Tuesday, June 30, 2020

What's Blooming Today

" Almost any garden, if you see it at just
the right moment, can be confused with paradise. "

The morning is fresh and drenched in bird chatter, and the single hansa rose on my desk fills my study with that deep satisfying rose scent. Sure wish I could share it with you. I went to sleep last night when the deep northwest sky along the horizon boasted wide ribbons of apricot and peach. I wake up and it is still there. Has it been all night while I slumbered? I do love how these long summer days wrap themselves around the night sky. Visiting the North in summer is on my bucket list. Not this summer but one day.  

We take our moments in the sun when we can these days. Thankfully there are a few of them. I deadheaded pansies, geraniums, dahlias and roses when everything was still dripping from the last downpour. The promise of sunshine for today has been revoked, and we are in for more showers. I might hum that old English nursery rhyme....

Rain rain go away
Come again another day   

Peace Rose Perfection

" What's in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet. "

Darling Buds of Mock Orange

" Everything that slows us down and forces patience,
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature,
is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. "

Ivory Silk Lilac in Bridal Bloom

"Every garden-maker should be an artist along (her) own lines.
That is the only possible way to create a garden."

Mock Orange Against Summer Sky

"Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint,
and the soil and sky as canvas.

Delphinium Blue

" Perhaps, after all, our best thoughts come when we are alone.
It is good to listen, not to voices but to the wind blowing,
to the brook running cool over polished stones, to bees drowsy
with the weight of pollen. If we attend to the music
of the earth, we reach serenity. And then, in some
unexplained way, we share it with others.

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Heart Hugs,

© Images by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Friday, June 26, 2020

Refreshment In A Patch of Nature

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

" Nature is the art of God. "

English author Jane Austen once said that 'to sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon the verdant green hills is the most perfect refreshment.' Oh yes, I totally agree and understand her sentiment, for we saw fields just like the ones above when we visited England a few summers ago. A person is drawn to its tranquility. When I sit in our backyard surrounded by all the green of grass and tree and plant, I feel the same quietude; something settles deep on the inside and breathes out a great sigh of contentment - now this is life as it ought to be. For in that moment everything is right in the world, and the soul is at rest.

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"How beautiful peonies are. That long border
of them—so proud and yet so beautifully fragile."

Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to sit in my own little bit of nature in the front garden. I took along my mystery novel Nemesis by Agatha Christie, but with the sun warm on my arms and the wind little more than a gentle zephyr in the trees, I believe I nodded off, just like dear Miss Marple, as she rested in some lovely old garden during her Famous House and Garden tour. 

Gentle noises in the neighbourhood made my head pop up. Young fellows were heading out for a bike ride, some folks were out in their yard, and one willowy teen, who appeared to be conscripted to edge the lawn, was halfhearted in her attempt. In no great hurry, every once in a while she'd drop her edging tool and whip out her smartphone for a quick scroll. Deeply relaxed in my rattan chair, I smiled; I could certainly relate to her lack of deep interest for any great effort on such a languid afternoon. I notice the peonies are opening—a snap of colour amongst the green. And my, how graceful and elegant are those tall grasses as they sway in the breeze, bending forwards and backwards. I cannot decide if they are ballerinas or aerobic instructors; either way they are mesmerizing to watch.

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

" In all things of nature there is
something of the marvelous. "

In recent weeks, I have experienced a whole new appreciation for nature as I watched winter fade into spring into summer. And, with our lives lived so close to home, I seem to be much more in tune with what is going on in my own yard and garden. Paying closer attention to the unfolding of new blossoms on the Ivory silk lilac or buds forming on the delphiniums. And what a jolt of joy to catch a small bumblebee buzzing early in the morning in something purple. It has been good for my soul. A real godsend in these upside down times.

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Lately, I have also been thinking about those words found in Psalm 23: 'The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want; He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul...'. When my soul needs tending, these refreshing words are one of my go-to places. To me, it gives such a wonderful picture - the Shepherd leading a weary soul to a place of peace and beauty. For he knows just how restorative a patch of earth and a bit of water can be to our well being. We instinctively gravitate to the restfulness of green grass, a meadow or pasture where wildflowers grow. Who hasn't laid on the grass as a child, either face down staring at a blade where maybe an ant crawls up, or gazing up at a summer sky, searching for horses and poodles in the puffy clouds.

Image by Janyka Mitchell from Pixabay

"When life overwhelms us with all its demands
and problems, we can find moments of tranquility
and happiness by looking at nature. A beautiful landscape can
invigorate our souls and restore our energies, making us
realize that happiness lies in simple pleasures."

