Nature Speaks

What is the answer to all the evening stars in their places, shining bright. Who keeps them there?

And the flowers, does anyone tell them there’s a quarantine on, and they’re not supposed to burst forth from their places?

The cats don’t care, neither do the dogs.

The ivy continues to crawl up the fence. The rosemary and lavender give out their fragrance. The climbing roses and the fruit trees grow and shine their glory.

Here’s a recipe for contentment. To do what you’re made for, in good times and bad times.  Both give equal opportunities to stand out and be beautiful.

Calvin says, “Now I know you’ve lost it. You need some people time.”

 

 

 

Shared Greenery

“It’s time to cut the lawn,” our neighbor told us today. We agreed it was looking a bit furry, but we thought it gave the front of the house some character. Plus it looked like we do, two months without a haircut.

“Let’s wait til May,” Alf said.

“By then you’ll need to hack your way to the front door,” he said.

“Come on, it won’t be that bad,” Alf said.

“Yes it will, it’s all the watering you do every morning that’s causing the jungle to spring up.”

Truth is our neighbor keeps his lawn as short as a barber’s haircut and ours was irritating him.

So after a lot of back and forth, Alf allowed the mower to come across our driveway and into the front lawn.

Our neighbor did a fine job of hair cutting. The equipment made all the right rumbling noies and the blower whined throughout the neighborhood. It was done in less than fifteen minutes.

He was satisfied with the results and took his mower back to his house, went inside and we won’t see him for another month.

We guess this is his way of coping with the lockdown. Every leaf has to be a certain height and no higher. He turns on a fountain every day with a yellow rubber ducky bobbing on the surface. The basket of flowers at his front door are artificial and look grey around the edges. Everything else is real, including a rhododendron tree that explodes with purple flowers every spring.

Three fig trees line up tall between his property and ours. He doesn’t like figs so we get the harvest. I love them. We in turn give him oranges and lemons from our trees. A polite exchange.

Calvin says, “How can he not like figs? I like figs, and that’s crazy because beagles hate fruit.”

Under the Roof

My orange tree is almost white with blossoms. It looks like snow. The fragrance is intoxicating, especially at sunset and sunrise. I put myself in a chair under the tree today to take in the spectacle under the branches. The bees were humming and doing a happy dance in and out of the flowers. The hummingbirds flitted from branch to branch. As I looked up I could see touches of blue sky in between the leaves. Suddenly I heard rustling and the tree began to shake, blossoms came down like rain, and then the thump of oranges around me. I couldn’t see them, but it was those pesky squirrels again, racing in and out of the branches, almost laughing.

Our house is under the flight path to three airports. It’s normal to see planes come in for a landing every five minutes. From big wide-bodies to smaller commute aircraft, it’s my thrill to see these planes arrive. They are so low I can make out the airline. Even see the pilot wave at me. Today, because of the lock-down, there was only one or two that came in. Probably with six flight attendants pampering one passenger with first-class treatment. Now is the time to fly if you can get past security.

Occasionally I will see gulls fly overhead. When that happens I know it’s going to rain. That’s when I stand outside and wait for the big drops to hit.

Calvin says, “And I dash inside. I hate a bath.”

Coexistence

The orange tree in our backyard is bursting with blossoms. As I walk by it, I hear the happy sounds of our humming bees wiggle in and out of the blossoms. The tree is alive with activity and noise. What surprises me are the hummingbirds. They too are flitting in and out of the blossoms, drinking in their elixir. They are intoxicated. They stop frequently to rest, look around, chirp with the others, and then resume their feeding. They don’t seem to skirt the bees. Nor are they cautious around them. Both bees and hummers co-exist in one tree.

Now the squirrels are another story. Those nasty critters are pulling off our oranges, taking a big bite out of them, and throwing the rest of the fruit on the ground. I notice they don’t touch the lemons or the grapefruit. They like sweet. They have good taste, but in an indulgent and thoughtless way.

Yesterday morning I noticed a tight bud on a geranium bush, and by late afternoon it had flowered. Had I know it would happen this fast, I would have pulled up a chair to watch it, like a time-lapse video.

I’m waiting for the blue jays to pop in anytime soon. They are nuisances. They wait on the roof top for bee activity and then swoop in and grab one in their beaks and swallow it whole. I wonder if the bee, in its last moments of life, stings the bird’s gullet all the way down to its stomach.

