Monday, September 24, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

     You know it is fall when the pumpkins in your garden begin to ripen. The thing of it is—I didn’t plant any. Still, there they are growing on the slope that used to lie beneath the shade of a spruce: ten, perfect mini pumpkins. Until the devastating storm two months ago, there wasn’t a spot sunny enough to grow them. We almost didn’t notice them amidst the bumper crop of weeds. We’ve been distracted with roofing and siding and haven’t had the inclination to garden in this summer’s drought and heat. Now that the heat and humidity are beginning to wane, however, I am out in the yard on my hands and knees most days patiently making room for next spring—she’ll need a landing strip.

     Now and then, I’ve been tempted to grumble as the Aftermath continues to eat up our days, but those pumpkins make me smile; they remind me that I am not the one in control; they remind me of the unexpected blessing and bounty I have received this summer. There are also some wild violets growing on the slope and a single stalk of corn growing beside the driveway. I didn’t plant those either. Each of these surprises brings me joy and lifts my heart like a promise.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Summer Set

It was a yellow summer
With dreams the size of shade.

The Sower by Vincent van Gogh

Monday, September 17, 2012

Soda Pop

     Soda pop is a daily fixture in American life, but when I was a child it was a treat. I was raised in a middle-class home, but with six children and a modest, single income, my parents weren’t able to provide a lot of extras. We always had shoes on our feet, food on the table and presents under the Christmas tree, but a trip to McDonalds was rare. So was ice cream. I was envious of the huge round tubs of Neapolitan my cousins always seemed to have in their freezer. My father made a batch of his own root beer one year and bottled it in brown, recycled glass bottles. We had floats all summer long. Every sip of root beer I’ve had since, tastes like that summer.

     One year we took a road trip to visit my great aunt and uncle in Idaho. On the way, we spent a night in a motel. Mom and Dad slept in the double bed while the rest of us slept on the floor. It was an adventure. I'd never slept in a motel before. Next to the manager's office there was a vending machine with cold bottles of soda pop, and my dad let each of us buy one. Of all the memories I have from that trip, having a bottle of pop all to myself remains the most prominent.

     All these years later, plastic liters and aluminum cans of fizzy drink seem commonplace. I don't often drink the stuff, but occasionally I buy a soda in a glass bottle with a metal crown cap. I drink it cold, straight from the bottle, and it still feels like a luxury.

Soda Pop Song

Soda pop, soda pop
So so so soda pop
Soda pop, soda pop
So so so soda pop

I like my Ginger Ale
Root beer and Bubble Up
Pepsi really pours it on
Dr Pepper picks me up

Fresh up with 7 Up
Soda Squirt, Crush a pop
It hasta be Shasta
Red Bull will make you hop

Things go better with a
Can of fizzy soda
I’d like to buy the world
A Coke Coca-Cola

Soda pop, soda pop
So so so soda pop
Soda pop, soda pop
Sing sing a soda pop…

~ Nib of Nib's End ~

Silly Nib likes to sing this to the tune of the 1950's song Lollipop Lollipop or just rap it out like a pop star.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Head in the Clouds

     One of the perks of my husband's job is the frequent flyer miles he accumulates. He used some of them to get me an iPad for our anniversary this year. Dear man, he’s given me a boost into the twenty-first century. I don’t twitter, tweet, text, tumble or pin; I don’t even have my face in a book, but I now have my head in the Cloud. And I am not alone. Apparently, there are a lot of people in the Cloud with me. You might even be one of them. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

     Being technologically challenged, I don’t pretend to understand the workings of this Cloud, but I don’t have to know how it works to enjoy its benefits. Still, I am a little nervous about using it. Can it get so full it starts to leak like raindrops from a nimbus? Or does it keep expanding like the ominous phenomenon generated by the FLDSMDFR in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs? If so, is that a good thing? Is this storage depot as vaporous as a cloud and as easily penetrated? I don’t suppose my intellectual property is worth much, but it is mine, and I don't like anyone going through my purse without asking either. Perhaps all of these questions are silly and simply a reflection of my woeful ignorance. Perhaps I should relax and join the throng:

Three cheers!
I Cloud
You Cloud
We all crowd the iCloud!

     Yes, I am speaking tongue in cheek. I think technology is wonderful and I would rather do with it than without it, but I also think, and believe many would agree with me, that too much of a good thing can turn a blessing into a curse. After all, the tendency to overindulge is part of human nature. If you have any doubt, just ask the folks of Swallow Falls.

     I already spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds so, in some ways, this isn’t anything new. Daydreaming comes easy when I'm a passenger in the car and the scenery is mostly billboards, or when I forget to bring a book to read while waiting for the dentist. I like where floating in the stratosphere takes me, the flights of fancy into other realms, the high-hearted pondering of the spirit as it wings its way heavenward like the ascendant lark. At the same time, I understand the need for coming "back to the furrows dip". Sometimes I need to pull my head out of the clouds and pay attention, listen to the voices next to me, or just be present. It's lonely sitting next to someone who is a million miles away. 

     Most of life happens in the furrows dip. That's where the crops grow. But they are watered from above. All we need to make this trying-to-move-with-the-times grandmother happy is a little perspective from both angles.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Its a Jungle Out There

     My husband was outside in the dark watering the lawn one evening while I was in the house reading. He hadn’t been out there long before he came in and said he would finish watering in the morning. Coyotes were nearby yipping and howling to one another, and he didn’t want to surprise one in the darkness. Probably a good decision. Over the years we have had encounters with deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, ground hogs, wild turkeys, possums, skunks, raccoons, feral cats and even a rabid cat. We have our share of wildlife even though we do not live in the wild.

     Several years ago, my globe-trekking spouse went to visit friends living in a remote Indian village in the Amazon jungle. He flew in by bush plane and landed on a grass airstrip. Immersing himself in the surroundings, he bathed in the river with the piranha and stingrays, and ate tapir and crocodile for dinner with our friends. It was difficult, at first, to fall asleep at night because he was unaccustomed to the relentless jungle noise.

     One evening, after visiting with our friends in their bungalow, as he made his way through the darkness to his own quarters, he heard a noise that sounded like a baby crying. The crying continued at intervals until he drew near the small house he was staying in. Then it turned into a hair-raising roar. Needless to say, he retreated. Quickly.

     A cougar had been foraging from the village chickens for weeks and, after my husband returned home, we heard that one of the Indians had shot and killed it. If you are a native in the Amazon jungle, killing predators is allowed, you don’t need permission to do it—it’s a matter of survival. Here in the suburban jungle, however, we just keep our distance.

photograph by Tim Knight