shawl-ette Front

 ↑ A shawlette.  I love it!  It’s just the thing for a bit of extra shoulder warmth.  This is the front view.  The back is pictured below. ↓

Shawl-ette Back

This one was completed last evening, and now a similar version has hit the circular needle—in shades of coral and rose.  I’m incorporating “bubbles” by switching from a small to a large needle periodically, increasing stitches periodically for a few rows, and then decreasing—in a sequence of repeats.  Voilà, bubbles!  The border trim is crocheted.  It’s fun to include random pattern stitches, lace patterns, etc., while following the inspiration of the moment! 

Margaret L. Been, 2013

 

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Now we’ve had a light frost in our county so these warm, euphoric October days constitute the beginning of Indian summer—and what is more lovely?  Springtime and summer are as lovely, but what is so poignantly beautiful as Indian summer?  Mums in an array of analogous shades offer color dominance—while lemon thyme, lavender, mint, sage, garlic chives, sweet basil, and last year’s tomato plants fool us into thinking we still live in a green world.

Indian summer is a time to pause and luxuriate in the sun, but it’s also a time to say our last farewell to summer.  Today I gathered my “garden art”, to be stored in the garage until spring.  I have four garden areas.  This project took over an hour as so many funky treasures either tower over or hover beneath our perennials and bushes.  The items had to be hosed off and transported to the sanctuary of our garage.

Farewell to summer!  Farewell to those derelict chairs (1 cardinal red, 1 hippie era orange, 1 saffron) which sat in various gardens for months—holding bounty such as a blue granite pail, a broken English porcelain teapot, and a tarnished silverplated pitcher.  Farewell to the vintage croquet set.  Farewell to the clay warty toad with a baby toadie on its back—so ugly, it’s cute!  Farewell to other stone and ceramic critters:  the chipmunk, froggie, hedgehog, and rabbit. 

Farewell to the fairy house and the diminutive horses that fairies might ride when no one is looking.  Farewell to those wavy, stick-in the-ground thingies on (now delightfully rusted) metal poles:  ducks, road-runners, gnomes, sparkly plastic balls, weird insects, and whiligigs.  Farewell to the cobalt blue bottles which I insert on bare branches and poles into gardens every spring.  Farewell to the brown bottle, and the green bottle as well. 

Farewell to the fake flowers which filled spaces where real flowers forgot to bloom.  Farewell to the copper coffee pot, the stainless steel perc, and the enameled dippers and pitchers.  Some of these will take refuge in our home over the months ahead. 

Even as I bask in the euphoric Indian summer sun, winter whispers icy insinuations to the periphery of my mind.  Winter will come.  Winter always comes to Wisconsin.  Winter with its pristine beauty and recreational delights.  Winter, with its time of testing.  Winter, the proving ground for true grit. 

Farewell to summer and the funky garden accoutrements.  Spring will return, and another summer will follow.  God willing, I’ll be here in 2012—to put summer back together, garden art and all! 

Meanwhle as I surveyed my gardens, now devoid of manmade “art” yet still abounding in live growth, I saw an exquisite piece of real art:  a delicately patterned monarch resting on a flowering hydrangea. 

The garden stuff is fun, and I’ll probably always enjoy “planting” it.  But God’s art is best of all, and it’s with us in one form or another—no matter what season we are experiencing!  🙂

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I named the above rendering “Autumn Creeps In”.  There is a subtly to September, even considering that this year the air is prematurely snappy.  We’ll will undoubtedly have some warmish, golden Indian summer days in October.  Yet autumn is creeping in at a consistent pace. 

Beauty!  Color!  Invigorating Days!  Bittersweet Reflections!  All of these characterize the season at hand.  Recently I’ve been wrapped in bittersweet reflections—recalling the riches of the short summer from which we are emerging.  June remained chilly, and I kept a handspun, hand knitted hat in the car until early July.  Then summer began in earnest.  How languid, how lovely—except for about 5 unbearably hot, sticky days when we had to turn on air conditioning which we absolutely hate to do!

