Leroy’s “New” Plant

Tuesdays often find me driving down the very first driveway I ever drove on.

The one at Blackberry Flats.

Home.

Once again life and laughter and love fills the house and the yard and the spot beneath the Scotch Pine–and all up its branches as the children climb and play, hardly able to be seen from our spot sitting on the porch–now Mess Cat’s and Leroy’s porch.

When I walked up towards the house yesterday, I saw a pot with a plant in it.  For a second I thought, Oh well, isn’t that nice?  Leroy got a new plant.

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He’s got all the landscaping skills.  I love seeing what he has added and enhanced.

But this, after a second of appreciation, this one confused me.  Because–well, there’s a story there.

My Daddy often gave gifts that were out of the ordinary.  On Easter he gave us children mechanical pencils.  At Christmas he picked out music he loved and wanted us to hear.  He’d often share a book he thought we needed to read.  One Valentine’s Day he gave us daughters pretty colored tights.  The purple was especially lovely–I can still see them in the clear plastic ball.  And for Mama, he got roses.  But not in a vase.  In a pot.  With soil.  And he planted it by the back steps.

Many years later, when age and genetics slowed them both down, Mama decided to add a back porch to the house, complete with a ramp to make it easier for Daddy to go places.  Daddy nodded, and it came to be.  But before the steps were moved and the porch was built, the rose simply had to be moved.  And so it was that Leroy came in and did just that.  He moved it down to the other end of what would be the porch.

But this rose, like their love, had very, very strong roots.  And one day, as Mama and I were sitting on the swing on the porch, I noticed little leaves coming up through the crack between the floorboards.

“Mama, what do you reckon that is?”

She looked closely.  And then we looked at each other, realizing what had once been there.  “The rose!”

Now how it continued to grow after Leroy dug it up and moved it was a mystery.

But a lovely one, to be sure.

Mama cut it back a little and tried to get cuttings from it, but she allowed it to adorn the porch.  And it continued to grow.  It intrigued me.

Recently Leroy went under the porch to see if he could figure out what to do about it since spring was here and it was popping its head up through the floorboards again, despite his cutting it back.

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And this was the solution he came up with.

He’s tried cutting it back, and he thought about digging it up again, but in the end, Leroy decided to go with “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

And I love it.

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I mean, I really, really love this.  You know he’s a good man when he will put a hole in his porch to accommodate a living thing like that.

And that rose?  What a beautiful reminder of the strength of the love of the two who started it all.  And the spirit of new life and hope rising up after all that time in the dark and brokenness.

May we all find the strength and persistent spirit to climb up out of our own darkness towards the light and shine with all our being.

Love to all.

 

Piddlin’ and Putterin’ Around

It’s been one of those weekends. I only had a couple of things on the “agenda,” leaving a lot of room in the margins for getting together with my sister Mess Cat and her family. Or not. Whatever. Free time. That has become a precious commodity around here. So it was a nice surprise.

Several times this weekend, I’ve called Mess Cat or she’s called me.
“Hey, whatcha doing?”
“Nothin’ much. Just piddlin’. You?”
“Oh just putterin’ around. Nothing major.”

And this is how our several phone calls went all weekend. (With the exception of her painting trim in their new house. And I think she did refer to that as “putterin’.”)

This afternoon we puttered around at Mama’s. We sat on the porch swing and just soaked in yet another southern July day with highs in the 80’s and a nice breeze.  Beautiful.

The view we had today.....sitting on the porch swing and piddlin' around.

The view we had today…..sitting on the porch swing and piddlin’ around.

Later we checked around on things, uprighted a birdbath our two rambunctious boys decided would be cool to turn over to get the “dirty” water out.  No easy feat, that one.  We puttered around in the house, picking up, putting things away, emptying the ice bucket from the freezer.  A whole lot of little and a little bit of nothing.

In case you were wondering, putterin’ and piddlin’ around are not related to laziness at all.  In fact they are not for the faint of heart, for to putter or piddle around, one must have the ability to do things with ease and focus so as not to enter the level of frenzied activity that could be deemed “work.”  Piddlin’ and putterin’ are good for the soul and not strenuous on the mind, body, or spirit.  Think Andy Taylor and Floyd sitting around whittling on the bench outside the barber shop.  Now you got it.  Good stuff.  It takes skill, I’m not gonna lie, and years of practice.  But yeah, me and Mess Cat, I think we’ve got it down.

We’re working our way slowly toward the new normal.  One day at a time.  I like to think we are resilient.  Like the Back Porch Rosebush.  Before Mama’s back porch was built, there was a little set of concrete steps at the back door.  Next to the steps was a rosebush.  When they were getting ready to build the porch, someone, I think it might have been my brother-in-law Leroy, moved the rosebush to the other side where the porch would end.  It’s growing quite nicely, and there were two beautiful roses on it when we were there today.  It was a few months after the porch was built when we saw a sprig of green coming up through the floor of the porch.  At first we didn’t really pay much attention to it.  I think we clipped it back and kept on keeping on, what with Daddy being sick and all.  It quickly grew back through the floor.  Mama soon realized it was her rose, which somehow enough of it had been left in the ground that it was regenerating down there in the darkness under the deck.  She tried rooting it and cutting it back some.  The rooting didn’t go so well.  In recent months my siblings and I haven’t really thought too much about it.  Today, here it was in all its glory, thanks to all the rain, celebrating reaching the sunlight.

The porch rosebush, our own version of the phoenix, rising up out of the darkness towards the light.

The porch rosebush, our own version of the phoenix, rising up out of the darkness towards the light.

For Mess Cat, me, our brother and sister and all of our family, this is what each day is about.  Reaching past the darkness towards the light and hope for better days, yet still connected to the darkness.  Once you’ve been there, you can never leave it fully behind, but you can soak in all the goodness and love around you and reach for the light.

And so we do.

And while we’re reaching, we putter.  And piddle around.  And sit and be together.

That’s the best stuff in life.  Being together.

As a summer treat to celebrate a beautiful day, here’s a great summer song to putter and piddle around to–y’all enjoy!

And yes, that’s Kris Kristofferson with the guitar and cigar.  And if you don’t laugh with Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, well, there’s just no help for ya!