When the Children Came Home

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My last entry was about the beauty of “ordinary” – simplistic greatness, to me.  This time, the weekend holds some fanfare-at least for me.  All of the children are coming home!  We are gathering at the home of my parents and so Ryan will meet his great grandparents, at long last.  I could hardly sleep last night, in light of the occasion.

I came in the back door, of the old farmhouse, on Friday with a spring in my step, though I was lugging groceries.  We are gathering on Saturday, this time, for a mid day meal.  This meant, I best get started cooking on Friday night.  Within minutes, I had the biggest pot I own, on the stove, filled to the brim with chicken, celery stalks and all sorts of seasonings.  Tomorrow, I would make the dumplings.  Another pot was full of string beans.  I would fry the cornbread at Mama and Daddys’ for cornbread has a short span, to sit and still be good.  For dessert, I was making strawberry brownies, for though, it may seem out of season, this family loves anything with strawberries.  Delores is making apple pie cookies, so very fitting for early autumn.

I will tell you, that I nearly danced, in the kitchen, while the pots simmered.


Mornings are so cool now, that I drug out my winter robe, on Saturday . . .and I put the fan away.  I have not been able to use it, for most of the week.  It seems, that summer is at long last, over.  Now, even the trees declare it.  The sycamores are starting to drop their huge leaves.  Sycamore leaves go from green to brown, without a bit of fanfare.  The dogwoods are starting to turn their familiar crimson-just barely, but enough that their bright red berries are seen easily.  The grass has slowed down, thankfully, too.  

The sun was shining as brightly, as it has ever dared to do, on Saturday.  This only increased my good spirits.  

Just before noon, Kyle and I were pulling in the driveway at Mama and Daddys’.  Of course, Christian had to work, which put a damper on things.  The car was loaded down with steaming pots and a large pan of  the strawberry brownies.    I was frying cornbread within minutes.    

One by one, all arrived.  We made quite a ceremony of Mama and Daddy, meeting little Ryan.  It was a tender moment. . .and the beauty of it, was not lost for any of us.

A noisy, happy meal followed that hallowed moment.  Delores, especially loves babies, and she opted to hold Ryan,  She did so til there was not a dumpling left in the pot!  Being the cook, I was horror stricken, but Delores ate cornbread with the broth and did not complain.  

We talked about the Christmas gathering til I have no clue what was really decided upon.  We drew names for gifts-that I am sure of.  Lyla played with her uncles and her cousin Dana read to her.  Brynn, being shy, stuck close to her Mama, but she did venture outside, with her uncle Tres.  We looked at old photographs and it was decided that the “Warren bloodline” was showing up in the grandchildren.  

When the kitchen was clean, and everyone had packed up . . and little Brynn was laying her head on her daddys’ shoulder, the party concluded.  Oh, how dreadful, to watch them all leave.  Some things never change.





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Beautiful, Ordinary Times

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Suddenly it is October!  I know because the mailbox was stacked full of bills.  The leaves weren’t saying so, nor the climate, for it is still hot at the rabbitpatch!  The  reliable window fans make all the difference.  The night air is a welcome relief from the heat of the afternoon.

For most of my adult life, October was the month, the first fire of the season was made.  Unless, things take a drastic turn, that is as highly unlikely, this year as it was last year.  We are still battling mosquitoes, at the moment.  A cooler weekend is in the forecast, at least.  If it holds true, I hope to take a walk by my old friend, “the Laughing River”, for tomorrow, I leave for Elizabeth City, where my very darling granddaughters abide. 


Friday has a different feel to it during the school year .  It is a light hearted feeling.  This is not so in months like July.  The liberty of summer does not distinguish  a Friday, from the other week days.  The hours passed and before I knew it, I was on that familiar stretch of highway, driving past massive fields of cotton .  “Snow has blossomed, I thought, for that is what a cotton field looks like this time of year. Then there were the fields of hay.  Some fields were picked and hay bales lined the road for miles.  October is a golden time in the country.  The absence of rain and the abundance of sunshine, are favorable conditions for farmers, now. 

I crossed the three rivers and how lovely to see the bright blue water shining and fairly sparkling .  The whole world seemed happy in those moments. 

Lyla bounded out the back door, calling out “Honeybee!!” when I drove up, and little Brynn smiled and clapped her hands. 