Summer guests, summer afternoons on the patio, summer evenings with frog serenades ringing from the gardens beneath our windows, summer rains (not enough of them, however), summer ice cream outings, summer, summer, summer!  We grab hold of summer in our souls, stash it in our cupboard of poignant memories, and dream of it in January when it’s 10 below zero in Wisconsin (or 30 below zero up north where we lived for 8 years).  Summer!

This week I’ve been thinking seriously about autumn creeping in, and I’ve responded accordingly.  House plants have been moved from our patio to a spare table in Joe’s den.  Most of our house plants never went out for the summer, as we have doors and windows open nearly around the clock and it’s like a garden indoors.  African violets stay inside all year, relishing their eastern exposure and the shelter of our living room.  Most of my jades, Christmas cacti, orchid cacti, and aloe plants stay indoors in our southern windows.  But a few jades and cacti have been hanging out on the patio for the last 2 months, adding to the decor.  Now all have been garnered in.  Soon the Christmas cacti will be stashed away in a dark closet, resting and preparing to bloom.

Today I dismantled our sweet little patio fountain, as those inevitable early frosts are advancing from the north.  Any night now, icy fingers could move in—snipping here, blanching there, and freezing the water in fountains.  Our fountain (with a hidden electric pump) consists of 3 levels of pretend rocks (actually fiberglass, but very realistic and rocklike) over which the water tumbles—plus a small girl and a family of ducks.  Carefully I dismantled the 3 sections, wiped the pieces dry, and transported them to our garage on the seat of my 4 wheel walker.

Now the little girl and her ducks have been re-assembled (but not in the operating mode) in a far corner of the garage, where I keep treasures:  seasonal wreaths, decorative odds and ends, junk from rummage sales, etc.  It’s fun to wander and browse among stuff in our garage.  And even during winter’s bleakest period there are sunny days when Joe and I can bundle and sit inside our garage on comfy chairs, while pretending we’re staring into a New Mexico sky.

We have a large fountain in our community pond.  Soon it will be shut off for the season.  I’ll mourn the loss of moving water, while knowing the fountain will resume it’s refreshing showers next April.  I’m thankful for the small indoor fountain which graces our living room table of African violets.  The sound of water tumbling from this diminutive ceramic “friend” will cheer many winter days.

Along with bittersweet reflections, comes the anticipation of additional hours for indoor pleasures—including extra time to knit, and spin gorgeous wool on my spinning wheels.  During the colder months, I keep a spinning wheel in front of our surrogate (electric) fireplace.  What a cozy place to sit and spin. 

Stacked in my corner studio are many paintings and collages in progress.  And for every piece waiting to be completed, more paintings and collages are lined up in my head—just waiting to be born on paper or gallery wrapped canvas.  Even when the autumn color fades, indoor color will prevail!

A new piano book of easy-version Scott Joplin rag tunes has arrived in the mail, and I’m getting a handle on “The Entertainer”.  “Maple Leaf Rag” is a bit more challenging with 4 flats, but (God willing) I’ll learn to play that as well in the coming weeks.  There are 18 rags in the book—enjoyment forever.  I have music for each day and every mood.  I love Mozart Beethoven, and Chopin.  And I also love ragtime, especially Joplin’s works!

Soapmaking is ongoing in my kitchen, as I supply many family members and friends with my beautiful facial (and body) soap.  The thrill of a creating a new batch of soap never grows old.  Our home is redolent with rose, wisteria, sandalwood, patchouli, and (for occasional novelty) soaps scented with of coffee and chocolate fragrance oils. 

(When we moved to a condo 2 years ago, a friend was shocked to hear that I was still making soap.  “You make soap in a condo?” my friend asked.  I answered something to the effect that I will always want to go on living, no matter where!  Maybe this friend thought that I should just zone out and twiddle my thumbs, since I was advancing in age and now living in a condo!)

