SPRINGTIME WORRIES

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When you can look out your bedroom window, and see a view that is so magnificent in all its glory, all the white and pink blossoms bursting forth to show the world that another spring has arrived, it seems impossible to believe that this beautiful scene could be the cause of untold worries for the farmers that have brought it forth. Ever since the end of fruit season last fall you have been looking forward to a new year, to beautiful  blossoms, and a wonderful crop of cherries, or apples, or peaches.  Being a fruit farmer, or a member of his or her family means that you always have these expectations of the next years crop sitting somewhere in the back of your mind.

Most years you are lucky, the trees bloom, somehow the dreaded freezes just manage to avoid you and you end up with the wonderful fruit that Michigan is so famous for. Pleasing all of your customers is one of the main goals in your life. There is nothing like handing an apple to someone and seeing their smile in return.

But right now we are under a freeze warning for our area tonight. We don’t actively farm ourselves anymore, but all of our neighbors do.  The laborers in our area are all dependent upon good crops.  Our customers and that includes us, all want this great Michigan fruit. So we do the best we can, we watch the thermometers hourly , and we send our prayers soaring upward in hopes that all will be well this time.

But one thing I do know, no matter how cold it gets tonight, no matter if the pistils turn black, the farmers will be determined to try again next season because this is just what farmers do, they plant, they grow, and they pray. And somehow it works, and we are all thankful for that. .    IMG_0136

OUR FRIEND VERNA THORNTON

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hearts_sSometimes  we have to smile  at our memories, be thankful that we had our friends as long as we did, and look for the words that express how we feel about them. Verna Thornton was probably the first friend that I made after I moved to Florida and discovered the Creative Writers Club at Betmar Acres. One of the original founders, she was an enthusiastic member that almost always showed up on Monday morning. As our facilitator she guided us in our writing, suggesting many subjects that she felt we would be interested in. As a poet, she excelled, and she and I felt a kinship from the very first time that I went. I was so impressed by the way her words could always make me see a picture in my mind. She just had a way with descriptive words that could make you laugh or cry or remember something in your own life.

Verna has gone on beyond us this week. She hadn’t been well after a bad fall a month ago, and we had missed her at our group meetings. I talked to her a few days ago and she was very determined to get better so that she could attend again in November. She lived alone, after having taken care of an ailing husband for many years. When I got the phone call I was shocked because I hadn’t expected it.

I found this poem written by Verna in our annual book put out by our group this spring, and am printing it to show you how she felt about moving on from us.

FLYING FLOWERS

I was just a little child

And watched the pansies die.

Grandma tried to comfort me

As I began to cry.

Then she sat me on her lap.

She hugged me close and said,

“Pansies droop and petals fall,

But they’re not really dead.

Notice how the butterflies

Have colors bright and gay.

They are wilted pansies, dear,

The ones that got away.”

Now, my pansy bed is filled

With deep exotic hues,

Yellow, purple, rust and bronze,

Mahogany and blues.

Vibrant colors, trimmed with black,

Their scent is everywhere,

Sunshine yellow on them all,

Their fragrance fills the air.

Rippled by the summer breeze,

They’re nodding in the sun,

A dark and somber little face

Peers out from every one.

Wistfully, they try to speak,

And each one seems to say,

“How much longer will it be

Before I fly away?

I’m bound to earth by stem and roots

My days are passing by.

How much longer must I wait

To be a butterfly?”

Today our Verna is a beautiful, shining butterfly, so watch for her wherever you go.

WALKING UNDER A FULL MOON

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imageSilvery full moon shining down upon us

The darkening sky is almost free of clouds

The streets seem more quiet tonight

I feel a great change coming on.

It is cooler tonight than normal

A change in the weather has come upon us.

I see there are fewer cars driving about.

Many of the driveways seem to be empty

The annual trek to the north has begun.

The siren call of warm sunny summers in other homes is upon us.

Altho many people will leave many others will stay.

This is their home.

They relish the quiet which will descend upon the park.

Looking ahead I see a fellow walker coming.

She is pushing a cart just like I am.