I had barely brought my bags in, when it was time to go again.  The “artwalk” a monthly event in Elizabeth City   was that night.   It is one of the things I like about the town.  Artists are encouraged to thrive.  Whether you are a painter or a potter, a cake decorator , arrange flowers, or a musician, you are honored, in the small town. One shop gave out pumpkins to be decorated and the Flour Girls  bakery gave out cupcakes, for children to decorate.  Lyla was as “happy as a lark” with such activities and was especially pleased with her pumpkin.


Saturday was cooler, as was predicted.  It was so pleasant to feel an autumn breeze, at long last.  I have lived my entire life in the south, and  just when  I think I will surely perish, an autumn breeze blows and my good nature is restored.  

Lyla and I sat outside.  I told stories about our imaginary community.   There are a lot of dolls in the community with names like “Marigold, Gypsy and Helen”.  They are bakers and librarians and the Nutcracker keeps the peace, when there are squabbles.  A rabbit named Cookie, just went to court, for trespassing and a baby named “Snapdragon” was just born to a  friendly witch named Clara.  Lyla helps solve problems and gives advice to the Nutcracker, on how to keep peace in the land.  A lot can happen in those afternoons when we are telling a story.  It is the easiest way I know of to teach compassion, forgiveness and disappointment, for things are not always “fair” in story land, either.   . .though all in all, it is a happy place.

Brynn and I spent time on the porch.  I would name the things we saw, til I could say words like trees, water and pumpkins, and she would point to the subjects.  Brynn loves the porch.   . .the swing , especially.  When she is “out of sorts” that swing acts like a tonic, on her.   

Now science has proven the benefits of swinging-but I knew, already for I have sought the comfort of an old swing on many occasions, myself.  Brynn  knows too.  It seems there is always some study going on -and it will make you shudder to think of the money spent -only to conclude a lot of things, which our elders knew by instinct. . .or by observation.  


Lyla was drawing pictures, before breakfast on Sunday morning.  Her Aunt Sydney is a bonafide artist and had given Lyla a very nice collection of pencils, markers and crayons, on our visit to meet baby Ryan.  Lyla, has made good use of them, ever since.  I wondered if Lyla, was like me, waking up full of notions to create, in the first hours of day. ( I love to write in the mornings.)

She drew pictures of us at night, and in all the seasons.  I treasure her art, for to me, these are her journals.  She is drawing her memories and things hoped for, after all.  Lyla takes her drawing seriously , just as her uncle Christian always has.

Will and Jenny decorated the house for autumn and how lovely it looked.  Lyla was thrilled as she loves to decorate as much as Miss Claudia ever did. We had an early supper on Sunday and I left with barely enough time to make it home before dark. 

I left under a sky the color of apricots.  The glow of the light turned everything a warm shade of tawny gold .  The water and cotton fields, all seemed to be celebrating early autumn in the twilight hour.  I felt content to have had such a weekend.  It may sound a bit too ordinary, for many.  But, to me it was grand.  I cherish stories told under the stars and songs sung in a porch swing.  There is an undeniable magic present under such circumstances.  It is not idle time, to hold the beloved children, nor to imagine, with them, but instead a deep understanding of one another unfolds- and if there is anything left to wish for . . . .then I don’t know about it.




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A Tempest in a Teapot

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After the glory of  last weekend, this week passed like a slow moving train, carrying me further and further away from one of the happiest times of my life.  I truly did my best to make an effort to notice the beautiful details of early autumn.  The cool breeze that made the oaks sing and the bright blue flowers of the hydrangea that have appeared like an encore performance , the stars that are like dazzling  silver dollars in the velvet black sky- and how I love the cheerful chrysanthemums that are now outside at the grocery stores.  . .still, I confess, I felt  pangs of melancholy, that I could not entirely shake.

It was to be expected, for how can anyone have such a holiday, celebrating the birth of a grandchild, with  all the beloved grandchildren and children, gathered at once and just leave it without a degree of forlorn! I kept feeling like I was missing something so important, throughout the week.   

