Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Beauty

The Ponds

Here’s a thought-provoking poem from Mary Oliver, followed by my comments.

The Ponds

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them—

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided—
and that one wears an orange blight—
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away—
and that one is a lumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

©Mary Oliver, in New and Selected Poems, Vol. One., pp. 92-93
Beacon Press, Boston, 1992

Of course imperfections aren’t necessarily nothing. Sometimes they’re distress calls. Or signs of neglect.

Still, like Mary Oliver, I also want and need to see big picture beauty in a water lily pond, garden or meadow. Because, as she puts it, “I want to believe [And I do!] I am looking into the white fire of a great mystery.”

The mystery, it seems to me, isn’t simply about water lilies. It’s also about us. Especially now. Not simply because each of us is beautiful, but because taken together, we reflect the light of a mystery beyond ourselves. Something beyond our beauty, our flaws, and our “unstoppable decay.” To say nothing of the muskrats (whose days are also numbered) looking to take us down one by one.

Especially now.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 July 2019
Photo found at pixabay.com

On a walk-around

On a walk-around
In my lofty attic
Sunday morning silence
Permeates the air

My mind and heart
Fly home revisiting
Large and small circumstances
Of my unscripted life

Memories flood back
Unsolicited reminders
Of turning points and
Individuals

Each a small piece of
What feels strangely like
Home away from the home
Of my weathered body

Not as it might have been
But as it was and is
In real time with real people
Some of them jerks

Important pieces
Of a great puzzle that
Still shape and encourage
Me into this —

A real woman with a real
Voice and calling
A disobedient beautiful
Daughter of Eve

Unfinished and sometimes
Impatient I wait wondering
What more will happen
Along the way

This week I’m going to schedule a first meeting with my new palliative doctor. I wasn’t expecting the end of my life to take this turn. Nonetheless, I see this new possibility as a wonderful gift. And yes, it will take significant thought and work on my part. Not just on behalf of myself, but with family members and doctors.

I anticipate getting things in some semblance of order, adjusting my thinking about what lies ahead, and enjoying what I most want and love to do. Which will certainly include writing.

Happy Monday to each of you!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 July 2019
Photo of Tybee Island Beach found at visitsavannah.com

Death and The Kookaburras

First, a poem from me, a few comments, and a poem from Mary Oliver.

One loss at a time
The challenge is laid down
So transparently
The message cannot
Be mistaken

It’s time to let go
To hold each day lightly
To give up great expectations
And the hope of getting
To the top of Mt. Everest
Or even within its foothills

Yet my body and soul
Cry out for more –
More time
More energy
More beauty
More music
As greed sets in
Along with hunger
For what I think
I’ve lost
Or never had

I’ve been unusually restless this past week. It was wonderful to connect with my new palliative care doctor on the phone. Now I’m waiting for my first face-to-face conversation, and find I’m uneasy.

Is this really what my life has come to? Something in me wants to hang on just a bit more, even though I know it’s time to begin letting go and shifting my attention and energy to what’s yet possible. On the other hand, who knows what Mt. Everest I’ll yet climb or even fly above in ways I never dreamed of.

Mary Oliver’s poem “The Kookaburras” has haunted me for the past week.

In every heart there is a coward and a procrastinator
In every heart there is a god of flowers, just waiting
to come out of its cloud and lift its wings.
The kookaburras, kingfishers, pressed against the edge of
their cage, they asked me to open the door.
Years later I wake in the night and remember how I said to them,
no, and walked away.
They had the brown eyes of soft-hearted dogs.
They didn’t want to do anything so extraordinary, only to fly
home to their river.
By now I suppose the great darkness has covered them.
As for myself, I am not yet a god of even the palest flowers.
Nothing else has changed either.
Someone tosses their white bones to the dung-heap.
The sun shines on the latch of their cage.
I lie in the dark, my heart pounding.

©Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. One, p. 87
Published by Beacon Press , Boston, 1992

That’s the challenge, isn’t it? The struggle between hanging on and letting go of what we were never meant to imprison. Not ourselves, not other people, and not kookaburras who just want to fly home to their river.

I want to let my spirit, my soul fly home. I also recognize the coward and procrastinator in me, wanting to say no, and walking away without unlatching the cage.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 July 2019
Photo found at australianmuseum.net.au

Late Spring at Longwood 2019 | Photos B


Walking in the meadow is the opposite of strolling down the flower walk at Longwood. The flower walk fairly screams (in a lovely voice, of course) for you to pay attention. In the meadow the vast fields and expansive sky overwhelm everything. If you want to see what’s happening, you have to keep your eyes peeled. A good photographer helps, too! Without D’s photo above, I might have missed those three tiny blossoms.

Ditto for this unusual display:

Instead of going up through the middle of the meadow, we decided to take a longer walk to a forested area. It’s full of birch trees, has a stream flowing through it, and lower temperatures than the open meadow.