But her cart is filled, filled with Buster and Sophia,

Approaching us she brings the little dogs to be petted.

Their little bodies squirming with delight,

Waiting for my friendly hands to give them a rub.

This is what our park is about.

Neighbors greeting neighbors, exchanging their states of origin.

Our friendly walker wishes us safe travels.

We smile and say goodnight

But we know that next fall

Back to our park we will come,

Back to our friends in the south,

Back to our walks every evening

Back to our new friends, Buster and Sophia,

Hoping we will meet again under a silvery full moon.

Bon Voyage.

HOW ABOUT?

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IMG_0127Looking at a picture from last spring, in April to be exact, out our dining room sliding door after we had just returned from Florida.  The scene looked so delicate, our flowering tree just beginning to show its early bloom, the pool still covered up after a long, hard winter, the grass a very light shade of green, and all of the new season just waiting to show up and give us some sunshine.

I hear that this past winter there was a lot more sunshine than normal, and for Michigan that really sounds fantastic. February in the North is gray, gray, gray, unless it is white, white, white. Growing up in Michigan, I am so familiar with boots, mittens, scarfs, snowpants, and all of the constant changes of weather. As a child we often reveled in the snow and the ice for skating or fishing. We made forts out of blocks of snow or large snowballs and had picnics in them. But somehow we grew up and started driving a car or truck and some of the fun seeped out of our daily activity.

Time rolled on as it seems to do, and now I spend the winter where there is a lot of sunshine. That is great, being warm enough to go out walking wherever we please to go.

But when I look at this picture I remember all of the charms of a spring in Michigan, especially when you are on a farm, and the blossoms will soon be showing up on all of the fruit trees. I begin to see that it is time to start gathering up our belongings, thinking of what we will need when we take our long trip, the clothes that serve us well in both places, the things that I can’t bear to be without, no matter where we are. A trip can be a lot of pleasure if you are not in a hurry. There are always new roads to travel, new restaurants to enjoy, and hotels to stay in.  When I was much younger, we used to take long trips across the country, but we often slept in the car in rest stops along the interstate. Now a comfortable bed sounds a lot better. That probably makes me an old fogie, looking back at the past, and realizing that nothing stays the same.

So Michigan, we will be on our way in the not too distant future.  We will enjoy the summer and surely the fall, which is my favorite, but at some moment in time I will begin to remember the sunshine, the warm beautiful days, the friends waiting for us, and then I will begin to pack again. What a pleasure it is to enjoy two beautiful states, and the best of both worlds.

 

WHY DID I DO THAT?

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Why did I ever DO that?, an intriguing question that popped into my mind while searching for the answer as to why my life is where it is right now?

Looking back over an extensive period of time it is pretty easy to see how I could have done things a lot differently.  Also a lot smarter. The problems that seemed so overwhelming at one time brought forth the urgent need to do something to change the situation I was in. It became “Dam the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” as a famous Naval officer David Farragut once said.

It seems as if somewhere in our thought processes we begin to see only one side of a problem, and then the results become less than what is desirable. Saying to ourselves over and over again, “Why in the world did I ever do that?” becomes a self-defeating process.  At some point after being miserable about our own failures we have to change our thinking. We can begin to ask, “What can I do to change my own attitudes? Have I learned anything from my life lessons? Am I trying to listen to other peoples viewpoint instead of exclusively my own?”

I have a new question for myself. When I decide I want to change something in my life, what else am I considering besides what happens to me? In the overall scheme of things, what we decide to do is more important to others than we can easily comprehend. We might say to our own inner voice, do I really want or need to do this? Kindliness is next to Godliness, I was told as a child, and a good mantra for me to remember. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, is another.

it seems that so many of the older platitudes that we were taught when we were young have stood us in good stead. If we had always practiced them all we would never have to look back, and wonder, “Why in the world did I ever do that?”

So today, friends, I am looking forward, and I like what I see. I no longer feel that I must look back, because I know there are bright days ahead for us all. Forward is good!

