Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Thoughts on a Rainy Day

Rain is almost always a blessing in the plains. We rarely have daily rains and flooding, usually the opposite with day after day, week after week of hot dry weather. By July and August, every living thing droops with the stresses of such weather. Any time rain falls, I'm thankful. I can look out the south facing windows in my computer room and see a forsythia bush blooming yellow and a yet-to-be-identified fruit tree with white blossoms, soaking up the moisture.

I'm particularly happy to see that mature forsythia bush growing on our new property. Mom loved forsythia bushes. When we were kids, seeing the ones in our yard bud and bloom brought a smile to her face. She often cut sprigs to brighten up the house or share with Grandma. For Mom, more than any other flowering plant, forsythia was the bellwether of spring. I'm thinking of planting a row of forsythia bushes along the road in front of our house. I'll call it "Verla's garden" in my mind and dedicate my labors to her.

Mom also loved flowering crabapple trees, the ones that bloom rosy pink in spring. I make a point of planting at least one every place I live. My husband thinks less is more when it comes to planting trees because it's such a hard job, but I think MORE is more. We'll compromise. I'll plant at least two flowering crabapple trees in bare areas to the south of our house. Then next year I'll have two more visions of spring to brighten my view.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Joys of Spring

I love winter best of all, no matter where I'm living at the time. Wind howling in from the north and blankets of snow transport me to childhood winters of snow forts and snowball fights and Mom's hot chocolate. But the arrival of Spring in a place surrounded by budding trees is a joy to behold.

This spring at our new home will be an adventure. Each new plant pushing through the soil will be a surprise. Checking for mushrooms in the woods will be a daily sortie for awhile. Raking the accumulated thatch of years to make room for new grass is a hard job, but rewarding. Planting trees and rose bushes will be labor rewarded for years to come. Setting up watering and feeding stations for a variety of birds will be, perhaps, our greatest challenge. Our neighbors across the roads have cats who visit our outdoor cats regularly so protecting native songbirds will be a high priority.

We are tree people and bird watchers. We believe there can never be enough trees surrounding us. One of our favorite relaxations is sitting in the garage watching rain fall in the woods behind our house. We don't have a porch for sitting yet so make our observations from the garage. Watching redbirds, bluebirds, woodpeckers, and the occasional oriole flit from tree to tree is a joy. Behind our property, to the east, a sprawling field hosts the musical song of meadowlarks and the raucous calls of crows. Our days and evenings will be blessed by such sights and sounds.

Yes, I guess we are easily entertained. Such entertainment is free for the taking this spring, and we don't have to travel to exotic places. All we have to do is go outside, listen, and look around us. For an added bonus, we get to breathe air fragrant with the scents of rich earth and new growth.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pea soup fog, awards, and housewarming gifts

One of the joys I miss most from our years of living in Kentucky is fog. We loved sitting on the porch morning and evening, watching fog creep up the hollers and swirl around us ghostlike. Through some quirk of nature, Kansas and Nebraska have been enjoying such fogs in recent months. Yesterday afternoon I watched out my kitchen window watching fog roll in across the field behind our property. This morning we woke up to thick, white, swirling fog. Fog is dangerous for folks traveling the highways and byways, but a beautiful phenomenon for those safely cocooned inside the house.

My admiration for writer and journalist Tom Parker is no secret to those who read this blog. I often struggle with the reality that writers like Parker do not receive the recognition they deserve. Well, now I can rejoice. Tom Parker won TWO first place awards in the Kansas Press Association's 2007 Awards for Excellence. Parker has a weekly column in the Washington County News, maintains a blog at http://dispatchesfromkansas.blogspot.com, and wrote a book of short stories by the same name. (The News also won several awards. I was especially pleased with the award for their Opinion page, which is one of the best and most interesting I've ever read in any newspaper, thanks to Editor Dan Thalmann.) If you have not followed Tom Parker's blog, you're missing a treat. Who woulda thought that living in Kansas would be so exciting??

Another of my favorite writers is Elizabeth Lucas-Taylor. Her first book, Unfinished Business, just literally blew my mind. She's a woman who can write sizzling romance and intrigue as well as or better than any big name best selling writer. Her talents are many and varied, including crochet work. She crocheted and sent me a lovely throw as a housewarming gift, to keep me warm on cold Kansas nights. Taylor has too many credentials to list here, and dedicates much of her time to helping other writers. She's also a woman of strong opinions, which she shares at http://elucas-taylor.blogspot.com. To learn more about her, visit her blog.

Personally, I plan to snuggle under my warm throw on this foggy morning and read Parker's latest column in the Washington County News.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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