The first photo below features a lovely grassy path. The second is an old farm house converted into an historical museum about this land and its uses over the years. We didn’t walk that far this time. If you visit Longwood, a small tram makes regular trips back and forth to the museum. It’s well worth a visit. Air conditioned, with restrooms.

As we descend toward the birch tree forest, the path looks a bit like a washed out gulley. Even so, the little butterfly didn’t mind! I think it’s a Painted Lady. In the third photo we’re in the wooded area, standing on a small bridge, looking down at mud and debris left over from spring rains.




Below are twisted roots of a tree just beside the creek. They’ve ventured into the water. In the second photo, taken from the opposite side of the bridge, water is flowing downhill over rock formations. Though you can’t see them, hungry mosquitoes are in feast mode! We didn’t linger.

We passed numerous bird houses, with or without roof-top gardens; some with occupants. The two birds below are swallows.

At the top of the meadow this bee hotel had already hatched most of its occupants. A nearby sign explained all.


The meadow has several shaded places to sit down and rest a bit, some fancier than others. Here’s my favorite top-of-the-meadow resting spot. We’re beneath large old shade trees, looking out at the view.



Here are examples of what we saw on the way downhill to the formal gardens, plus a look back at the museum on the far side of the meadow. Don’t miss that juicy grub in the first photo!

Every time we visit Longwood, I get teary when we reach the meadow. Partly because walking in it with D has been part of my recovery from whatever ailed me over the last several years. I remember when it was just a big piece of land, not open as a garden for visitors. Now, every time we leave I’m grateful for one more opportunity to just be there.

As always, thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoy some healing beauty in your life today, along with the other stuff.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 June 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 12 June 2019, Longwood Gardens Meadow

Late Spring at Longwood 2019 | Photos A

I’ve decided to go with two parts for the rest of our Longwood Gardens photos. The meadow is always a highlight, except when it’s closed in winter. No crowds or lines of spectators. Just the sky above and the earth beneath. However, we can’t get there without walking through other beautiful parts of Longwood.

D took the photo at the top and those just below on our way to the meadow. The trees at the top are along a wooded path to the Italian Water Garden just next to the meadow, and Longwood Lake (below).


Here’s a close-up of the small fountains on the side, in the shade. The gentleman standing there is on the lower path to the pond.


Turning around from the fountains, we’re facing Longwood Lake bordered by a walking path, with lovely lounge chairs on the sloping lawn.

Finally, here’s a water fountain just for thirsty human beings!


Now we’re next to and slightly above the Italian Water Garden, walking through a forested area toward the pond and meadow. You can see a bit of the meadow peeking through undergrowth just in front of me. Next, late-blooming rhododendron, and a shy red Northern Cardinal hiding out in the foliage.



We didn’t see a lot of action at the pond. Too late in the day. I think this turtle wanted us to toss a few crumbs his way (not allowed!). Or maybe he was after that slow-moving number right in front of his nose? I don’t know what the specks are.

Beneath the pond bridge, a small Eastern Wood-Peewee was on the lookout for juicy insects. Very quick and industrious.


Now we’re on the edge of the meadow. It’s early in the afternoon. High sun, wonderful breeze, and low humidity. Don’t  miss the bee!


That’s all for now, folks! More meadow photos in the second part, plus a few beauties from the rest of our visit.

Til later,
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 June 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 12 June 2019, Longwood Gardens

The ‘one day’ plan

Rain comes and goes
Cold seeps into pores
Weariness descends in clouds
Of gray humid air

I wait for sunrays
To emerge even briefly
through tiny windows of escape
Reminders that beauty
Lives and loves life
Fiercely if not forever

The poem reflects what I saw from my kitchen window this morning. Rain followed by teases of sun. Back and forth through the entire morning.

The weather reminds me of my life right now. Dreary one moment, brilliant the next! Sometimes changing without rhyme or reason. Always happy to see the sun come out.

D’s photo at the top caught clouds dissipating into wispy, beautiful formations. Almost like giant feathers in the sky, blown along by a breezes high in the atmosphere. Slowly I’m learning to relax into not knowing how each day will unfold, and into letting go of half the stuff I think I can do in any given day.

Last week I met an intriguing young man in the Longwood Conservatory. Joe was sitting beside me, in a wheelchair. He told me he’s on the ‘one day’ plan due to a genetic disorder that isn’t going away. We talked awhile before his friends took him to see more beautiful plants and flowers.

Joe was one of those sunrays that managed to emerge through the clouds, intent on loving beauty and life fiercely. One day at a time.

Happy Friday to each of you!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 June 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, Longwood Gardens Meadow, 12 June 2019

Longwood Beauties, June 2019 | Photos


I’m glad I’m not a debutante flower! It was definitely bee-courting season at Longwood. Not many butterflies yet, but more than enough buzzing bees and spectacular, multi-faceted even bizarre frocks on display. The bee above is coming in for a landing on a dahlia.

