Tag Archives: love

Versatile and Beautiful Lavender

Summer Lavender Grosso

Above, a hedge of lavender next to my driveway popped into glorious fragrant bloom in June. I don’t know who was more excited – me or the bumble bees.

I can never bring myself to cut the flowers while they are in full bloom – the sun on the flowers is too glorious. But when they’ve passed their prime they still cut beautifully and are wonderfully fragrant.

Cut lavender fills the kitchen with fragrance

When my son’s girlfriend saw my giant pile of cut lavender she immediately thought of lavender lemonade, and took a handful to make lavender syrup. It was delicious.

Easy to grow and easily available, lavender will grace your garden, attract pollinators, and is truly a sensory joy. Lavender is drought tolerant, does well in zones 6-10.

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May in New England is Heaven

Lilacs nodding in the sun

Many would say that the months between and including December and April are too damn cold in New England. On most days I am among those people, saying to anyone who will listen that New England is no place to age.

But then May comes.

Along with the trees bursting to life in bright spring green, pink, white, red and yellow, the lilacs appear. For a couple of weeks the air is fragrant with them. Lilly of the valley perfume the air at night, a sweet, haunting, beautiful scent. And (where applicable) strawberry flowers open delicate white petals to the new sun.

Strawberry flowers

And the forget-me-nots, chives with their globes of purple flowers, bleeding hearts– all of this after the famous bulbs. It’s like having a baby – you forget the pain of childbirth when you hold a baby in your arms. A similar thing happens here in May. The discomfort of winter fades and softens, replaced by wonder, joy and pleasure. Also lettuce, snap peas, radishes and rhubarb. 🙂


As I write this I’m sitting on the porch listening to crickets. The last of the day’s light illuminates the sky in periwinkle-gray, the trees make dark silhouettes and the last intrepid birds are still singing — calling home family members that have stayed out too long, perhaps. A flash of pink lightening in the sky.

Pretty heavenly.

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When the kids were small we learned our son had allergies to pretty much everything – except, miraculously, to dogs.  

So we decided to adopt a dog from a shelter, and began searching.  We found it harder to find what we were looking for – a puppy – than we imagined we would but eventually we zeroed in on a litter of roley poley looking spotted dogs sheltered in upstate new york.  The family piled into the car and we drove there to see them.  The kids, of course, were expecting to return with a new family member and truth be told, so were we. 

We arrived and met the woman we’d spoken with via email.  After greetings and a exchanging remarks on a few process details, we went into the kennel.  The puppies were sweet and the kids were enchanted.  Meanwhile, I noticed another dog – leggier than the puppies, huddled in a corner a few feet away.  His fur was black, entirely black, and he was somewhere between puppy-hood and young-adulthood.  I went over to look at him.  Seeing me, he scrambled out the trap door that lead outside to where he could relieve himself.  

I asked Jen, our host, about the dog.  “That’s Jackie.  He’s not up for adoption.”  

“Why?” I asked.  

“He’s anti-social.  He has worms, and we’ve been taking him home with us to see if we can rehab him but I think we’ll probably put him down.”  

My heart sank.  

“Can we meet him?”  

She hesitated.  “I guess there’s no harm.”  She opened up his kennel and we walked out to his outdoor area, the kids trailing.  Jackie was curled up in a corner, eyeing us warily.   

“This is what I mean.  He’s always like this.”   

Jackie was thin, and his coat was rough looking.  “How old is he?” I asked.   

“Three months,” said Jen.   

I felt terrible for him.  I walked toward him slowly, making friendly noises, but he ran to another corner, putting distance between us.   “I think we should take him,” I said, not really thinking about what I was saying.  

My husband looked at me, not surprised, sighed, and said “she’ll decide who comes home with us,” meaning it would be my choice despite being one of four people.  He smiled.  

“It’s okay with me.  He looks like he needs love.”  The kids were disappointed.  They liked the spotted roley poley puppies.  They were friendly and playful.  This dog was decidedly not either of those things.  