IF ONLY

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Panasonic Misc 2012 093If only we could go back,

Back to the long ago years of our youth,

Back to a simpler time where someone always told us what to do,

Back to the families that showed us right from wrong,

Back to the teachers that made us accountable for our time,

Back to the churches that reminded us to follow the Golden Rule,

Where would we be if we could go back?

If only we could look forward,

While remembering all the lessons we had learned,

Thinking that there is usually a much better untried way,

Noticing that others around us have their own paths to trod,

Realizing that we have our own inner voice,

Recognizing that our lives are the result of our choices,

If only – two little words that can be used

To show us a forward looking way.

Altho we can’t go back to our own “If Onlys”

We can place our sights firmly on the promise of tomorrow,

Knowing that we are the one who is in charge,

And “If Only” is no longer an excuse we can make.

 

 

01/01/17

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01/01/17! What a weird date that looks like! Doesn’t sound like a date at all. More like something made up by an author looking for a new book title.

Maybe that’s me, looking for something flashy to catch the eye of a Facebook reader on the first day of the first month of the year, 2017!

I woke up this morning after a good nights sleep, no staying up late to see the New Year in at our house.  No one calling at midnight because everyone knew it would only wake us up.  The truth be known, most of our children were probably sleeping also. It’s a whole new world anyway.  The relationships between parents and their children have made a distinct swing.

As a child I can remember the saying “Children should be seen and not heard.” No one explained what was going on in the world to their children on a daily basis.  We were expected to do what our parents told us to, and immediately.  There was no back talk.  If we were brave enough to ask “why?” we were told “Because I said so.” There were rules and we knew exactly what they were. And for the most part we followed them because there were consequences to be had if we didn’t.

This sounds like we lived in a world where our parents, teachers, and ministers ruled over us with a big stick, but for most of us that wasn’t such a bad thing. We lived in a world where there were rules, and the people in charge were the same parents, teachers and ministers. It was their job to teach us responsibility because that was the way they had been brought up themselves.

As we became teenagers we started to rebel, but there were always adults ready to show us the way things were supposed to be.

By the time my children came along and got into their teenage years life had taken another turn. The 60’s and the 70’s were very different than the rule abiding 50’s. Parents and children had to face an ever changing world, and that has continued to evolve ever since.

Now many parents have become the teachers, the explainers, of how the world works in a new and different way. They are much more apt to be “friends” with their children, showing them how and why life is the way it is.

As the children mature they are brought into the decisions of the family as important members.  No more “should be seen and not heard”. Because of the internet young people are more aware of all the activity going on around the world, and they have definite opinions.

Parents have always been very important in their childs life, but the relationships between them is no longer one of “My way or the highway.” It has been an evolving process for all of us.

So when you see a person of mature age being slightly upset over something they see young people doing, just stop and think about how they were brought up in a very different atmosphere. It takes time for all of us to accept a new way of looking at how things progress.

Life goes on, and we become closer and closer to our children. We remember how the world has changed from when we were the young people being told what to do and how to do it. We can see the advantages of knowing how great it is to know our own place in the family and our world. And we can rejoice that we can turn the reins over to a new generation, knowing they will do their very best.

 

 

 

Lake Michigan at its absolute best

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

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One of the things about retirement that I really appreciate the most is the idea that I can read as much as I want to – heaven in one little sentence.

So one of the well known poems that has come to mind lately is The Road Not Taken, written by Robert Frost in 1920. This poem has always intrigued me, the idea that we all walk down a well traveled road, doing pretty much the same things as most of our friends and family.  Altho we may not be overjoyed with the choices on the road, it is our own road and we are on the path to somewhere, just as innumerable people have always done.

But then, suddenly ahead of us, there is a fork in the road.  We know that most people will continue on their journey on the same path, and become the person that they had always wanted to be, a part of the crowd, one that everyone felt comfortable with, and this is fine for them. We don’t all want to be different, we may want to be a major part of the society that we aspire to.

But maybe you are the one who decides to take the narrower road, realizing that you will be more alone, but it is a good choice for you, and now you move forward in a new direction.