And then there are books, books, books, books, and more books!  Within a few minutes of our door are 2 libraries, in different directions.  Although we don’t fancy many of the newer books due to their inferior writing quality and mediocre content, we love the used book sales which are frequent at the libraries.  These sales never let us down.  As we come home with bags of “new to us” used books, we add to the leaning towers of books against the walls of our home.  A KINDLE® or NOOK® would never be welcome at this treasure trove of tattered covers, coffee stained pages, and people who are passionate about real books!

So you see, as autumn creeps in my bittersweet reflections give way to downright enthusiasm.  Spring and summer will return.  In the meantime, what a wealth of joyEach day is an adventure to be embraced and celebrated—regardless of the season!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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One of the many advantages of living outside of cities is the ever-present panorama of sky.  At our northern home, we had sky over water.  Now, in Southern Wisconsin, we view the sky over a park and nature preserve.

This has been an odd summer around here, in that the really warm (sometimes HOT!) weather did not set in until July.  Everything is different from last summer.  Perennials which were mushrooming and spreading in May, 2010 never even made themselves known this summer until mid June.  

Consequently, the obvious harbingers of autumn are late in appearing.  Our neighorhood wild prairie has yet to flash in the sun with goldenrod; coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and Queen Anne’s lace still flourish there.  The sumac along the park path barely hints at the glory it will soon display, whereas in most years the turning sumac leaves provide an early sign of change.

The cardinals still “cheer-cheer”, cheering my heart in the process.  Mourning doves still mourn their poignant “oooo-oooo-oooooo”, reminding me of catapulting years of mourning doves—since I was a small child, first thrilling to their threnody.  Every evening at dusk, a flock of sparrows roosts in the tree outside our bedroom window.  They chirp and rustle in the leaves and branches until dark.  Then all is still, until the first ray of dawn when the birds resume their chirping, and take off for another day of foraging. 

Flocking birds are a sign of seasonal change.  I treasure the busy little creatures who hang out in the tree beside our window, because at this point I do not want summer to end.  But end, it will! 

Meanwhile, the clouds clearly forecaste change—those famous clouds of August.  Due to changing air currents, temperatures, and moisture, August clouds are distinctive.  After a suddenly cooler night, the clouds are seen as mist rising off the ground in our park.  Up north the clouds rose off our lake in August and September, reminding us of the picturesque lochs we saw years ago when we traveled the back roads of the Scottish highlands.

Clouds of change!  We who live with four seasons (one of which seems a lot longer than the other three in Wisconsin!) are accustomed to change and ready for it.  Already I’ve done some shifting around of clothes in my closet, so that when the first brisk day arrives I’ll have something warmer at hand.   I’ve laundered the summer blankets and taken a wool blanket out of its cleaner bag. 

I’m preparing my heart for that blast of sheer beauty which Autumn brings—followed by the silent, white months.  But we can never be totally prepared for the metaphorical clouds of change in our personal lives.  Last year, as August whispered sweet promises around us, little did we know that we were about to enter a ten-month period of severe medical issues—with one emergency compounding another. 

We can never accurately predict our seasons of circumstances.  All we can do is remember that emergencies are Holy Ground.  God gets our attention and speaks to us through times of crisis.  All we can do is take off our metaphorical shoes and say “Yes, Lord, whatever You will shall be done.”

Actually, for the Christian all of life is Holy Ground.  To recognize that fact is to experience the peace of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit every day, regardless of whatever the clouds of change may bring!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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. . . waking in the morning to the sound of much-needed rain,

sharing a breakfast at our local “good old boy” restaurant,

stopping at the library and leaving with 2 heavy sacks of books,

celebrating the progression of summertime in our gardens,

sitting in “our row” in church with 10 great grandchildren—ages 6 and under,

gently stepping back in time at the antique barn up the road,

eating ice cream on the patio, 

sleeping, waking, breathing in and out!

Sweet savor offerings of praise are going up each day!  For five weeks Joe and I have been at home.  This is a record.  Since September, 2010 when I had spinal fusion surgery right up until mid-June, 2011 when Joe had a heart emergency we have not been out of a hospital for more than a month.  The one-month break happened only once.  For the rest of that period we averaged a hospital stay every two to three weeks—with each stay lasting from 2 to 10 days.

