They Grew and They Flew


Tonight is my last night in Wilmington.  We have a nice dinner out planned and maybe a breakfast in the morning.  I have said good bye to the ancient oak and to the splashing fountain that sings to me while I write.  They have become familiar and I will miss them, but leaving my boys,  that grew and flew-now that’s another story.

The truth is they are but a few hours away and we will visit more this summer.  Some more truth is I got used to being with them again on a daily basis and it felt wonderful.  I love having a good meal ready when they get home.  I love when we sleep under the same roof.  I love waiting for them to get home, even!  

I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit.  I am not in the habit of  going out much-but I have done so this week.  I can not convince my children that I am “pleased as punch” just staying at home.  I wear comfortable clothing and watch old black and white movies.  I love reading and writing.  I have taken a lot of walks about the village.  I have met some nice folks and some friendly dogs.  I am older now, and I am quite content with such things.

You would think, that by this age, a person would know something-but as it turns out, a lot of what I have learned has changed up.  The tools are different.  From washing machines to coffee makers- I need a manual to know what all those flashing lights are about. Car keys are odd looking and using a phone can be a nightmare.  The televisions have three remotes and that’s a nightmare too.  My generation grew up without microwaves, without cable and cell phones-so a lot has changed. It is no wonder, I am content at home peeling potatoes-the same way my grandmama did, because I know how. It is often said that the older generation is “set in their ways” and that they don’t like change.  The truth is, we are the experts at change.  We have done it all of our lives- and honestly, it is tiring.  I miss those days when the kids were little and I really did know how to make coffee.  Well, I just miss those days in general.

I have missed the rabbit patch too with its’ country air and song birds flying.  I am sure that my younger boys missed me like I missed them.  Cash and Christopher Robin have probably been pining away-and I bet Christopher Robin broke something while I was gone. The tomatoes will be ripe and the grass will need mowing.  The rabbit patch is very “set in it’s ways”  and demands a fair amount of attention on any given day.  I will take a walk  around when I get back to see what is blooming.  I will go the “Quiet Garden”and I will be glad for  my time by the sea, with my  children who “grew and flew” in a most delightful way.  . . and the world is a better place because of it.



While by the “Shining Big Sea Water”


Longfellow’s account of an ocean, is my favorite.  It sounds like music when read . I never see the ocean that I don’t  think of “The Song  of Hiawatha”.  We were there on Wednesday, by that ” shining big sea water” and I remembered again that Longfellow was right.

Wrightsville Beach is about ten minutes from Brant’s house.  The sand is white and feels like powder, there.  The water is especially clear and  on that day, a cool wind blew acrossed it.   I watched Lyla play where the waves rolled up  and became gentle, for a long while . Later I took a long walk.  A little girl was collecting purple shells and I gathered a good many for her as I strolled along .  

I loved hearing the sounds of children laughing and playing in that big sea water.  I saw older couples walking hand in hand and young men on surf boards riding the waves in with the confidence that youth affords. It was beautiful.  People are friendly at the beach and though it isn’t organized, we all watch out for the children-and help them find shells.

It is a humbling experience to walk by an ocean.  I felt small, but not insignificant.  An ocean is a mighty force, but I did not feel weak.  Instead, I felt a great sense of comfort knowing that the Spirit that makes the moon rise over the ocean, also makes it rise over the rabbit patch-and over Africa and every place in-between.  The crashing waves, splashing fountains and the still, hidden  ponds in the woodlands are born by the same Hand and somehow, fear can not abide  in me when I consider that -so the stroll does me good.  

I returned to our “camp” with my pocket full of purple shells, to find Lyla in deep concentration, staring intensely  at the shining big sea water.  She was  still and silent-quite a contrast  to the liveliness around her. I have noticed this is a habit of very young children.  They will stop in their tracks when they see a thing of beauty.  Their heart recognizes authenticity -whether it be an army of ants , a feather or a pretty rock-things than man can not take credit for and I vow to never rush Lyla when she discovers such treasures. 

The little girl with the bucket of purple shells was happy with my own collection.  She pointed out how many different “kinds” of purple there were-and she was right.  

When we left, the sand was so hot you couldn’t bear to move at a normal pace, even with shoes on.  Still, I noticed the “Joe-bell” flowers blooming in spite of the harsh sun and there were some lavender flowers doing the same.  We came home and finally finished the left-overs.  Will, my son -in-law and heart, left as his vacation was now over.  Brant went to work and Jenny had plans for dinner with friends.  Lyla and I took a walk as the wind was unusually cool for July.   Usually, Lyla rides in a stroller, but I thought she might enjoy walking as we had the time.  She found every leaf and twig along the way.  She examined them and then held them up for me to see too.  We watched a pair of doves for a while and I showed her the moon.

I am realising more and more, that the universe does not “hide” it’s secrets of happiness.  There is no great hunt rewarding only a favored sect of the human race. One does not have to  be a warrior  nor the swiftest  to win the prize.  The treasure is not buried in a remote corner of the earth  with a secret map,but is strewn about, in rocks and hills, in trees and sky and on the shore by the shining big sea water- and it may sometimes look like little shells in various shades of purple.


On Any Other Tuesday


The sun came up  this morning with all its’ shine and crept in to the windows of a quiet house.  The fanfare of the last four days is over and I already miss it.  Today is just any other Tuesday.

For some odd reason, Tuesday is one of my favorite days.  I nor any of my children were born on a Tuesday, and very rarely does any holiday fall on a Tuesday.  There is no rhyme or reason for my affection for this ordinary day- but this particular Tuesday is the day after a sweet time with my oldest children and that day always requires a recovery period.

