Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Longwood Gardens

Monday morning photos | Longwood Fall 2019

What would we do without nature’s stunning beauty? Especially now, in the midst of disappointment, betrayals, upheavals, back-stabbings and fury. Here’s a quick Monday-morning peek at the way nature reaches out to us.

Granted, it isn’t always pretty. It is, however, a reminder that whatever I think I am on this speck of dust, I’m not alone or forgotten.

The roses above are in a small rose garden at Longwood. It’s being redesigned, and will make its debut next spring. In the meantime, the gardeners created a mixed company of compatible plants, including roses.

Everything doesn’t always need to be in bright colors. On the way into the Visitor’s Center, we saw several gorgeous examples of fall beauty in browns and grays.

Finally, one last look at the small garden arrangement just outside the Visitor’s Center. An autumn extravaganza of enthusiasm!

The last several weeks have been filled with unexpected challenges. Last week’s visit to Longwood reminded me that we’re not alone, and that autumn has its own gracious and graceful beauty, unlike any other season.

Happy Monday to each of you, whether you’re in the autumn flameout years of your life or not.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 October 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 7 October 2019, Longwood Gardens

Lost soulmates

Keeping up appearances
Grows costly and unrewarding
Except when you smile
With that boyish grin
The one that caught me
Unawares decades ago
Long before we knew
Anything about loving
Or keeping faith or how
Not to parent our children —
When we lost soulmates still
Needed parenting and loving
From the inside out of our
Lonely tentative hearts

The gardens smell winter coming
Chill air reaches out at night
Draining life-giving juice from
Once lush greens and pinks
And purples and magenta —
Crowding close to each other
They lean in for a farewell look
At us taking the flower walk
Sunrays streaming down in
Breezes and fading memories

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 October 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, 7 October 2019 at Longwood Gardens Flower Walk

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

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