Along comes a surprise when the Law of Attraction kicks in.  You begin to meet others who are of like mind, and as you travel together your new path begins to widen.  More and more people become attracted to your lifestyle and you travel forward together.

So what happens next? At some point another fork will appear in the road.  Will you continue on your now well traveled road, or will you take the new road not taken?

Life is full of adventures, and we always have the choice…..

To go on or to veer unto another direction, that will be a new question.

Which one will you choose?

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PRAGMATIC

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For the past several years the word “pragmatic” has been popping up in my conversations with my husband whenever we got into any serious discussions about life and our place in it. Now that we are retired we have a lot more time to have these talks, and it has been amazing to me how we have gotten better acquainted with each other by just sitting and talking.  After almost 24 years you would think that we are used to each other’s ways, but that is not always the case.  When you both have a job somewhere there isn’t always time to really get down to the nitty gritty of how you feel deep inside about certain subjects.  We think that we know most of how the other person will react to everyday subjects because we have been together for so long.

Each of us seems to have a certain boiling point, and we know pretty much what it is, so we try to avoid it. What is the point of having an argument when you know that you aren’t going to change the other one’s mind anyhow? That is what I call “pragmatism”, when you know what is important and what really isn’t. Like when you know that you really should get after that extra load of washing, but it surely will  wait until tomorrow.  Or the grass certainly needs cutting, but you can always do it later.

“Realism” seems to be a synonym that works just as well.  One of the advantages of getting older is you begin to realize that it is a waste of time and energy to force anything upon anyone. Realism tells you that it is all going to work out just as it was meant to anyhow, regardless of what you do, or push or shout.  If at the same time your spouse is learning the same lessons as you are, why, you are a very lucky person, and they will be happy to embrace your pragmatism.  You will live in a more joyful house, and your children and friends will call you blessed.

A pragmatic is one who accepts what is, and is happier for it.  But a pragmatic is also one who looks for the silver lining, because they know it is here somewhere.

 

 

A SAFE HAVEN FOR WRITERS

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Retirement.

As we move forward in our lives retirement is not always as easy as we had hoped this new stage of life would be.  At the very least we can agree that things have a way of changing. What sounded so great when we were in our 50’s sometimes takes on a very different hue than we had planned for. So we make adjustments and somehow it all seems to work out for the better.

One of the things that has become a really great blessing is the way we have of making new friends, and best of all, they are friends that we have a common interest with.  We may have a wide variety of backgrounds, and different ways of looking at the world around us, but this is all to our benefit as we come together and share all of our thoughts and experiences. Subjects that we never even thought of are brought forward in great detail.  Life growing up in a Maine community many years ago becomes fascinating when you are hearing it firsthand from the one who lived it.  European experiences bring a whole different culture to the forefront when it comes to you across the table in your group of writers.

And we are all writers.  We all have the urge to write, to express ourselves, to share a part of us that may have been hidden before.  We may have written all of our lives, but reading it out loud in front of other members is another kettle of fish, as my father used to say.  Hearing the quiver in someone’s voice, knowing the fear that lurks beneath the surface as they reveal an inner part of themselves to us, we all are sympathetic to our creative friends. It takes real courage to bare your soul, to allow others to know the inner you. And we do it, week after week, and somehow it seems to get easier each time, as we realize we are safe among our creative friends. We can relax, knowing that we reside safely in this circle.

Our class means a great deal to me. What others say about my writing is important to my development as a writer.  When I write it is like I am talking to them, my friends. As I am reading, I can hear the rhythm of my voice, and it is very comforting to me to be able to express my thoughts.

It is also a very good feeling to listen to others and know that we all have a very special place in each others lives. We are showing that creativity expands in our life no matter what the age, and we have an important function to fulfill.

The main thing that I have been taught in our class is that we are all survivors.  We have all been thru the mill, done what had to be done, and we have survived. And we all still have a smile on our faces for our friends. I see the victorious human spirit in everyone in our class and it gives me great pride to say that I am a member of our Creative Writers class in Betmar Acres in Zephyrhills, Florida.