Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Daybook: Autumn and Pockets of Time

" Autumn is bold bursts of colour that leap from every
corner of the landscape;  . . .  Autumn is a time for textured
treasure; run your fingers through its landscape. "
LOUISE BAKER, Autumn, An anthology for the changing seasons 

We were away from home for only a few days. When we left it was still green and summery, and when we returned Autumn had taken over the neighbourhood. A few trees were brilliant yellow, and a colourful confetti of leaves scattered across lawns and green spaces. Spared frost thus far, the garden continues to bloom. The Rudbeckia (below) brightens the corners where it stands, and Miss Peace Rose pours out her energy into opening the last of her buds. It is sad to see her season come to an end, but I take solace burying my nose in the petals which are more fragrant now than they were in summer.

from the side yard coming round to the front

It's been a while since I wrote a Daybook post—it seems a perfect time to shake out the insides of one's pockets as we wrap up Summer and let Autumn have her way. I do hope you enjoy September's edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook, which is loosely cobbled around the autumn theme and pockets of time, with gallery of photos as the garden now looks.



" Build pockets of stillness into your life. "

Outside my window... As I sit at my desk, a blustery wind blows. The Mountain Ash branches, heavy with clusters of red berries, rhythmically bend and weave, toss and sway—.

I've been thinking... about pockets. Not pockets on a jacket or a pair of jeans, but rather pockets of time and opportunity. It all started a few weeks ago when lovely Facebook friend Sharon mentioned opening her window one early morning to enjoy the air that was still sweet and fresh. It would only be a little while before heat and smoke took over, making it needful for her to firmly close the window again. But Sharon reveled in the moment, however short. Her vignette grabbed my heart that day for I completely understood her aesthetic sensitivity—I aim for the same—where we have learned to grab hold of those pockets of time, no matter how tiny, and savour what we can of its beauty or pleasantness. A grateful heart won't waste the moment, fretting for something more perfect; it just leans in and appreciates what is.

This leads me in a round about way to the next prompt. My mind starts humming a bit of a tune 𝅘𝅥𝅮 along with just a snatch of words: 'la la la la something-something in your poc-ket'. Eventually the braincells break through cobwebs and I have enough words to do a reasonable google search. Does anyone of a certain age remember this old song by Perry Como. 🠛

I've been listening to... Catch A Falling Star which Perry Como recorded in 1957. A catchy tune, I've been humming it ever since I found the lyrics—these are the stanzas I was trying to remember:  

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day . . .

For when your troubles start multiplyin' and they just might
It's easy to forget them without tryin'
With just a pocketful of starlight

I am thankful... for the lovely day I spent with my mom earlier this week. The day had dawned sunny and warm. We shared a simple lunch of sandwiches, a small bag of Lays Classic potato chips, and bread and butter pickles. It was my dad's birthday, he would have turned 92, and together we visited his earthly resting place. We took red roses, his favourite, and then wandered through the quiet rows, sat on a bench in the sunshine, while cows grazed calmly in a field nearby. It was so pleasant and peaceful. We wound up the afternoon stopping at Dairy Queen—Dad would have been keen—for chocolate dipped ice cream cones, a treat neither of us had enjoyed for a long time. We savoured every lick as we sat on the sunny patio. It was one of those days that will shimmer in our memory pockets for a long time. 

Glorious foliage from a tree down the street

A favourite thing I love about Autumn... is the vast contrasts as seen in nature: rows of trees and grassy knolls still green alongside bushes, shrubs, and plants resplendent in brilliant shades of gold, orange, and russet. 

I am wearing... capri pants with a delphinium blue tee-shirt, a spritz of fragrance, and a dab of coral glossy lipstick.

I am remembering... the old Hallmark movie Sarah, Plain and Tall. Sarah Wheaton arrives on the Witting farm for a one-month trial to see if she can make a difference to the widower and his young children. On a trip into town one day, six year old Caleb spies a harmonica in the general store. When Sarah gives it for him, Caleb is thrilled because now he can carry a little music in his pocket.  

I've been watching... the Downton Abbey series off and on these past couple of weeks. I had planned to watch episodes on my own when the weather got cooler, because I didn't think Rick would be interested. But he was—I think he's glad for a break from garden chores—and so together we've been enjoying the series all over again.

I kind of forgot how well written it is, how funny and wise Lady Violet is, and how full and intense the episodes are. I love the theme music. It's easy to get taken up in the lives of the Downton family, including everyone below stairs. I find myself thinking of them and their problems, even when I'm off doing other things—cheering for Anna and Bates, happy when Lady Mary and Matthew finally get together, feeling sorry for poor dear Edith when she was jilted at the altar. Having visited Highclere Castle, I watch the scenes closely to spot things I've seen in person, crowing that I, too, have walked down that same grand staircase. 

