Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Longwood Gardens

Lily Ponds and Platters at Longwood 2019 | Photos


Have you ever seen such a pretty dragon fly? The blue in the background isn’t the sky. It’s one of the Longwood lily ponds. Here’s an overview from the far side, looking back at part of the Conservatory. It was about 1pm.


We happened to get there just as one of the gardeners jumped into the water and started pruning back huge platters and long stems beginning to collide with each other. The first pieces are lying there on the sidewalk. On the whole, I’d say he was merciless! Without regular pruning, the platters and long underwater stems will overtake everything. Each of these particular platters can grow nearly a foot a day. Or was it a yard? It was a lot!

As he hacked away, he attracted a small audience, and the pile on the side kept growing. I was surprised to see how spikey these gorgeous platters were on the edges and undersides.


I think the two specimens below are young, unfolding platters. I wouldn’t want to meet up with either of them on a dark night. The largest mature platters can hold up to 100 pounds each, providing you don’t think it’s a trampoline.



I don’t know whether the blossom behind the platter just above is the same as the blossom below. It seems it might be. In any case, it has its own spikey armor. Not what I’d usually associate with lovely, innocent water lilies.

In one of the corner ponds we saw this interesting water plant. It’s often called Nile cabbage because it was first discovered near Lake Victoria in Africa. Though lovely, it’s super invasive and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. On the positive side, it can be used in tropical aquariums to provide hiding places for small fish. It’s also used to control algae blooms. Still, I was glad to see only one of these on display, floating in its special little water tub among the lilies and other water plants.

Who doesn’t love lotus blossoms? There were several large lotus plants in the ponds. Don’t miss the pod in the center of the first blossom. I thought the pod itself was quite regal, as well!

Here are several other favorites. Sometimes the leaves are as spectacular as the blossoms.


And just a few more. That’s papyrus thriving in a shaded corner of the pond garden, just next to the conservatory. I don’t recognize the flowering water plant in the second photo.



Finally, just to prove I was there, here’s a lovely photo of Longwood Hybrid Platters, and of me standing patiently beneath the shade of a potted plant, while D takes as many photos as he would like! Look for blue jeans, a sun shirt, a white sun hat and a back pack.


I can still feel the heat of the sun when I look at these photos. Still, it was a cool weather day compared to what we had for days before, and will have more of this coming week.

Thanks for dropping by!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 July 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 24 July 2019
Lily Pond Garden at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA

A quick update

First, Longwood Gardens photos are in the works. Yesterday D and I played hooky and went to Longwood Gardens. Our way of celebrating the end of a long streak of heat waves, rain and heavy winds. D’s photos are on my computer, and I’m already plotting a photo post. The photo at the top is a little taste!

Second bit of blog-related news. I’ve created a Mary Oliver category. I haven’t discarded or forgotten about Emily Dickinson. I am, however, especially drawn to Mary’s poetry right now, and anticipate more posts about the way they intersect with my life.

Third bit. I’ve just begun going through over 100 posts on Death and Dying. I’ve created the category, and will continue populating it with old and new material. I’m eager to think and write about life with death on the horizon. Not that that’s anything new….

And finally, I’m making peace with myself one day at a time. In general, that means taking things a bit slower than usual, and spending time in the attic each day. It’s a fabulous place to relax, read, write, do nothing at all, or think about the wonderful people who have helped bring me up whether they knew it or not.

Hugs to those who need them, and smiles to everyone whether you want them or not!

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 July 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, 24 July 2019, Longwood Gardens’ Waterlilies

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

Aging Beauty

gnarled, scarred and off-center
rising awkwardly toward heaven
sinking into earth’s riches
the aging wisteria trunk twists and turns

youthful offspring
dance in early spring
carefree and dependent


©Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 June 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 12 June and 6 May 2019
Longwood Gardens

The mind is the last to consent

Or, Semi-poetic thoughts about death and dying

The mind is the last to consent –
Alternative scenarios tease us
Surely this can’t be the end
Wispy threads dangle enticements
We could try this or look into that
Prayers for miracles multiply

Cheerful faces mask sad truth —
The patient is dying, yet anguish
And well-meaning hope sometimes
Impede consent to the obvious
Resulting in further digressions
That produce even more anguish

The end is upon each of us sooner
Not later, with or without goodbyes

To ‘give in’ to death may seem to be
Callous dismissal of those we love
Or loss of hope or lack of faith to
Demand of God great things with
Or without the patient’s consent

Worse, if I’m a medical person perhaps
Giving in means failure to do my job
Even though I may agree that this
Dying person is sick unto death and
We were not created to live forever
In these temporary earth-bound bodies

My hero when it comes to dying is my sister Diane. She chose to go on comfort care after living with ALS for ten years. When she learned she had ALS, she worked with trusted people to identify what she was and was not willing to endure, and where she wanted to die—at home.

Even so, in the end she had to consent to the criteria she herself had itemized. She had to communicate to her doctors and nurses, ‘Enough is enough.’ She also had to trust that those with power of attorney would honor her wishes.

So what does it mean for me to ‘prepare’ for death? At the least, it means living each day well, insofar as I’m able. Especially when it comes to self-care.

I wish that were enough. Unfortunately, given medical structures and practices here in the USA, it isn’t. If I want to avoid getting caught in an endless search for ‘health’ or extension of life, it’s up to me to take the initiative. This includes decisions, paper trails, agreements, and work with family and friends involved with my care and wellbeing.

