Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Category: Just for Fun

Chasing Spring at Longwood | Photos

This morning I woke up wishing I were in Longwood Gardens. So here’s a quick tour of my first visit to the Gardens nearly one year after breaking my jaw in April 2016. Our daughter and her husband were visiting from Portland, Oregon. 

Two days ago we took a chance on the weather. D and I, our daughter and her husband piled into the car and drove to Longwood Gardens. My first visit since April 2016. The forecast promised breaks of sun during the day, and temperatures above 60 degrees F. Here are choice photos from our great adventure. Enjoy!

The garrulous catbird in the top photo greeted us in the parking lot.
Never missed a beat.

Here’s a first glimpse of Spring 2017 at Longwood Gardens,
just outside the visitor’s center.

These giant copper beech are across the field,
a first gorgeous sight as we leave the visitor’s center.
Note tiny people on the left side of the tree walk.

Heading toward the flower walk, we’re walking into
the small desert garden of sun-lovers.
No trees overhead.

Turning right, we start down the ‘cool’ color end of the flower walk.
Imagine masses of flowers that look like a living
patch-work quilt that changes each season and every year.

Just to the right of the center fountain in the flower walk
is a beautiful sunken garden
with a serpent fountain overlooking a water pot.
Imagine the sound of water almost everywhere in the gardens.

Now we move into ‘warm’ colors, followed at the end
by a patch of cool green foliage and flowering whites.


Finally, gorgeous blooming wisteria in a shady space
just downhill, beside the flower walk.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 May 2017, reposted 5 May 2021

Photo credit: DAFraser
Longwood Gardens in Kennet Square, Philadelphia

Early Spring at Longwood | Photos 1

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Rosebud popping out and a vacant bird nest for rent near Longwood’s large lake

Here’s a repost of some favorite photos. They’re about new life and new growth emerging from what often looks like death or the end of the world as we’ve know it. Signs of hope and beauty. Not forever, but for a season.

Yesterday was gorgeous! Cloudy, breezy, mild. Perfect for visiting Longwood Gardens. Here are some favorites taken, as always, by D. All I did was point my finger now and then if he hadn’t already clicked the camera!

We’re at the front end of the flower walk, near the main entrance.
These perky blossoms were in the cacti and succulent area,
popping up out of the gravel.
They look like they’re crafted from crepe paper.

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Nearby were more sedate, formal stonecrop
in different shapes and patterns.
This one wasn’t as uptight as some of the others!

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The following are from the flower walk itself–
a formal promenade between ever-changing seasonal plants and flowers.
Yesterday only the early signs of spring were out.
Even so, it was spectacular, and had me in tears a few times.
There’s something healing about seeing life
spring from the still-cold ground.

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Here we have early spring tulips,
followed by daffodils against a stone wall
and another variety of tulip.

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This is one of Longwood’s magnificent Japanese cherry trees in full bloom.
We’re just over halfway through the flower walk.
You can see scores of tulips and other bulbs not yet in bloom.
Three views of the cherry tree–

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Finally, a few more early tulips in creamy white,
and dainty snowdrops.
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I wish I could have taken all of you with me in person!
I have more photos, though, and will share some of them later.
Happy weekend, everybody!
Smell a flower today and smile at someone you don’t even know.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 April 2016, reposted 8 April 2021
Photo credit: DAFraser, March 2016
Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania

The unsung life of birds | Photos

Junco huddles in bare lilac bush one day after the storm

Swarming outside our kitchen window
They take speedy targeted turns
Though not always with good manners
Flocking nonstop to the one thing
They need this season above all else –
A turn at the table set for everyone

The pecking order becomes clear
In the space of about three minutes

Red-bellied woodpeckers take top honors
Clearing the deck and wrapping themselves
Around the feeder in order to get that
One big seed and retreat to the nearest tree

Feisty cantankerous house finches follow quickly;
Swarming house sparrows hog the food and linger
Fighting furiously for the best seat at the table;
Chickadees and tufted titmice land, grab and go;
Red and white-bellied nuthatches often prefer it
Upside-down and are gone in a flash,
Favorite seeds gripped in razor-sharp beaks

Brilliant male cardinals and their mates hover
In nearby shrubs, watching for an opening
Though he frequently shoves her to the
Sidelines where she patiently (?) waits her turn
Beside sweet grey and white juncos sitting
On the porch rail watching for just the right
Moment to swoop in and grab a bite or two

Isn’t it wonderful to write scripts for the birds? I wonder what they would write about us.