Calvin says, “Beware of those bees. I’ve had a few land on my nose and it’s terrifying. I shake them off and then run inside the house and howl.”

 

(Un)Expected Gifts

There are three Indian families that live across the street from us. They have elementary school age children. At night they come out of their houses and talk with loud voices. It sounds like a party with everyone speaking at once. A friend of mine who visited India for the first time said, “It’s so noisy here, day and night, I can’t think.” The funny thing is they don’t talk to each other. It’s as if invisible walls were wrapped around each house with a no trespass sign. I don’t know why because they don’t talk to me either. It’s a shame because one of them has a prolific tangerine tree in their backyard and I’d like some.

On the other hand, my neighbors to the right have been friends for  years. They have fig trees. Anybody with a fig tree is my best friend for life. As a child, my grandparent’s fig trees were my daily treat. At nap time, I’d climb out the bedroom window with a chair and gobble figs until I couldn’t breathe. My neighbors give me their crop in exchange for my lemons and oranges. To the left of me, there’s not even a hello from the front door. It’s just as well. She has no fruit trees. Two doors down a Portuguese family lives with Sunshine, the American short-hair cat, Nigel, the chihuahua, nameless chickens, and a persimmon tree that is so beautiful it takes my breath away. Every year we receive a box full of those beauties at our doorstep. Across the street from them is a family with teenagers and their revved-up cars that go zoom at midnight, sending me to the ceiling and back. In the front of their house they have an avocado tree. I’ve been tempted to snag a few as a consolation prize for putting up with their noise.

Calvin says, “Lucky you. Sunshine and Nigel bring me nothing but turds.” 

Why Don’t We Wise Up?

Have you noticed the plethora of products being marketed to make you happy in the new year? Things that organize your life, journaling your mindfulness, grabbing for those goals that have eluded you all your life.

First of all, my life is a mess. No organizational planner, yours or mine, will clean me up. Only supernatural power can do that and the only person who is good at it is God. He proved it at the Red Sea. That’s what it would take to part with my clutter and disasters.minimal

Second, since when is journaling a verb? It’s never been a verb, it’s always been a noun, as in keeping a journal or diary. Diary is the old fashion word, but it’s too close to dairy. Since people don’t read anymore, marketers made the switch and sent consumers into bookstores for theirs instead of dairy farms where the cows live chewing the cud.

Mindfulness. Now there’s a mouthful. To be mindful means to be observant, alert, cognizant. But now it’s been turned on its head and it’s a meditation technique with breathing exercises. Think mindless therapy.

And what makes us think we’ll nail those goals this year when we haven’t succeeded thus far? That’s crazy. Those ads and inspirational books and podcasts are meant to do one thing only – buy the course of course! Knowing full well you’ll fail. Like going to the gym. Two sweaty sessions and you’re out.

So what do we do? Try harder? Flog ourselves? Ignore the mounting evidence of sloth that has overtaken our homes and lives?

Being cognizant of the steep hill we must climb, we make a date to walk the dog, eat more fruits and green things, and enjoy the many times we fall off the wagon. That’s part of the fun.

What? You want perfect?

Calvin says, “I like walking the dog part. Stick with me. I’ll take you places that’ll expand you…I mean shrink you.”  beagle

 

 

 

The Fountain of Youth Is In The Grocery Store

I shopped for food this week, lots of it. Most everything I bought was in a package of some sort – plastic, paper, glass or aluminum. The only area of the store without packaging was in the produce section, but even there, I wasn’t so sure I was getting fresh. Everything looked perfect, shiny, and blemish-free.

There’s a scandal in the news about our genetically modified corn. It seems Russia has refused to import it, citing it’s dangerous to the health of Russians and can cause cancer.

Good for Americans but not so good for foreigners? Hmm. 

This GMO food thing is scary.

Have you bought a tomato lately? It tastes like corrugated paper, but it’s oh so pretty to look at.

How about grapes? They’re getting plumper every year. And not a blemish anywhere.

I bought a bag of shredded cabbage a month ago, threw it into the cold drawer of my refrigerator and forgot it. I discovered it a month later buried under a bag of carrots.

“There’s something fishy about the cabbage,” I told Alf.

“Oh yea, what?”

“It’s bright and perky. If should be rotten by now if it was real.”

“Let’s give it to Calvin and find out,” Alf said.

“If he starts to smolder, we run for cover,” I said.

Calvin says, “I don’t smolder. Fart, that’s another story.”