I can’t do this alone. I’m reading books, and have family and a few friends with whom I can talk. Yet it’s up to me. Even so, there’s no guarantee my wishes and directives will be honored. We don’t always get to choose the time or manner of our deaths.

Blessings to each of you, and thanks so much for listening.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 June 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, Longwood Gardens, 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

Children at Longwood | Photos

On Saturday afternoon D and I helped celebrate family birthdays–four of them, within the space of one week! Our son (his big 50), twin granddaughters (18 years old, seniors in high school), and daughter-in-law (I’m not telling). Only their young son gets his own special day later this fall (15 years old).

All this family stuff got me a bit nostalgic. Hence these Longwood Garden photos taken in late April 2006. As I recall, this was our granddaughters’ first visit to Longwood. These were also the golden years when I was Queen Elouise and carried a sun parasol to mark my exalted status.

Looking at these photos reminds me of the tough work our son and daughter-in-law did to honor their children’s gifts and personalities. It’s never easy.

Yesterday I heard this on the radio: Having children doesn’t make a man a father. The statement clicked with me instantly. To it, I would add this: Being a ‘father’ or ‘mother’ of the church (as in padre, nun, priest, bishop, archbishop, pastor, youth minister) doesn’t confer or guarantee the ability to relate honorably to children or young people.

In the news last week: the Pennsylvania report about child abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic priests and their superiors. All of it covered up by people and a system that took care of its own. Plus, a few days later, reports about the Pope’s visit to Ireland and the legacy with which that nation’s population lives–as do many others.

I only wish it were possible to track similar behavior in Protestant churches here and elsewhere.

All this and more brought back my relationship with my father. He was an ordained Protestant clergyman, sporadically under the loose oversight of a governing body. I have more work to do.

For today, I commend men and women who work hard at parenting and foster-parenting. Especially when they don’t have many models or cheer leaders when things get more than a bit crazy.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 August 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens, April 2006

the old woman + photos

the old woman sits
staring beyond the window
into her future
hovering beneath the sky
dancing in the setting sun

The words came to me this morning while I was sitting at my kitchen table, looking out the window at our back yard. Being with my adult children and their spouses always puts me in a pensive mood–along with the sheer joy of being in their company. Each visit feels a bit more precious than the last.

Our daughter and her husband have been here for several days. So far we’ve had a mix of cold and now very warm, moving toward hot weather later this week. I’m happy to say the attic guest room is a huge hit! On Monday we visited Longwood Gardens for an afternoon of picture-perfect weather. Yesterday we went for a late-afternoon walk along forested trails in Valley Forge Park. I’ll post photos later.

In the meantime, here are three more from our Longwood visit on Monday afternoon. Proof that Spring has arrived for sure.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 May 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, 30 April 2018, Longwood Gardens

I wake, reluctant

Winter HaikuD is a wonderful resource for my fertile imagination. He trolls the internet from time to time looking for things he thinks I’ll enjoy. Or he forwards crazy stuff that shows up on his FB page.

He’s particularly fond of cartoons. So this was irresistible. What could be better? An irreverent haiku with illustration–certain to please me, his Queen!

I filed it away. No way was I going to put this indignity in the face of my refined readers! Of course it’s funny. I laughed ’til tears were streaming down my face.

My deepest apologies if you fail to relate to this post–or, heaven forbid, fail to find it funny.

D and I are off to Longwood Gardens today. The weather forecast says we might have temperatures in the high 70s (Fahrenheit)! A welcome change from late winter/early spring chills of the last months.

Happy Friday the 13th!

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 April 2018
Thanks to DAFraser for finding the cartoon

Consider the Orchids | Photos


Last week D and I took a day off to visit the Orchid show at Longwood. It wasn’t crowded, though the café and restaurant were closed for renovation. Still, it was breezy and bright, with temperatures in the low 50s (Fahrenheit).

The photos below show the entrance–not when we arrived, but just before we left late in the afternoon. The wall of orchid plants was an extension of the gift shop. Orchids for sale! The second photo is a close-up of what we didn’t buy.

Overall, I thought this year’s Orchid show wasn’t as spectacular as last year. I missed the giant ‘orchid tree,’ and didn’t think the main hall of the conservatory did justice to the theme. Nonetheless, D took some beautiful photos. Here are several of my favorites, minus their names.

Near the end of our visit we found empty seats beside the Conservatory stream and had a nice sit-down, and took photos to prove we were there.

Then D played with his camera while I rested my feet. Here are his Monet look-alike studies in water, preceded by a photo  of the waterfall and stream at the far end of the main entrance to the Conservatory.

Looking at all this beauty, even in retrospect, I can’t help thinking about Jesus’ words of encouragement to the crowds of people who brought him their sick and afflicted, hoping to be healed. In addition to healing, they heard these words–the words I can’t help thinking about when I see these photos.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will God not much more clothe you–you of little faith?

Matthew 6:28-30 (NRSV)

No promise that everything will be as we would like it to be. Just the promise that when we seek first the kingdom of God we will have enough. Even more than enough–when we share it instead of hoarding what we do not own and cannot keep alive.

These are troubling days for this planet and all its inhabitants. I’m grateful for the beauty of nature, especially in the middle of a bleak winter.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 March 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser in February 2018 at Longwood Gardens 

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