This week we’ve had ample time to study the seed and suet feeders. Generally speaking (in case you’re wondering), ubiquitous gray squirrels are being deflected from the impenetrable bird feeder, thanks to the recently hung suet feeder. They prefer trying to bite through the suet screen, hoping to break in and grab the whole cake!

David took the photos above and below the day after this week’s wild wind, snow, sleet and ice storm. Enjoy!

The morning after the storm

House sparrows

Nuthatch on suet feeder; yes, the squirrels managed to spring the cage, but not far enough to deliver the whole cake!
Now fully secured, assuming they can’t bite through small padlocks….

Red male cardinal feasting

Female cardinal and a white-bellied junco

I pray this closing week of Advent brings hope and peace into parts of our lives that are difficult at any age.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 December 2020
Photos taken by DAFraser, 17 December 2020

empty wasp nest

swaying in chill breeze
an empty wasp nest hangs
ready for nesting birds

D took this photo in September 2020. So now you must imagine the tall shrub leafless. Also imagine the virtually but not totally wild possibility that birds might make a nest in one of these.

We almost took the wasp nest down this fall. Then I found out Paper Wasps don’t return to their meticulously crafted nests. If this nest remains intact through the winter (it probably won’t), could it become a welcome bird house next Spring? Probably not, but I can dream.

The now empty nest hangs just outside my office window. When I first saw it, I freaked out. At the very least, it was an eyesore. At worst, these diligent wasps might attack me the next time I step onto the front porch!

When I’m out walking with D, we see these nests in tall trees around our neighborhood, always from a distance. Right now I could open my office window and tap this one, now abandoned, with a yard-long ruler.

You may well be wondering….

Is this a diversion from the news of the day? Probably. But I’m enjoying it immensely. Think about it! There may be more hope for the future hanging outside my office window, than there is inside the White House today.

Hoping your Wednesday is relatively peaceful, all things considered.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 November 2020
Photo taken in September 2020 by DAFraser

autumn’s chill air

autumn’s chill air seeps
through pores in sweaters and skin
night falls swiftly

shaggy gray squirrels race
to inspect and relocate
winter’s cold rations

a mob of starlings
rises together babbling
and whistling cat calls

from the softball field
the sound of balls pinging bats
soars through damp fall air

I pick up my speed
as twilight quickly descends
toward tomorrow’s dawn

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 October 2020
Image found at ephotozine.com

Ghouls and Fools

Behold my four ghouls
Some greater than others
Designed to affright
disgust or delight

Traditional Irish Jack-‘o-Lantern (above) inhabits
the Museum of Country Life in Ireland

Modern carving of a Cornish Jack-‘o-Lantern
made from a turnip

Modern carving of a North American
Jack-o’-Lantern pumpkin
designed, hand carved and photographed
by my delightfully irrepressible Sister #3, Diane
who died of ALS in February 2006

Happy Halloween, Everybody!

2020 Comment: This old 2017 post is already getting looks, so here it is! The original title was Ghoulish Gallery. The changed title (Ghouls and Fools) is an obscure, slightly hidden archaic reference to our current State of Affairs only two weeks away from the 2020 Election.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 October 2017, reposted 21 October 2020
Halloween witch image found at pinterest.com
Images of Cornish and Irish Jack-‘o-Lanterns found at Wickipedia
Photo of Jack-‘o-Lantern pumpkin taken by Diane Renich Kelley

It’s Monday morning!

Coming in for a landing
jostling for space
grabbing the prize
and gobbling it down
or flitting away to
a private dining room
in the brilliant maple tree
they swarm like bees

Red-bellied woodpeckers
hairy and downy woodpeckers
an occasional flicker
house finches and sparrows
tufted titmice and chickadees
red-bellied nuthatches
and plain black and white nuthatches
red cardinals and reddish-brown mamas
plus uncertain adolescents
interrupted occasionally
by raucous blue jays jumping
up and down and all over
our squirrel-proof birdfeeder

I wanted to come upstairs
and write a letter to you
but the birds kept calling out
with their happy dances plus
indiscriminate pooping on the porch rail
while Smudge slept soundly
on his special rocking chair
in the living room
resting from his nighttime
take-down of a baby cricket

It’s Monday morning
and I’m feeling rather frisky
and just a bit bold if not brave
Autumn is the most poignant
season of all with its nonstop
invitation to dance as leaves
flutter to the ground sparkling
with golden glory next to cast-off
pods from birdseed plus the other
stuff too all over the place
like a spatter paint job on
porch and lawn feeding the aging
grass with free fertilizer from above