Oh, how spoiled I was as a child myself, when I took for granted that family lived next door or just across a  field.  I knew when Aunt Josie called my cousins in for supper . .. and when Aunt Agnes turned the lights on.  Now, I recognize the absurdity of my expectations.  I know full well, that times have changed.  I have friends that must catch a plane, to see their loved ones and they do not whine as I do.  To their credit, they do  not chide me for “the tempest, I am determined to brew . . . in my tea pot”.



On a brighter note, my back has improved steadily, till at last, I can return the cane to its’ rightful owner.  I still move carefully and wear sensible shoes . . .but I am thankful for the progress.  I have grown so accustomed to the half done ceilings, that I am no longer even bothered by them.   . . likewise, the piles of branches in the yard.  With the mosquitoes at full hilt, I am even less inclined to tackle that job.  The mosquitoes have also put quite a damper, on the “early service”  and my evening prayer, under the stars.  

With Will and Jenny, at Wills’  familys’  reunion and Brant and Sydney introducing Ryan to his great grandparents, this weekend, I do intend to do some tidying up and cooking, at the rabbitpatch.  


On Saturday morning, I woke up very thankful for the “drying room”  I had made recently, for it looked and smelled like rain, outside.  The “drying room, came about because the dryer quit working.  There is a big laundry room in the farmhouse.  There is a sink and cabinets in it and a large closet, too.  I had used the closet as a place to store cleaning products, mostly-and the mop and broom.  Just before, my back went out, I got the bright idea to hang clothes in there, that needed to dry.  There is a window in the closet, which made it a good place for such a thing.  I cleared the place out, and one thing led to another, til I was painting the walls and the old wood floor got white washed.  I put an old box fan in the window and added a clothes rack, made from some bulky wooden curtain rods, I had saved for some odd reason.  There were already hooks there and I made a small makeshift clothes line for socks that ran under the shelves.  I used ribbon til I could do better.  It has been three weeks, and I have not “done better” – but I declare it works.  Since it turned out so cute, I removed the door, which also made a difference when it came to carrying laundry in.

Now, sheets and towels must be hung outside, but the drying room is perfect for clothes and how handy it is!   . . .all because, “one thing led to another”  I have a functioning room that is also adorable.  That is how it usually seems to go for me.  I am convinced that I have had very few ideas that really panned out as I had expected.  Just about every project at this house could be a testimony, for the theory.  The fire pit came about because we spent a day collecting pavers scattered about the territory – and the “Quiet Garden”, was created in an odd place that was not suitable for anything but mowing . . .even  in the kitchen, for many times a cup of left over peas or a few small potatoes, have led to a huge pot of soup, that I never “saw coming”!

One day, the dryer will be fixed, but I like the drying room.  The earth deserves all the kindness, I can show it, after all – and  besides the practice saves money.   I suspect it is much easier on clothes, too.  


I had clothes washing and a pot on the stove by seven.  If I am home on the weekend, I spend Friday night, concocting plans for Saturday.  Saturday would be spent cooking.  I had chili for Daddy, spaghetti for Mama, Soup and navy beans for all of us, which still includes Kyle.  I wanted a cake and so I  would share that too.     ( I always want a cake.)

The early morning shower passed and the sun came out, brightly and soon it was hot.  I decided to wash linens and the dog beds, which required the line.  I washed floors while the stove earned its’ keep.  I kept a steady pace and little by little and inch by inch, some of this too big farmhouse, was looking like it ought to.  I did call Brant and Sydney, to hear the latest updates on Ryan.  He will be two weeks old tomorrow and I do not know how we ever got a long without him.


I am not sure when the gumption left me.  I do know it was before I made the cake. I talked to Jenny. Tres was with her as the reunion, that she and Will were attending, was just south of Wilmington.  Tres met them at the hotel with ice cream, which pleased Lyla and Brynn.

I did get a slight second wind and was at least able to get the kitchen cleaned and put all the laundry away.   . . and I did concoct another plan.  I plan on making that cake tomorrow.




When A Child is Born

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This was no ordinary weekend.    This was the time, we gathered to meet Baby Ryan.  He is one beautiful baby and as calm as a little lamb.  I watched the faces of every one as they held him for the first time and the magic and awe purely radiated their countenance.  The love was so thick in the air, you could feel it.  This was certainly no ordinary weekend.  The only thing that could have been better, is if it would have lasted longer.  


