Thursday, November 22, 2007


Frost blankets our garden floor this Thanksgiving morning. Temperature registers 31 degrees as I gaze at the thermometer near the kitchen window. 'Think I may participate in an unusual event today... a nap.'

Yesterday was filled with some grocery shopping and advance preparation for today's dinner: cornbread was made as well as the cornbread stuffing; fresh cranberry and orange relish, enough to feed the neighbors; my pie crust dough awaits inside the refrigerator; the turkey luxuriates in the brine... and it is way too early in the morning to be doing this, but when the near full moon taps me on the shoulder and whispers 'just get up, brew some coffee and bake the pumpkin pies', there is no opportunity of returning to slumberland, so I comply. Absolutely, that's what most people want to be doing at 1:30 in the morning. (- O (that's me yawning with one eye still closed)

The pies are made, fresh broccoli is washed and trimmed, giblets have been cooked and diced for the gravy, yams are readied for the iron skillet, and the dried and oiled turkey awaits the oven's okay. I love to cook and especially so for those who appreciate it, and no food is wasted in our home for we enjoy our leftovers.

Several friends invited us to join them for dinner, but we decided instead to feed one of our hungry sons who decided to drive down to be with us. He had just finished his leisurely 8 mile run and instructed us to 'not hold back any butter or sugar.' We thought it would be fun to enjoy a rather low key day at home, and indeed it was!

My brother called from the east coast to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving, and the first thing he asked was, "And what are you thankful for this wonderful day?"

"First and foremost is my health, for without that all would not be the same, and secondly my family... our freedom and our friends."

For us, Thanksgiving does not represent pilgrims and football and shopping, but rather a reminder to recognize life's bountiful harvest and "give - thanks"... for my husband, our children, grandchildren and especially our parents and grandparents; our extended families and friends; for this country and the freedoms and privileges we so often casually accept; for the soldiers and officers who put themselves into harms way so that we may sleep peacefully at night; for our spiritual well being... for all the good in our lives...

... and each day may we find at least a moment of Thanks giving.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Morning Thoughts of Friends

We awoke as most mornings, before many, with the quiet and darkness of the early day offering us our time of quiet study while enjoying our first cup of coffee.

A flash of light, the sound of thunder... wow, that's unusual..., the wind and a light rain began. With darkness now behind us, we decided to go back to bed, snuggle like newlyweds do, and something of which we do not often take advantage... enjoy a lazy sort of morning.

With my husband's arms around me and from our bedroom windows we watched the dance of nature, the wind brushing against the waltzing firs as they swayed with refinement and in unison, to and fro, side to side, and with the precision of the Viennese. The fog swept effortlessly through the leafless branches, rolled forward, then tenderly swept away to grace the next partner in its path while only the whisper of its presence remained. How beautiful is the richness of the dark sienna branches of the Madrone.

Wasn't everything about last night so enjoyable? It was a third in a series of quarterly dinners whereby we and two other couples, our close friends, rotate the event. Donna and Ray hosted the main course, Sharon and Ron brought appetizers, we made dessert, and each of us offered a very fine bottle of wine (or two) and all to complement that dinner.

What wonderful friends we have! How does that happen? To think that a group of us came together because of one person and that man is no longer a part of who we are. Thankfully he has gone onto other things, but we remain, a much smaller group, but one stronger as a result of what we went through together.

Are people simply put in our path and we have to decide whether or not a relationship is worth pursuing? Throughout our lives we encounter many through work and shared interests, enjoy one another, but go on about our ways. Among them there are those to whom we are suddenly attracted, a personality we enjoy, a strength we see, and some may have a certain scent about them... a chemistry is felt between you.

A true friendship is more than just opening a door. It is a gift. It is a mirror of who we are, those common interests, the values and morals which keep us together, a bond... they are like family, except they choose to be with you.

