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Monday, March 19, 2007

gardensong - reprise in a minor key

I stand in the garden, nibbling one of the freshly picked snow peas. Watching the last of the evening sun as it slants over the roof of the house and gilds the walnut tree in the back yard. A petunia-scented breeze ruffles my hair. What a relief after the day's heat. I curl my toes in the sandy soil, dry and crisp on the surface but still damp from the morning’s rain underneath. A quarter mile away, the neighbor’s dog is barking. The wind sighs through the pines. Behind me, I hear the faint rustle of my mother picking the beans. In my memory, I see the beloved forms of Grandma and Great-grandma, as they were then, stooping over the same garden’s rows. I consider the very real possibility that someday my grandchildren will stand where I do now, drinking in another August evening. A rush of thankfulness and contentment squeezes at my throat.

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Above is the post that started this blog on August 8, 2005, more than a year and a half ago. I'm very thankful I considered the moment valuable enough to chronicle. So much has changed since then! Now, the garden lies fallow—not just because of winter. There may be no garden this year, for the first time in decades. Mom is still recovering in the hospital from a car wreck that took my dad. I don't know if she'll have the strength (or the heart) to plant this year without him.

But the garden must go on. It has to continue for the sake of my other life-shifting change. The vague shadow I imagined when I daydreamed that "someday my grandchildren will stand where I do now" has become a reality. A little girl named Audrey graces our lives. Her mommy and daddy already are planning to teach her to love gardens and their treasures.

Soon, I'll be back at the homestead. I'll stand and stare at the sleeping garden. In my memory, I'll see the beloved forms of Grandma, Great-grandma, and Dad, stooping over the rows. By their side, I'll imagine a blue-eyed little girl, her tiny hands busily searching for the ripening crop. Seasoned with the salty tang of tears, another rush of thankfulness will squeeze my throat. The heritage of the garden will live.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Blast From the Past

Last night, I suddenly remembered this classic poem that my dad used to read to me when I was a kid. The memory brought a flood of tears. Dad wasn't real demonstrative when I was growing up, (He got better!) but there was never any doubt what he was saying when he read this to me.

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The Children's Hour
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,

Comes a pause in the day's occupations,

That is known as the Children's Hour.



I hear in the chamber above me

The patter of little feet,

The sound of a door that is opened,

And voices soft and sweet.


From my study I see in the lamplight,

Descending the broad hall stair,

Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,

And Edith with golden hair.


A whisper, and then a silence:

Yet I know by their merry eyes

They are plotting and planning together

To take me by surprise.


A sudden rush from the stairway,

A sudden raid from the hall!

By three doors left unguarded

They enter my castle wall!


They climb up into my turret

O'er the arms and back of my chair;

If I try to escape, they surround me;

They seem to be everywhere.


They almost devour me with kisses,

Their arms about me entwine,

Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen

In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!


Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,

Because you have scaled the wall,

Such an old mustache as I am

Is not a match for you all!


I have you fast in my fortress,

And will not let you depart,

But put you down into the dungeon

In the round-tower of my heart.


And there will I keep you forever,

Yes, forever and a day,

Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,

And moulder in dust away!

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I love you too, Daddy!