Self seeded johnny jump ups

I am reading... Jann Arden's latest book If I Knew Then, Finding Wisdom in Failure and Power in Aging. She's entertaining and thoughtful as she shares her own discoveries about life and living and what really matters. One thing she mentions that caught my eye was the importance of creative endeavour in every stage of life. She happens to use the same phrase we used in our childhood: "making things". Such pleasant hours we spent making things: doll clothes, games, paper cutout dolls from the Eaton's catalogue, beaded necklaces, embroidered pillow slips, knitted ropes on old spools.

Jann says, "Making things is what childhood is all about. Making things is what life is all about. Making things for yourself is the most glorious d*mn thing on the planet." Oh yes! So I ask the question, what things are you making these days? The other day I made a peach galette (using Jacques Pepin's apple tart recipe), which was dee-licious, and I am making photo books to be given as gifts.

I am learning... that it's good to enjoy a moment, a scene, without feeling the need to always take a picture of it. Before our digital world took over, we lived our lives pretty much without taking photos at every turn. We stored our favourite memories in our mental pockets and only took photos on special occasions, like birthdays or Christmas or weddings. But, of course, it's so easy now with our digital cameras, and I do love that I can share daily life moments so easily on social media.

But, at the same time, after reading a story about a fellow who spent his whole river cruise holiday behind the lens of his video camera filming it, something about that made me stop short. Did he really experience the sights and sounds and flavours of his whole holiday through the tiny eye of his camera? Maybe I'll just relearn to once again be present in the present, live life's moments without always needing to set up for another photo shoot. At least some of the time.  

In the garden... Some things are blooming like there is no tomorrow. Perhaps they know their time is short and are not wasting a moment. Here is a little tour of what it looks like these days:

One morning we came out to find this pretty hand-painted rock
nestled amongst the flowers. We don't know who left it there, or who
the painter is, but we have so enjoyed this person's special gift to us.

 This rose bush (the name slips my mind) struggled all summer, but
now she's blooming full gusto. Love her wedding pink petals.

When the peonies die back, the pink sedum begins to
take their place in the garden. They bloom till freeze-up.

Sharing a link...that my friend Sharon passed along to me The Cottage Fairy. These short videos are created by Paola, a young artist who lives with her dog and bunny in the quiet countryside of Washington State. She presents vignettes from her own gentle, creative life and posts them on YouTube. Usually around eight to ten minutes in length, the videos lend a restful, mindful ambiance—-they are well worth visiting!

 A quote on my mind...

" There are pockets of time, she thinks,
where every sense rings like a bell,
where the world brims with fleeting grace. "
DOMINIC SMITH, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

With such a quote within, I really must search out this book by Dominic Smith. I haven't read it, have you? Is the book as lovely as this quote? Standing in my garden or when I'm out for my walks, that's how I often feel. My senses ring like a bell as I take time to smell, touch, hear, see. And, I feel my world brimming with that fleeting grace that makes me glad to be alive. Pockets of time and opportunity, that's what we have, isn't it, as we live day by day.  

The scent from the sweet pea posy fills the whole house

Closing thought... take a moment to read aloud to yourself. Something you are reading right now. Or, maybe a line or two from this post that speaks to you. Feel the rhythm, listen to the cadence, roll the words over your tongue. Hold it a moment, maybe put it in your memory pocket to savour later...

Perhaps in much the way British poet William Wordsworth once mused about the dancing daffodils he imagined as he lie on his couch of reverie. I understand he wrote his unforgettable poem some years after seeing that great host of yellow. Which means he carried the vision all that time in his memory, and one day he brought it out and found it as thrilling as ever. If we truly live in our own daffodil moments, the memory of them will return one day to us, and give us pick me up moments, just when we need them. In our upside down world that's filled with suffering and turmoil, I think we need them more than ever.

There, I've emptied my pockets of what I've been thinking about these days. I hope you found something, amongst the lint, that you can take away.

* * *

Wishing you plummy days filled with autumn's beauty
and big pockets to hold their sweet memories.


All Images in this post are mine

Friday, September 03, 2021

September's Fresh Start

"Ah, September! You are the doorway to
the season that awakens my soul..."

Right on cue with the turning of the calendar page, the weather changed. The pleasant days of warm sunshine and blue skies turned cool with stirring winds, overcast heavens, and rain. And with it, all thoughts of BBQing and being outdoors fled. Instead we searched for recipes that would warm and comfort...and wrapped our fingers around steaming mugs of coffee or tea. This morning, however, dawned bright with sunshine and the blue skies returned. I thought of the ancient sacred text: 'This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it'. Some days when all sorts of pressures bear down, a person has to work harder to be glad for a new day, but this morning brought with it a gift where the joy bubbled easily and without effort. There is something consoling about those kinds of days when the livin' is easier.