We got to Wake Forest, not long after noon, on Saturday.  It is a beautiful drive and the day was as “clear as a bell”.  The area is full of rolling hills and I imagined it was like a postcard, when it snowed.  Brant and Sydney live with Sydneys’ parents in a lovely home, on this side of Wake Forest.  It took us a bit more than an hour to get there.  Tres was already there,  when we arrived.  We received a warm welcome and then took turns holding Ryan.  He never so much as whimpered.  When he would open his eyes, we would announce it, and  all rushed to peek.  Jenny had coached Lyla on how to behave with a newborn and  so Lyla did not cause one bit of commotion.  Brynn was curious and gladly planted several kisses on his forehead . . but she was not so happy about Jenny holding Ryan.  

It was an especially sweet day. altogether.  Sydney is as wonderful a mother as I had imagined she would be.  She remains calm and confident – and though she looked very tired to me, she does not complain.  Of course, I need’t worry about Sydney . . or Brant or Ryan.  It did not take me long to see, that they were in good hands.   Sydneys’ parents, Amanda and Jason are warm, loving folks.  It did not take long to feel as if we were old friends, when I first met them.  Jason, carried Ryan here and there, with a look of utter contentment on his face.  Amanda catered to everyones’ needs.  She had a table set up with cheeses, vegetables, fruits etc.  Amanda found things to occupy Lyla, too, for we stayed all day. She and I shared some time together, and I knew right off, that I loved her.  

No matter how many hours passed, we did not seem to “wear out our welcome”.


The hotel was just minutes away and so we made plans to go back, the next morning, for a quick visit.    Even with everyone “waiting on me hand and foot”, my back  hurt and I was in bed in just minutes.

We woke early and had a good breakfast at the hotel.  We left to see the baby, right afterwards.  They were all up.  Amanda was glowing, even after all that entertaining, the day before.  Jason was holding Ryan and Sydney seemed rested.  We had coffee and adored Ryan again.  Then we commenced to taking pictures.  “A picture is worth a thousand words” rings true, it seems, for these pictures tell our wondrous story . . .a love story . . . when a child is born.     

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A Time to Dance

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Things have not settled down at the rabbitpatch, since Sunday.  I get daily reports about Ryans’ first days, and so does Jenny.  Even Tres, who does not like to chat on the phone, has put that aside to know the latest details about his nephew.  We want to know everything .  I know that just today, Ryan did not cry when his diaper was changed.  I am glad of that too, for Brant says “it hurts his heart, when Ryan cries.”!  I know that Ryan napped for two hours this afternoon – and on and on we go with such minute details, to just make it til the weekend.

Pictures are sent back an forth that just prove  our ravings about Ryans’  beauty are well grounded.   . .and plans are going back and forth too.  Will, Jenny, the girls, Tres and I are all going for a short holiday on Saturday. so we are planning meals and travel arrangements.  It really is hard to think of much else. . . unless you count my back.  What a damper that puts on things!  

My director, has been very accommodating, allowing me to go in a bit later and leave when I can.  I am using a cane, too.  That helps tremendously, but goodness, I am moving as slowly as “molasses in January”!  Of course, all that matters to me, is being able to hold Ryan.  I also worry, that Lyla, may fret that her Honeybee, is any distress, for she has a compassionate heart.  Brynn will not flinch as she is on a constant mission, to know every detail of her world.  She does not consider anything “out of reach”  nor “out of range”, so she is busy.

The mosquitoes have made life fairly miserable, as of lately.  I am not exaggerating when I say that dozens of them lie in wait to ambush anyone who opens the back door.  I have no mercy on them, for I am swatting like a mad woman hobbling, on the way to the car.  On Wednesday, cooler air came in.  How delightful that was and I do hope it thins out those awful mosquitoes.  This is part of the aftermath of a hurricane.

Each day turned into the next one, til at last it was Friday-the eve of the “holiday”  . .  . the day before, we meet Ryan. . . the day that I will see my son, as a father, for the first time.  I will see Lyla meet  her “baby brother cousin” as she calls him.  . . and what will Brynn think to see someone smaller than her?  How beautiful it is to consider all of this.  