It was a grand time.  We shared wonderful meals and enjoyed the time spent in a leisure fashion.  Lyla was the center of attention throughout the holiday.  I get so much happiness just watching the way they all carry on. When Tres left last night to return to Charleston, the road  downhill began for me.  We are staying with Brant-and he had to go back to work today.  Jenny and her family are spending time with Will’s family in a neighboring town today-so this Tuesday seems especially quiet.  The refrigerator is full of left-overs, just like my heart.

When you have five children, you spend a lot of your life raising them up-to become independent  of course.  When it happens, it comes as a shock!  Sometimes, you may feel great liberty and sometimes you may feel stranded. It is quite complicated and nothing short of mysterious.

I often think of the women  before me that sent their children in to unknown territories with the hope of a few letters here and there that told of their circumstances.  Their Grand children were born and not seen for years.  When I do, I am apt to stop whining.

Growing up on a farm, family stayed closed by.  Young couples were given a tract of land, or bought adjoining land.  I had great-aunts and uncles besides the grandparents and first, second , third and fourth cousins, though we didn’t count the difference, close by. This was most inconvenient at times.  Very rarely did a child get by with anything remotely naughty.  I understand the concept that “it takes a village to raise a child”.  Eventually,  small farms got replaced by huge farms.  Young would be farmers started working in factories-often shift work.  Life changed and by the time I was a teenager, the farm was a memory and factories too, mostly.   Still, I got used to family being next door or right down the road-and me being sentimental, well, as I said, I got used to it.

I am sitting by the splashing fountain thinking great thoughts and watching redbirds fly carelessly by.  The water along the shady banks is dark til the fountain draws it in . The fountain makes the water look like silver pearls when they cascade back down to their source. Then they become little glass bubbles gliding back out to the shady banks. The water keeps changing from one beautiful way into another.  A mother has to do the same thing, I remember on this Tuesday.  Life may look different. Farms get sold and children grow up- but love looks the same.. . today and on any other Tuesday.





Midsummer Dreams


July is here with it’s fireworks and picnics. People take to the beaches in groves in July.  The yard needs mowing weekly and sweet corn is in abundance. Geraniums are blooming on porches. Hopes and wishes in July are  “midsummer dreams”  and may have a good chance of coming true.

I am in Wilmington now sitting by the splashing fountain and breathing in more salty air.  We are going to have “Sunday dinner” on Sunday this week.  Of course, I am planning the fourth of July menu as well.  Ours’ will be a simple fare with a fancy cake. It has been a while since a holiday occurred giving everyone an excuse not to work-and a while before it happens again.

When I was growing up, the fourth of July often meant the first day of harvesting-and shucking corn.  Corn does not allow you much time to work with it.  It quickly loses its’ softness after being pulled- and do not think I am talking about enough corn for a meal or two.  I have shucked a small pick up load of corn  in a day, with help.  It takes a crew of folks to put up corn. I can remember  as a child, the men shucking the corn and cutting the ends off with a hatchet outside in the shade.  The women would be in the kitchen taking the corn off the cob with sharp knives.  Some would be blanching the kernels, and then some would pack it in freezer bags and  start filling up the “deep freeze” with bags of gold to feed the family in the winter.  It was a big mess to say the least and a noisy event.  I wonder how many problems got solved in the kitchen that day, amongst the women- and how many deals were made in the shade of the oaks while the men  shucked corn. 

Fruits and vegetables, home-grown and harvested just after picking them, have an entirely different flavor than the ones found in a freezer section at a grocery store.  Maybe, it is the touch of the human hand in the process.  Maybe it is the laughter or the shade of old oaks .  Whatever it is, it shows up on the table-and  the memory of those long ago Julys  remain alive and well, with me.

School has been out a few weeks now, and the feeling of  that has finally settled in.  I do not think there is a clock that is working on the rabbit patch.  Their batteries need replacing and I refuse to do so in July.  We will eat Sunday dinner when it’s ready and go to bed, when we are tired. I will do all things as I do with my writing-“when the spirit moves me”.

July is a time to listen to mockingbirds showing off-and they always do.  I heard one a few summers back, that could even sing like a purple martin, which is no small feat.  The purple martins are a long time favorite of mine.  My daddy  has faithfully had “martin boxes” for as long as I remember.  The descendants return to the house they were hatched in, to raise their own and they bring their song with them, learned in South America, where they winter.  It is a distinctly tropical sound and a mockingbird shows quite a bit of skill to copy it.

The crepe myrtles are in full bloom in July.  I like their colorful spikes  that are shades of pink, lavender and white. I was not too fond of them as a child. Their trunks are “slick as glass”,  making them about impossible to climb.  They are small trees that grow upright, so to a small child they appear quite useless. Now, I find them lovely, especially when a mockingbird is perched there and bragging on a midsummer evening.

July is a noisy, busy month with fireworks and evening thunderstorms.  It starts with a holiday that brings us together.  I was thinking recently, that this holiday is quite remarkable in that it belongs to all of us that call this nation home  and also the whole planet in some way.  We are a country formed, by residents of many countries and cultures.  People who came together and shared the soil.  People who were able to unite regardless of external factors.  I am grateful for the many cultures that have contributed from “sea to shining sea” .  They came bearing gifts.  My hope is that we will all remember how we came about and that every nation on the planet had something to do with it. My own midsummer dream is that we will all be grateful for the people that built our home and to remember- there were many.