Jen seemed unsure about our offer.  After some exchange on how we’d care for him, she agreed to let us take Jackie home.  We loaded him into the crate we’d brought and promised to treat his worms.  The kids made the best of it during the drive home, agreeing that this dog needed a home and the others would surely be adopted.  We talked about names.  And we settled on Tucker.  

Years later, Tucker was our rock.  He’d grown into a beautiful black shephard.  When my husband and I split, Tucker came with me, and my new little house felt a lot more like home.  Everyone loved Tucker.  He was mellow, friendly, and greeted everyone with a wag.  

And then one day when he was out in the yard he bolted into the street, probably chasing a squirrel or rabbit.  And he was hit.   

Tucker didn’t live.  We carried him to the vet and they tried to save him but couldn’t.  We all cried for days.  We talked about planting him under a rose bush but ultimately I didn’t.  I knew we would move to another house one day and I kept his ashes.  Four years later I still have them.  I still think about the nights my children were with their father after we split, Tucker curled up with me for company.  He was the best friend I took a little for granted.  Until he was gone.  And I’ve never been the same.   

We all carry him around in our hearts, especially me.   

We live on a farm, now, with a couple of other rescues.  I’m sure he would have liked this farm, so I am planning to bury him here in my garden with a rose bush over him.   

I want him to rest somewhere beautiful and to go back to the goddess, who gifted him to us, worms and all.    

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Imbolg Wishes, 2014

Candle Garden

Imbolg, a fire festival marking the first stirrings of spring, is a long tradition in our family.  Every year we plant a candle garden filled with the desires we hold closest to our hearts, and share (if we want to) what we planted with each other.  These things we intend to cultivate during the coming growing season, while the days grow and stretch longer toward the summer solstice, the sun finally reaching its  longest stay in the night sky.

For myself, in a new house, my children growing and beautiful, there is the obvious desire to experience and express love.   And in 2014 I have a special wish for tranquility.  Tristan and Inga both chose to focus on endeavors they’re currently engaged in, growing personal improvement and mastery in their respective areas.  Perhaps at this time next year we’ll be able to reflect on what we decided to plant and feel satisfied with what we grew.

For now, though

time is a river, and every year we flow into new territories, finding ourselves changed and renewed, grown and altered by the ones we’ve left behind …

May the coming growing season bring a journey filled with love, happiness, and all good things for every one of us.

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Ever After

The nighttime sky is a bed of stars, luxuriant in repose, a birthplace for beginnings

and endings

Every thing of beauty, every blooming heart, comes from there

Every thing that is meant to be, every fated ending, goes there.

Most nights, the moment comes for the moon to rise over the trees and friends and lovers find each other in the diffuse light

know each other, embrace each other,

And live happily ever after.

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Years ago in the spring I went walking at dusk in Boston; the gray sky behind tall buildings bore hints of yellow and pink that seemed suggestive –

A full life that can somehow never be full enough looks to the sky for signs of what’s to come, visions and impressions;  such feelings and thoughts are the currency of such a person … especially one who deals in the logical, rational world of computer science all day long.

That night I had a date with a Frenchman.   It was April.  Snow had become rain, the streets of downtown Boston seemed promising.

All optimism, I gave myself to the evening.

The Silvertone was alive with a million after-work revelers.  The air was dark and surprisingly cool for a basement; the air conditioning infusing fresh air over a crowd of too-close professionals, the bartender in endless motion; the room full of couples doing what couples do – coupling tentatively, determinedly, desirously, Individually.

As every good reveler knows, the party eventually ends.  At least until the next one can begin …  and in the morning after, who you find yourself with can be telling.

Twelve years later there is a house.  And there are children.  And there have been beautiful trips, small moments, shared love, pain and sorrow.  We have given what we have to each other, to our children, and yet, the skies have become Autumn skies …

Beautiful as winter sets in.

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Family Dinner

The evening sky, in a kind of benediction, smiles down over the moving body of people on Massachusetts Avenue; folks leaving work, rushing past me as I lean on a sign post outside a restaurant, waiting for my brother to arrive, and reading the news.