A bit of nonsense, and a prayer that your week will be full of unexpected surprises of the good kind. Happy Monday, no matter what!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 October 2020
Photo of female Red-Bellied Woodpecker found at pilotonline.com

The Naming of Cats

In Honor Of Prince Oliver Smudge the Second, aka Smudge,
Who spent his royal time this day being transported by his Proud Owners,
Queen Elouise and King David, to and from His Royal Highness’ doctor’s office

Nothing life threatening. Just a nagging pain in his right rear paw pads. It takes all the fun out of rough-housing and running around the house chasing mice and crickets. Still, he’s to see a cat heart doctor in the next few weeks to find out how serious his newly diagnosed heart flutter is and what to do about it. In the meantime, he gets to be all lazy and fawned over. What a life!

No, I didn’t plan this post for today. It just happened, folks. However, I’m well into James Cones’ book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. I’m also reading W. E. B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk, and re-reading slowly Mary Oliver’s slender volume of poems, Thirst.

Yesterday evening, I played my piano for the first time in months. We bought it right after our daughter was born in 1970. It traveled with us from South Carolina to Southern California to Nashville, Tennessee, to Pennsylvania. As beautiful as ever.

Smudge has always left the living room when I’ve started playing. He loves to walk all over it (lid closed on the keyboard!), but seems allergic to my playing. Last night, however, he wasn’t feeling as frisky as usual, and stayed right on his chair while I played.

Hoping your days are filled with beauty, truth and hope. Not because the sun is going to come out tomorrow, but because creation never stops playing music for us. We just have to listen for it. Not to deny the seriousness of life, but to baptize life today with a different kind of truth. Truth that reminds us of our Creator’s presence no matter what happens next.

Thanks for visiting!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 October 2020
Poem and image found at tumblr.com

My week in review – with Smudge

Smudge watching our squirrel-proof birdfeeder

This past week felt like an out of control rollercoaster. Up one moment, down the next. Clearly running out of steam. I thought I had this Covid-19 lifestyle all sorted out.

There’s something diabolical about maintaining a Covid-19 lifestyle while watching Covid-19 cases rise, POTUS tank, voting procedures being weaponized, fires on the West Coast, hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, and general disarray throughout a country that now feels more like fiefdoms. Oh…not to forget the plot to kidnap a female governor and begin an internal uncivil war. This is not a joke.

Nothing is so discouraging as watching POTUS & Crew flounder daily. No, I don’t watch or listen to the news all day. Just once a day is more than enough.

Thankfully, I accomplished several things this week. First, I voted by mail, using a friendly drop box at a nearby library. Done! Second, I had my annual “Wellness Visit” for old folks. The major goal is to identify elderly citizens who need further follow-up or help. I’m happy to say both D and I got a pass for the coming year. We also got flu shots. Mine hurt for several days. D’s didn’t. Life is so unfair.

While talking with my wonderful primary care doctor, she asked about my writing. I told her about my poem, Haunted, including the fact that I sent it off along with a letter to the editor of a local south George weekly newspaper. She requested a copy of the letter and the poem! Why? Because some members of this family practice have begun a voluntary small group meeting to talk about issues including racism. I was stoked and grateful.

As for the photo below, I didn’t see the dead mouse until I finished breakfast. No, Smudge didn’t eat it. The poor little mouse is now somewhere on its way to dust. Nonetheless, I was impressed by the way Smudge chose to announce his overnight triumph!

Little things mean a lot. Especially now.

Praying you’re finding your way through these strange days.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 October 2020
Photos of Smudge taken by ERFraser, late September, and 9 October 2020

Hugs and More Hugs!!!

Here’s a shout-out to my bloggy friend Carolyn, Queen of Hugs! Yesterday she got super-good news from her doctors. Today she asked her readers to do something to celebrate her milestone. I thought the video at the top was fabulous. So I’m posting it in honor of Carolyn. (Check out the link above to read about her good news, and see the way she announced it.)

My favorite evening wind-down shows are all about animals and the way they’re cared for. In well-run zoos, on refuge farms, in vet clinics formal and informal, here and abroad. You name it. It doesn’t matter. The bond between owners and pets or rescued animals is awesome.

Maybe we could learn a lesson or two about joy and faithfulness from their remarkable, unpredictable behavior. To say nothing about what it means to give and receive love.

In the meantime, huge congratulations to Carolyn, giver and receiver of many hugs!

Happy October! Don’t forget to hug a special person, pet, or animal today. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what joy feels like.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 October 2020
Video of Amazing Animal Hugs hugs found on YouTube

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