I know it's not autumn in many places yet, but it has the feel of it around here. The light slants differently, and the air feels and smells differently too. As one who is eager for Autumn because it's my favourite season, I appreciate the quote by Peggy Horton (above). Perhaps you feel it too—that September is the doorway to the season that awakens your own soul. The hint of cooler mornings and leaves turning golden ignites a frisson of excitement within me—it's undoubtedly rooted in childhood memories of the start of a new school year.  

As a girl, I enjoyed heading off to school in my new clothes, armed with sharpened HB pencils, pristine Hilroy exercise scribblers, and a box filled with Laurentien pencil crayons, Peacock Blue and Hollywood Cerise being among my favourite colours. Sometimes I clutched a bouquet of dahlias to give to my new teacher. Although a little nervous those first days, I still vividly recall the thrill I'd feel when I learned which desk, among the neat rows, would be mine. Not to forget the shivery anticipation as the new readers were handed out and the blackboard stood at the ready for writing out spelling words (I loved spelling). There would also be the secret hope that maybe this new year my exercise scribblers would remain tidier and less dog-eared. Maybe it would be the year, too, when math wasn't so scary, and the boy I secretly liked would hand me the large Valentine's card come February.

" To feel creative, I need plenty of white space,
coffee, and good light. "

It's been decades since I headed off to school on a September morning, but my inner clock still tunes itself to it being the proper time to begin a new year. I celebrate the month by shopping for new notebooks and pens and calendars, and I round up those scattered routines and schedules that had been thrown to the wind in July. I once again begin to muse and dream, thinking about my 'new term' of creative work, feeling the exhilarating tug of renewed motivation, energy, and hopefulness.

" September ! I never tire of turning it over and over in my mind.
It has warmth, depth, and colour. It glows like warm amber. "

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful September.


 Top image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
Bottom image by drromie of pixabay

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Weekend: A Garden Outing

" There is simply the rose; it is perfect
in every moment of its existence. "

It's cool and overcast, and it feels a bit autumn-y this Sunday afternoon. Thankfully we did not postpone a visit yesterday to a nearby city's botanic garden, St. Albert Botanic Park, where we wandered under warm and sunny blue skies. First of all, I cannot believe that we have not been to see this gem before. It appeared in a list when I did a google search for gardens here in our own province. Secondly, I was startled at how vivid and colourful the dahlias, roses, and cottage gardens are blooming even after our hot summer. Beautifully maintained, and obviously loved by its team of volunteers, this really is a place I shall want to visit again and again. Thankfully it's not too far away from where we live.

I'm sharing quite a few pictures on today's post, so whether you meander slowly or pass through quickly, I hope you enjoy this colourful feast for the soul.

We came home buoyed and felt we ought to celebrate with something nice for afternoon tea. There was no café there, and we're still a bit leery about hanging around in crowds, so upon our return home, while Rick quickly gave our lawns a hair-cut, I pulled out Jacques Pepin's simple recipe for French Apple Tart. Jacques says it's one of his family's staples, and it's quickly becoming ours as well.

While we finish up the apple tart for tea this afternoon (I'd share if I could), I hope you enjoy the photo tour... the pics in this post are from the garden we visited.

" Gardens will be the peaceful haven we all need. "

" All dahlias are beautiful in their own way! I love them
because they have the most perfect symmetry and
come in a rainbow of color options. "

Did I hear him whisper that I was his Prairie Rose? It might have
been in my imagination or the wind whispering in the leaves.

" Roses do not bloom hurriedly; for beauty,
like any masterpiece, takes time to blossom. "

Preparations were underway for a wedding in the Rose Garden
on this beautiful summery afternoon. It cannot get anymore romantic
than that, don't you think?

" The magic of hydrangeas - nature's litmus papers! "

" When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy,
there is always the garden. "

" The man (or woman!) who has planted a garden feels
he has done something for the good of the whole world. "
from My Summer in a Garden

The many volunteers who maintain this garden certainly have outdone
themselves. I believe the words above say it for these folks—they have
truly created something lovely for the good of their city's citizens.
If you are interested in more info about the St. Albert Botanic Park,
you can click HERE.

Although it was all beautiful, I think the Cottage Garden was
my favourite spot. Give me a bench at the end of a
winding path, and I'll sit and 'just be' for a little while.

" Everyone needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength
to body and soul alike. "

* * *

We've been out enjoying our summer days, so that's why I have not been around here much.
Wishing you a beautiful week ahead.