People make their way under bands of clouds shaded in pink and lavender against  a cornflower sky, past the row of restaurants on the avenue, dodging others doing the same in the opposite direction, children in hand, dogs and partners in tow, bikes and books carefully maneuvered,  a woman leading her blind partner, a dog tied to a sign post.

My brother arrives, tall and handsome, smiling. The sky is smiling, too.

The restaurant he has chosen is crowded with families, meeting each other or arriving together, like we are.  We sit surrounded by children and couples, sharing pad thai, yellow curry, and a dotted conversation that is broken by topic changes un-introduced by the usual explanations, punctuated and broken by remarks, observations, and stories unrelated to the current of the discussion we are having.  Interjections surface, are acknowledged, and the conversation’s current resumes as if they had never occurred.

We talk the way two people who have known each other their whole lives can, without ever having to pause and ask the other to repeat or explain.   It’s the sort of conversation a stranger would probably think made little sense.

But it is like a news report, delivered in prioritized order, to us.  Some sadness to discuss, a few stories, two accomplishments, questions and information about work and family.  Candid thoughts we can share with each other, but perhaps not very many other people, serve as punctuation.

But especially we just sit together and eat like we used to as kids, and never do anymore.   The hour, the news, the stories, the sunset, are spent.

I worry about him, as I always do after we part, fretting on the train back to Alewife.  It’s a job of big sisters, I think as I am swept along in the crowd toward the turnstiles, to worry about little brothers, even if they are all grown up.

When I emerge alone from the station the sun has set and the dark stream of the night sky has settled over Massachusetts Avenue;  the smiling sunset now gone, leaving me with a memory of it.   Like the table my little brother and I shared as kids, like our evening in Porter Square, a memory, now.  One in a long river of many.

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A Silver Lining

silver lining

A silver lining illuminated a single cloud floating in the sky above my head, noticed first by my companion as we sat basking in late day August sunlight.

It appeared quietly, a visitor I failed to notice,  hanging in the sky and listening to us as we felt our way toward each other across the landscapes of our lives; here describing verdant places, relating stories, there owning up to places withered by neglect or discord,  each describing the sort of unexpected journey that life proffers when we try to live it fully.

He was direct, self-possessed, perhaps stronger and more mature; somewhat anxious, I thought, over where our conversation was taking us.  His eyes rested on the horizon, measuring the sky.

And I was absorbed in the moment:  enjoying his handsome face, the sun, the wine, his stories, the sound of his voice …  indulging in the sum of the moment as the sun sunk in the west, washing the patio in heat and light.

Our afternoon drink ended in a lingering kiss  sweeter than I could have imagined and a parting smile that felt like warm summer rain on my legs.

A silver lining that, credit where it is due, was all his creation on the landscape.

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Theology of Trust


Theology of Trust

When the call comes to announce a soul’s sudden departure; a child’s end

And all I can consider in the moment is

the lives of thankless, lesser mortals  extended far into old age,

The injustice of disease

man’s cruelty and indifference … these things in the landscape that never go away …

and then to close my eyes against the pain, reach out in silent prayer to

an ancient mother-father I neither know or understand, but sense

The mother-father of wishes and dreams

of birth, lovemaking, death …

why? Thank you it wasn’t my child

In this moment I feel so alone and feeble.

And then there is a quiet whisper, almost inaudible

Just against my ear or a faint humming in my mind

Reminding me that apples ripen in their time, unless they are first cut down

By drought or frost

In either case

The fates have their way.  Ripening love or stealing it from us –

All there is for us is to tend our apples and trust.

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Grapes ripening on a little vine in the backyard hang in indiscreet bunches, decorative baubles, playful and teasing,

not plump yet, turning a sugary shade of magenta from frosted green – perky, still firm, the color of spring.

Promising.  Not the kind you want to pluck, yet.

I contemplate readiness.  And time.  Desire, Impatience, and the satisfaction of ripeness.  The kind that you’ve waited a season for.  The kind that fills your mouth with so much pleasure you forget your name

and makes you glad you waited.

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