Not everyone is able to sit in a garden or beside a quiet stream, or lay down in a field of wild flowers, but it is possible to create a sense of it in some small way. Finding our own bit of nature—even a pot of herbs on a balcony or a single blossom in a vase, a landscape painting on our wall—can give us a space where our eyes can alight, where our thoughts can rest a moment. Nature surely goes a long way in this restoring process, and for those of us who follow Him, we know it is the Shepherd of our souls who adds the touch of the divine that ultimately restores our souls to wholeness. 

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful weekend.
May your days be verdant and restful.

Heart Hugs,

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Summer At Last

" All gardening is landscape painting. "

It's a beautiful morning and I should work in the garden today.  Two days not in the garden and things need tending again. But first a post. And laundry. And lunch on the deck. And someone mentioned a pear cider in the afternoon. Okay, maybe we'll garden in earnest tomorrow.

Yesterday morning was so beautiful when we woke that we decided to take a Monday holiday. Instead of working in the yard (which is what many of us are busy with this time of year), we spent it sitting on our back deck, looking at the trees and plants, watching the birds, reading, sipping mojitos, eating our meals al fresco. The skies were blue, blue, with wispy clouds way up. It seemed, as we listened to the bees in the lavender, that we'd been waiting all year for this day. Well, not yesterday in particular, although my brother would disagree as it was his birthday, but this first perfect day of summer, when all the forces of nature are in sweet harmony. Summer arrived right on time, and we are sitting in the midst of it, letting its warm silkiness wash over our body and soul. Perfection of a day!

I finished my library book, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I loved it. The book is "...at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder."

Because Delia Owens is also a wildlife scientist and an award winning author of the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing, she mixes her wealth of knowledge of the natural world with her imaginative first novel and creates a beautifully written story. When I was about two thirds in, I came across a sentence I had such longing to underline that I almost did, even though it was a library book. So rather than do that, I'm reciting it here: 

"Look at this one."

Before him was an astonishingly colorful oil of two children squatting in swirls of green grass and wildflowers. The girl was only a toddler, perhaps three years old, her straight black hair falling over her shoulders. The boy, a bit older, with golden curls, pointed to a monarch butterfly, its black-and-yellow wings spread across a daisy. His hand was on the girl's arm.

"I think that's Tate Walker," Jodie said. "And you."

"I think you're right. It looks like him. Why would Ma paint Tate?"

"He used to come around quite a bit, fish with me. He was always showing you insects and stuff."

"Why don't I remember that?"

"You were very young. One afternoon Tate boated into our lagoon, where Pa was pulling on his poke, really drunk. You were wading and Pa was supposed to be watching you. Suddenly, for no reason at all, Pa grabbed you by your arms and shook you so hard...dropped you in the mud and started laughing. Tate jumped out of the boat and ran up to you. He was only seven or eight years old, but he shouted at Pa...By this time we'd all run down to see what was happening. Even with Pa ranting and raving, Tate picked you up and handed you to Ma. He made sure you were all right before he left...

She looked at the painting—so pastel, so peaceful. Somehow Ma's mind had pulled beauty from lunacy. Anyone looking at these portraits would think they portrayed the happiest of families, living on a seashore, playing in the sunshine."

"Somehow Ma's mind had pulled beauty from lunacy." Right there, for me, was the line for which I had been drawn to read the book. And that's the question many of us have, even if we don't know we are asking it. We want to know how, and we all must find our own way, to pull beauty from the lunacy of whatever horrid thing goes on in our lives, or the world at large. It's food for thought.

I love cucumber salads, especially in summer. Sometimes we make it with a sour cream dressing with lots of dill. And sometimes we like a vinaigrette. I don't have cucumbers in the garden, but we have fresh dill and cilantro growing in pots on the deck, so I made this simple salad the other evening. I used white balsamic in the vinaigrette - it was yum!

Cucumber and Onion Salad 

1-2 cucumbers, peeled, thinly sliced
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 small tomato, chopped (or use grape tomatoes)
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 stick of celery, sliced
sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
sprigs of fresh cilantro, chopped 


1/3 cup vinegar (white, white balsamic, rice, or cider)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sugar
salt & pepper

Mix ingredients until sugar dissolves.
Pour over cut vegetables.
Leave at room temperature or refrigerate 1 - 2 hours.

This early morning I found a big bumblebee humming and having a wonderful roll around in this newly opened rose from the Hansa bush. Alas, I didn't have my camera with me, and by the time I came back with it, the fellow had moved on to another spot.

" The hum of bees is the voice of the garden. "

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day.
Heart Hugs,

© Photo credits: Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life