We often speak of all the friends we have, but truly those friends who really count in our lives are few. We do not take them for granted, and they have no expectation of us nor we of them, as conditions are not required. How easy it is to just be with our friends and to enjoy their companionship for simply what it is.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Seasonal Transition

In less than nine months, we have transitioned from here...

to this...

to now...

... and I cannot tell you which I prefer most nor whether one brings more enjoyment than another.

The end of February blanket-of-white was short lived (since we get very little snow), and it disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived, but ever so calmly. The peace and tranquility of the winter garden offer time of reflection and rejuvenation. The intensity of growth is greatly diminished, yet the substance remains, and although the complexity is altered, blossoms and color continue.

Quiet and calm shift into a burgeoning period of fresh new and accelerated growth, a competitive nature of sorts. Who can be the first to find its way and emerge, to blossom, to flourish above the others and find its place in the sun? The fragrance, sights and sounds, the tremors of aliveness and excitement is sometimes overwhelming.

Summer's palette of color is extended far beyond expectation and then transforms into a vibrancy unparalleled in a magical spectrum of glorious fall. It's showtime for the cinnamon exfoliating bark of the Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) and the golden Ginkgo serves as backdrop to the inflamed Coral bark maple.

New ideas emerge during this period with thoughts of expansion and contraction and simplification. This is the perfect time of year that the garden canvas yields opportunity for additional balance and harmony.

We will enjoy this view from now until very early spring, such time as we cut back those remarkable grasses and the cycle will begin once again.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sea of Clouds

We awoke this morning to view these islands in a sea of clouds and 30 degrees being warmed by the color in the distant sky. Frost blanketed the ground and as I looked out into the garden, thoughts ranged from 'It is so intriguing how the foliage has been stripped from the tree branches of some while a few are only now beginning to transform into color (like the weeping cherry) and others hang on for a final act' to 'It shall be a good day in the garden'.

Our friends Aaron and Joan arrived this morning to pick up a few divisions from our ferns and Japanese bloodgrass (Imperata cylindrica) for their landscaping. What a relaxing and enjoyable time sharing plants, looking at the wine room we are building, picking apples for them to take, discussing our upcoming trips and holidays, having a bite of lunch... and they were on their way home for a little planting and an afternoon of football. These times of friendship and the enjoyment of such are so essential.

So it was back to work, planting a few of the divided ferns, cutting back and continuing some garden bed cleanup, listening to the turkeys yelping in the distance, and being grateful for these simple pleasures on this amazing day.

By now our Ginkgo biloba is normally in its full golden glory, but seems to be taking its time and delaying the action this year. If you happen to have one then you are aware of this specimen's splendor, not just that it is an ancient tree, the oldest living tree species, but that it orchestrates its closing moments.

All of the fan-shaped leaves are not only spun into yellow treasures of tonic, but remarkably, as a few leaves begin to release, a finale occurs, a yielding crescendo as each follows suit and all descend to its pedestal... a final bow... 'That's all for now... sure hope you enjoyed the performance'.

Before I depart this wonderland of hues for the day, I must capture these shades of burnt orange and umbers.

This most beautiful and intriguing deciduous Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) will lose all its needles shortly and expose a remarkable textured bark for winter's pleasure, and although the leaves of the Red Oak (Quercus rubra) will remain largely intact, the richness of color will soon be shed. Of course that blue of the conifer Arizona cypress 'Blue Ice' (Cupressus arizonica glabra) stays the same, regardless.

This beautiful fall day has kept me working in the garden longer than I should have been for I may have difficulty ambling adequately tomorrow, but one last stroll around. Temperature in the 50's, a clear blue sky and foliage which dances and sparkles in the late afternoon sunlight.

Another photo before I head in. The backlight of this Japanese maple, Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' stops me in my tracks as I admire the contrast, the depth and power of light against dark... I am reminded of having placed it there when it was a spindly two foot tall bargain and have felt the pleasure all these years in watching it develop and am thankful for what it has offered.