Since I have five children, I have spent the most of my life raising them.  One by one, they grew up, til at last, it is down to me and Christian.  For years, I mourned this.  The laundry was always caught up and suppers got smaller, which made the table seem bigger.  Evenings got quiet and mornings lacked any commotion.  I no longer needed to rush, when I was out nor call to make sure things were going smoothly, at home.   Grass grew up at the basketball goal.   I cried for years at the silent house.  I did not relish the freedom of a nest that did not need tending.  Many of my friends were in the same predicament and were thrilled, mostly, with this new liberty.  They took trips and joined clubs, but I lived for visits from the children and wouldn’t plan a thing . . .just in case.

Finally, the dust settled and I made some sort of peace with my circumstances.  I planted flowers and more fruit trees.  I tended a garden and preserved the food.  My pantry was always full.  I raised rabbits, chickens and miniature goats.  I read a lot.  Then Lyla was born. . . .and things changed again.  Since you cannot tend to a farm, and “run the roads, too” . . . I let the garden grow up and found homes for the animals.  


Looking back, at those years, “before grandchildren”, I realise it was a time of personal growth.  I had never had any real time to focus on myself, nor to deeply reflect on my  own truth.  Working with the soil in the garden, was healing.  The garden became my friend and faithfully kept my secrets. It is a lot of work to keep a garden tidy, and I found the same could be said of a pure heart.  The heart needs constant attention, so it too does not become filled with “bad seeds”.   There was always a rabbit out, to worry about and the goats ate my flowers on occasion.  I found out that a Shepherd, will worry about the lost and forgive the wicked, as it is written.  I also found out, that one can be happy, in all sorts of circumstances, too.  That season was time well spent, in spite of my reluctance to be there.


Now, here I am, years later, in a new season.   It may be my “time to dance” season.  . . . It sure feels like it.  Sometimes I feel like I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth.



It Happened on Sunday!

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We all  got the phone call, we have been waiting for, on Sunday morning.  After that, we kept calling one another with any updates, we had.  We were in our separate homes, but it felt like we were waiting together.  By noon, we were all told that Sydney was doing fine and the doctor thought we would have our little son by evening.

I couldn’t think straight that day.  I cried, I prayed and oh how I just wanted it to be over.  Finally, around 3:30, Brant called and said, the baby would be born shortly. By 4:00, he sent pictures of a beautiful, healthy son. Thomas Ryan was born at last.

He weighed 7 lbs 4 oz and was 19 inches long.  He has a lovely complexion and dark hair.  He will be called Ryan, after Sydneys’ daddy, who must still be smiling.  Thomas is Brant’ first name.

We are all going to Wake Forest, this weekend to meet little Ryan.  If there is a sweeter time in life, than  when a new baby  is born in the family, I do not know about it.  




Grandmothers and Gooseberry

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School started back today for us.  The hurricane may have littered our yards and sadly taken a few trees, but we fared good, compared to our neighbors, on the coast.  

The children came back with all sorts of tales of the storm . . .and the clean up.  I was complaining because my back was “out” and everyone had either stepped in fire ants, gotten scratched or had blisters from working.  Still, I can not imagine the destruction that some folks or dealing with . . or the loss. 

The good news is that people are helping.  A building supply store is offering discounts on the items needed to rebuild.  Civic groups and Churches are sending meals and many, many people are making all sorts of donations.  Folks are doing what they can to ease the suffering . . .and that means so  very much.  It is a silver lining and a testimony, that there is goodness in the world.

Brynn had her actual birthday on Tuesday.  I thought of her all day and wondered how we ever got along without her.  I gave her a music box, that plays “You Are My Sunshine”.  The first ginger lily of the season, bloomed on her birthday and I couldn’t help but notice.  


Brants’ little son, should be here any day now.  When the phone rings, there is a scurry to answer it.  Sydney remains as calm as can be.  I do hope the baby inherits her perpetual sense of peace.  There is a full moon this weekend-and apparently it is a rare one.  Though science does not support the notion, that a full moon has any thing to do with impending births. the prospect is exciting. 