Herewith my prizes for the most unusual and beautiful look-at-me displays. Each is trying to outdo others in its class. The first two are in the outdoor desert garden area. Gorgeous colors and spikey warnings to stay away — unless you’re a bee. The third photo is a beautiful pot of succulents in waiting–not yet in bloom.

Moving on to the flower walk, here are a few more dahlias plus one bee that wanted to have its picture taken. The dark dahlia leaves were spectacular–a fitting backdrop for brilliant colors. Even the unopened flower bud in the second photo is gorgeous.


Mixed in with everything were flowering plants and grasses I didn’t recognize. I’d put them in the old-fashioned category–not the kinds of plants I see regularly in plant shops or grocery store displays.


The most abundant flowers in bloom were zinnias. Not the kind we used to grow in our yard when I was a child. The stakes and twine help them keep their heads held high.




I’ll do a later post on the meadow–alive with birds, bees and mid-June beauty.

Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Monday!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 June 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens, 12 June 2019

Have we lost our way?

From the corner of my eye
They sailed by just outside
My kitchen window
Brilliant gold bodies rising
And dipping together
Through damp morning air
And today’s rain shower

Yesterday’s sunshine
Brilliant with gold petals
And fine feathers hovered
Gracefully in warm spring air
Drinking in the wonder
Of juicy insects and
The good earth’s bounty

Outside my window I hear
The soft chirp of birds
In earnest conversation
About nothing and everything
In general that birds love
To talk about behind our
Backs and without our consent

Is there salvation in nature?
Are we the only wise ones
Left on the face of the planet?
Or, heaven forbid, have we
Lost our way home to the
Meadows and ponds and
Buzzing of bees and insects?

Yesterday we took advantage of warm sunshine and breezes, and visited Longwood Gardens. This time we focused our energy on the Meadow, walking almost the complete perimeter. D took tons of photos, and I’ll have a photo post later.

In the meantime, I’m pondering how to take more dirt walks, as recommended by John Muir!

Happy Thursday! I’m glad to be back at it. Our granddaughters’ commencement and other wonderful activities here at home have just about sated me for social life. I miss regular writing and posting…..

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 June 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens Meadow, 12 June 2019

 

Bittersweet

A passage from one of Mary Oliver’s poems came to mind Wednesday evening as I wrote in my journal. On Tuesday we heard our two granddaughters speak to gathered friends and family for half an hour each. They talked about their lives, their dreams, and their experiences in school and on trips here and abroad. Each is sensitive, observant, articulate, and determined to follow her dreams.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal. The passage from Mary Oliver’s poem follows.

It’s all so bittersweet – watching our children and grandchildren grow up – time taken from my life as their lives expand outward – and mine exhales, drawing energy inward – already dying. Maybe becoming elderly is about becoming expendable – moving over or moving on to make room for the next generations.

Mary Oliver says it well – most of our ‘lives’ we’re not even here – the great before and the ageless after of a flash in the darkness.

Tonight I’m weary, and my heart is letting me know it’s running out of steam. Yes, it’s late in the day. It’s also late in my life. Teach me to number my days. To love life, and relinquish what I can no longer carry.

I wonder how my highly sensitive self is figuring into my health as I age? I feel more reflective, and content to do nothing in particular except feel my feelings and rest my body and mind.

It was difficult to watch one granddaughter’s highly sensitive self yesterday as she spoke. I wanted to hug her and tell her how wonderful it is to have this awkward gift.

Here are the closing stanzas from Mary Oliver’s poem, “Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine.” She’s urging us to pause and Look! Our time on this earth is short. Pay attention Now! to the hummingbird, the roses, the lilies floating in the black ponds….

Look! for most of the world
is waiting
or remembering—
most of the world is time

when we’re not here,
not born yet, or died—
a slow fire
under the earth with all

our dumb wild blind cousins
who also
can’t even remember anymore
their own happiness—

Look! and then we will be
like the pale cool
stones, that last almost
forever.

© Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. One, pp 56-57
Published by Beacon Press (1992)

Tomorrow is commencement day. I’m getting ready by chilling out, breathing deeply, and taking in this beautiful weather before it disappears.

Happy Friday, and thanks for visiting!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 June 2019
Photo found at georgiawildlife.com

Small gifts of grace

On my way to the garage
A small thin cup-like piece
Of bird shell cracked and broken
Rests on our driveway
Beneath the holly tree
Where resident catbirds set up
temporary nesting quarters

Hours later and bone weary
I turn off the engine and hear
The unmistakable notes of a
Lullaby sweet and calming
Borrowed tunes full of grace
Soft and gentle from a catbird
Keeping watch from a nearby tree

I want to be a catbird when I grow up
Simple beauty singing made-up songs
Of quiet sometimes raucous joy
For everyone and no one in particular
Offering small benedictions to
Broken hearts and weary travelers
On their way from here to there

God bless us every one on this weekend of Sabbath rest and remembrance.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 May 2019
Photo of a SE Pennsylvania Catbird found at reddit.com

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