I’m not clueless enough to believe this blessed hiatus will last forever.  We live one day at a time, and when a crisis comes we find peace and joy in the midst of whatever God allows in our lives.  But at this moment we are enjoying peace and joy at home, doing “normal” things!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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(Karen’s Garden in Waukesha Wisconsin — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑ 

Poems, by Margaret L. Been 

(Karen’s Rose Arbor — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom)

Feel the ecstacy of cloud, and rose’s beauty pain! 

Inhale the damp of ginger cool, the poignancy of rain.    

_______________________________________________________________________________

  

(Our Northern Retreat — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

June unravels lush across the land . . .

beauty stakes a summer tent and Love

has seized my hand.

_________________________________________________________________________________

(Margaret’s Condo Garden in Nashotah, Wisconsin — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Last Eon

Last eon old ladies kept gardens—

indolent sweet

lilies of the valley,

Virginia bluebells

ringing up June-wafting peonies,

wicker chaired haunts

for pausing with timeless cups

of tea, mint scented

lemonade and cookie gardens

enticing well-patched fry

from lace-curtained homes kept

by mothers.

Last eon old ladies kept gardens.

____________________________________________________________________________________

(Walden North — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Another Walden

(In honor of Henry David Thoreau, who wrote “I had three chairs in my house:  one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.”)

Eaves sagging,

spidered shingles veiling

squirrel-hewn beams.

A one-hinged door

sashays and scrapes

the spintered floor

where field mice scamper

with their seedy stores.

Three chairs are here

for you and me

and company,

and battered cups

for toasting joy

of mislaid schemes

among the shards

of dusty dreams.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

(Our Big Elk River — digitally enhanced photo by Margaret L. Been)  ↑

The Glory that is August . . .

. . . rejoicing in gleaming paint pots

of paisleys, morning glories tripping ankles,

riotous color circles cascading brilliant orange

from coppery berry-stained arms, ruby dollops

dripping from dangling gold, cheekbones

blushing mauve, stormy drapes valancing

languid summer eyes.

Behold her richly tangled gardens

nurtured randomly with whimsical

neglect, where cicadas thrum

and chipmunks scurry—where dynasties

of rabbits glean chamomile and mint

from shards of clay, and crackled

china plates line hidden treasure paths

unearthed by robins, hidden again

in masses of sage secluding

sweet woodruff’s piney green.

Behold her star-embroidered nights

teeming with song of wind and owl

and coyotes calling out the moon,

praising the Author of August beauty—

recalling yesterday, remembering

our long forgotten dreams.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

(Up-North Trail — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

While Summer Stays

I have set a bread to rise

and gone with morning in my eyes

to find a place, while summer stays

where goldenrod lights meadow ways . . .

where birchwood’s warm obscurity

retreats from time, and beckons me

to abdicate a few last days

so haunting sweet while summer stays.

I have set a bread to rise

and gone with morning in my eyes.

______________________________________________________________________________________

(Karen and Lee’s Home in Waukesha, Wisconsin — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑ 

(Karen’s Quiet Garden — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑

I Will Sweep My Rooms

I will sweep my rooms, and tend

my cloistered gardens, brew my tea,

and one who mocked my dreams

will never know the heart of me!

_______________________________________________________________________________________

(Joelly and Nathaniel Mining Wild Raspberries — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Gardens are lovely

when they look as though nature made them . . .

lovelier, when nature did!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

(The selected poems are reprinted from 3 collections of poetry by Margaret Longenecker Been:  WILDERNESS AND GARDENS—an American Lady’s Prospect, published in 1974 by John Westburg Associates, Fennimore, Wisconsin; MORNING IN MY EYES, published in 1997 by Sheepy Hollow Press, Eagle, Wisconsin; and A TIME UNDER HEAVEN, published in 2005 by Elk River Books, Phillips, Wisconsin.) 

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