When I was growing up, the expressions “Slow down” and “Take time to smell the roses”, were often heard. Too impatient for most things to materialize and hungry for life to happen, I had little interest doing either of those things.
Now, much later in life, as I sit watching the sun slip down in the late afternoon sky, I see its cache of shimmering diamonds spilling onto the water’s surface. I am entranced by moments that I never want to end. At this time of year I know I have at least another couple of hours to watch this kaleidoscope of color turning slowly with the passing minutes. The color palette is different each day and I let it touch every sense. The Gardenia bushes are flush with fragrant white blossoms and woodpeckers are drilling the side of a palm tree. The warmth of the sun is relaxing aching shoulders as a Mockingbird atop the chimney stack begins his late afternoon serenade.
Ah, beautiful Cherry blossoms, the harbinger of Springtime. On dreary, dark days the sight of an avenue with Cherry trees in full bloom can elevate a mood of despondency to that of being in a fairy tale. Walking down the street under boughs of pretty pink blossoms, feeling like a princess, is an almost magical state of being.
Some unseasonably warm weather in Washington DC has meant that today the trees are in peak bloom (osozakura). The sight is spectacular and normally drives many tourists there to view the trees when they are at their most photographic.
This is the time when they would be visiting in full force but the pandemic has put a stop to that. The National Park service has urged visitors not to come, and instead is encouraging the public to enjoy the puffy blossoms virtually using the Trust for the National Mall’s online BloomCam. Innovative, yes, but not quite the same, is it?
I was born in London at home and delivered by midwives instead of the hospital. It was quite common at that time. We lived in the downstairs half of a house with an elderly neighbor occupying the upstairs. Her name was Mrs. Philpott and my mother would always refer to her as such because everything was more formal in those days. My earliest memories are of my older brother and sister setting up a tent in the back garden and we would camp out. It was like having my own little house. I loved it!
Sometimes they would take me on the bus to a park and we would walk to the river carrying our fishing nets and jam jars on a rope to catch tadpoles. Once when I was four, I fell backwards in the river and had to ride home on the bus wearing nothing but my Mackintosh. My brother had to carry my wet clothes in his hands. My mum was upset but let us put the tadpoles and spawn in a big tub and we would watch them every day to see them grow legs 2 at a time until they became tiny black frogs.
We moved from that house when I was six to somewhere bigger and brand new but there was no back garden to speak of and the river was further away.
I was walking my dogs early one morning last fall and saw a bird flying above. I knew immediately by the immense span of black/brown wings and striking white head that it was a bald eagle.
To my surprise he landed on a tree just in front of us on one of the lower branches. We stopped in our tracks and the dogs quietly sat down and none of us moved a muscle.
The majestic eagle stayed in place for at least two minutes while I watched in awe. I was so excited I wanted to get a photo and of course all I had was an iPhone with two large Labs on leashes, but I managed to get a least one picture, even though it’s a little grainy. (see below). These moments are like little gifts from Nature.
It’s been 20 years since that cold wintery day I had to let go of my Thoroughbred, Magnum. He had been my friend, my team mate and my confidant for many years but sadly he had developed severe laminitis. A condition which made it difficult for him to walk, resulting in a life-ending decision.
It was truly heartbreaking to have my vet come and euthanize my horse and I will always be grateful for his kindness and thoughtfulness in making arrangements to have the body removed while I was at work. I think seeing it would have been too painful to watch.
Later in the day I returned to the stables to remove my tack and belongings. I walked into Magnum’s stall one more time and looked out into the pasture. Sitting just outside his stall was a cat as white as pure snow. I had never seen it before and it just sat there and looked at me for a long time. It held my gaze for what seemed like an age and then it just ran away. I remember reading somewhere that white animals appear as spirit guides after a death. Perhaps it was helping him on his way.
Kim is hosting Monday Haibun at D’Verse Poets and has prompted us as follows:
This week, I would like you to write about a time when you last watched stars, a storm, the sea, an animal, or something else in nature that left you with a sense of wonder or awe. Aim to write no more than three tight paragraphs, followed by a traditional haiku that includes reference to a season.
In late September we are still in daylight savings time but since the equinox, the earlier darkness has switched up the night sky. Now the moon is brightly lit shortly after sunset but is still hung so low you could almost reach up to touch it.
The sun too has moved its place of descent and paints the evening elsewhere on the canvas in its in brilliant pink and golden hues.
Nature is slowly nudging us towards the seasonal changes and many go willingly forwards, accepting and thankful. Whereas I mourn long summer days where I could could live forever.
Just a few weeks ago it was the 35th anniversary of my living in the US. I came from England, with my first husband and our baby son, to settle in Virginia where he was to begin a new job.
We knew a lot of the States fairly well having visited numerous times however leaving everything behind and starting again in a new country was still daunting.
George Bernard Shaw said the United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language. There was never a truer statement! I still remember the quizzical looks I would get when I asked someone for help or directions. It was as if I was speaking with a foreign tongue. I learned quickly to ask in a certain way and use words that were familiar to the listener. Strange but true. It still happens from time to time but these days I just laugh at myself for forgetting.
From across the pond to land of milk and honey Beginning anew
Kim, from Writing in North Norfolk is hosting Haibun Monday at D'Verse Poets tonight ad has prompted us with A Snapshot of Our Lives. To look back at a previously written poem or prose and create a Haibun around it. I chose a poem I wrote called Destination Unknown
I remember writing the D’Verse Haibun a year ago and sharing that January had always been a sad time for me. Each year I was consumed with melancholy and regarded it as a black month.
Little did I now then that 2019 would be one of the worst years of my life. In January within days of writing that Haibun, an MRI on my husband’s brain showed two tumors and he was scheduled for immediate surgery. Thankfully they were removed successfully and not cancerous, but the healing process is long, life changing and precarious. In addition to other existing health issues and the sudden appearance of new ones, we have been on a mind-altering, life changing journey to hell and back.
One year later we are in a better place but still struggling with the process. I am determined to make January a month of new beginnings, change and hope. If you choose to turn off the light, then you will live in the darkness.
Life will always change Accept it, embrace it and Never let it go
Today, for Haibun Monday, Frank Tassone at D’Verse Poets, has prompted us with ‘Memorial’ as today is Memorial Day in the US.
When I think of the armed services, the memory it invokes for me is a visit to France many years ago. My mother’s first husband was killed in the D Day invasion in Word War II and was laid to rest in Bayeux, Normandy. We went with little information other than his name and regiment but thanks to the kindness of the French we found the cemetery and his grave easily.
I will never forget the miles and miles of crosses and markers throughout the French countryside, and how many had laid down their lives or us all.
Wreaths of red poppies In honor of those who died Lest we forget them