I remember the days before I became “Honeybee”.  Truthfully, I was unsure how to be a grandmother.  Everyone said it was wonderful and many told me, I would need to  adjust my budget , for I would want to buy everything available for the modern child.  I would also tolerate poor behavior, as it was not my problem, after all  .  . . and worst of all, I would love the grandchildren more than my own children!  This was not my nature at all, and so I was convinced I just would not get it right.  Well, none of that happened.  What did happen was that I found a new kind of love.   . .a realm I did not know existed.  Being a grandmother is “everything its’ cracked up to be”.  And there is more  good news, it happens quite naturally.  You love them because they were born.  It is an uncomplicated, pure affair

By the time, you are a grandmother, you know what matters-what lasts for all times. The passing of many years, now pays off, for because of that, there are stories to tell. We will celebrate at the drop of a hat and sing praises of our grandchildren, “til the cows come home”.   Grandchildren renew our strength . . .and we are not scared to use it.  We stand in the shadows ready to pounce at the slightest inkling that we are needed.  The world and its’ cares, are lost on grandparents . . .all because we are head over heels and hopelessly smitten with those grandchildren.


I remember my own grandmothers with great fondness.  My maternal grandmother was right next door.  she kept Baby Ruth bars in the”Kelvinator”and gingersnaps in the cupboard.  She gave me coffee on occasion, diluted with  canned milk, in a china tea cup.  This was a great privilege, as children ought not to drink coffee.  She told stories which were full of tragedy and promised to buy me a monkey, when she got rich.   I took it for granted, that she loved me better than any one else in the world, for that is how she made me feel.   I was not a pretty child with my reddish hair and freckles . . .and skinny, but I felt beautiful in her presence . . .and she convinced me I was bright, too.  She died suddenly when I was ten years old, now fifty years ago, yet I can still remember the sound of her voice.  In those short years, Grandmama loved me enough to last  a lifetime.


My paternal grandmother lived til ninety three.  She was as sweet and tender a spirit as I have ever known.  She taught me to love flowers and birds . . .and to pray about everything.  She had a hard life, but she was not bitter about it.  She felt blessed.  She loved animals, wild and tame  -and mimosa trees.  She was generous and she was the least judgmental person I have ever known.  I am so thankful that all of my children, got to know her and know her well. 

It is no wonder that I take the role of a grandmother, or in my case, “a Honeybee” so seriously. 


Every day of the week was clear and full of hot sunshine. With my back out, the house and yard were mostly untouched.  I have two projects going on in the house, which are two ceilings now.  The laundry room had several loose tiles too, and so I “peeked” beneath to find more beautiful bead board.  At least, I will not even have to paint it, for it is a lovely shade of green.  I just can not get on a ladder now.  I can barely get in the car, so both rooms are about half done and quite unsightly.  The piles of branches in the yard are right where I left them, so the territory is as awful as the house.  Kyle is living on his own now, and Christian works long, odd hours and is barely awake for supper. That leaves it to me and the boxer.  The boxer doesn’t let it bother him and so neither do I.  

I believe now, that flexibility is crucial to a happy life -or at least it has been for me.  I make plans, like everyone else, but things seldom fall into  the place, I had designated.  Expectations require a lot of energy and if you “set your heart on it” . ..well, there is always the chance of unnecessary disappointment.  Many many times, things have not worked out as I expected and as it turns out, all was well in the end, anyway . . .and often better, that I could have imagined.  I still, faithfully plan supper and what I am wearing to work, the night before.  . .but lifes’ plans are a different story.  When situations do not work out as I had thought would be best, these days,  I am reminded that I am not in control, and I am relieved, for I know my ideas were wrong.  It has only taken my lifetime and A LOT of gooseberry nets to learn this.


Moving slowly, has its’ advantages, I am finding out.  Down the garden path, I notice the floss flowers are setting new records, for they are everywhere!  The chives have gotten a second-wind and are blooming again.  They are a pretty sight and so full of flavor.   Now and then, I catch a glimpse of a golden leaf floating to its’ destiny.  They seem to dance  as they fall-a grand finale to their season.

I do not mind time, the way nature tells it. I couldn’t argue with a full moon or a sunrise or a ginger lily for – “love or money”.   I can not complain with mornings bathed in silver fog nor with  golden fields .  I have no quarrel with the lowly  and aggressive , swamp flowers, for they are as bright a yellow as I know of.  These are the “bells and whistles” in nature. Time is ushered in, gently . . .in the most beautiful manner . . .and invites everyone to celebrate.