the petals on the ground

on this first day of spring
I remember vividly another beautiful spring day
walking beneath the towering cherry blossom trees
dressed up in their pink finery
so full that they blocked out most of the sky
that was a brilliant blue with only
a few of the fluffiest clouds

I held the hand of the girl who walked
and he carried on his shoulders
the girl who was quite new
in six short months she’d filled our hearts with joy
and our lives with stories

these two girls who were and are my world

the little one looked up at the blooms above her and laughed
that deep gurgly laugh of the very small ones
and to this day I wonder
if that is why she so loves the pink

this one born in the land of the rising sun
all those years ago
as she rode on her Daddy’s shoulders
smiling down at the one whose hand I held

and our feet landed on the petals on the ground
as step by step we made our way to this spring day
half a world away

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By THOR (Cherry Blossom) [CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Important Update: My Toes Are Not Cold

Today was filled with wonderful moments and stressful ones.

Which really isn’t that different than any other day I suppose.

Except that today the things that brought me joy were the simple ones I often lose sight of in my day to dailies–a shared laugh, the perfect color of blue-green, the smiles of friends reflected in the light.  And the things that brought me stress were things that are also nearly always present–the ever growing dust bunny population, the inside of my pantry, my spider problem (okay, to be honest, even ONE is a problem, but yes, this is a thing), and the lack of action by my people the first time I ask them to do something.

I got to the end of the evening, having just sat down here to write, and I noticed Miss Sophie panting.  She ran around and had the best time outside this evening, and she just enticed two of us to play her twisted game of Fetch.  She’s worn out, but I also realized she is probably warm.

Warm.

In that moment, I did a quick assessment and realized, my toes aren’t cold.

My toes are NOT cold.

Well, hallelujah and color me ecstatic!

While some may claim we’ve had a mild winter or that I’m a wimp, I still have to say that my toes have been cold for months.  I’VE been cold for months.

And, no offense to Winter or anything, I’m over it.

Tonight in the hustle and chaos that comes with even the best of things, I had slipped in and out of my sandals several times, and it didn’t fully register with me.

Y’ALL, I WORE SANDALS FOR THE FIRST TIME AGAIN TODAY.

And this wasn’t the “flip flops are the only thing by the door, I’m only running out to the car, surely my toes won’t fall off frozen in those three minutes” kind of wearing sandals.  This was no kidding, this is the attire of choice AND weather appropriate.

WEATHER APPROPRIATE.  I don’t know if Spring is really here, since my Granny always warned about the Easter Cold Snap and we have two more weeks until Easter, but what I can tell you is TODAY WAS GLORIOUS.

And yet, in the midst of it, I was totally oblivious to my toes’ joy.  I wasn’t fully appreciating that this was what they’d been waiting on for months, until I sat down and reflected on it tonight.

 

Y’all.  We wait on something.  We hope for something.  We think on it and, in the middle of a cold season, we dream of what it might be like for that thing to BE.  And then one day it is, and so much is going on, we have a hard time recognizing it and really getting that, WE MADE IT.  All the good has come that we dreamt of, and we are so distracted, it just slides right in there as our reality and we don’t even notice it or fully appreciate it at first.

Here’s to the moments of realizing the joy of being warm, of finding light, of wishes and hopes becoming reality.  Here’s to all of us who dream in winter of longer days and laughter and love and toes that aren’t cold.  And here’s to those realities that just slip in the back door and surprise us so much we laugh out loud and wiggle our happy toes.

Love to all.

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Happy toes.  Unpainted, yes.  But Happy.

 

Her Lovely and Gentle Ways

Today found Winter clinging to every last bit she could, refusing to let go of the grip she had on my toes.  I am so tired of being cold, weary, and of coming home in the dark.

But on this day, when Winter was hanging on for all she was worth, her genteel sister crept out from behind the veil where she was hiding and whispered.  As her breath hit the air, it warmed slightly.  It was as though she were timid and not ready to be seen in large gatherings, but still–I caught a glimpse.  It would seem she took a little walk and left in her wake her dainty little footprints in the form of the blossoms that bowed and nodded as a gentle breeze wafted through–the pink a shade of blush or bashful, I couldn’t be quite sure which.

In the air, all around serenaded her, trying their best to convince her to stay as the birds sang their songs and frog music played in the background.  Even the sun put on a show for her before he headed for bed, inviting her to stay over and continue her visit tomorrow.

Ahhh, well, as the sun parted company with the sky, and all grew dark, I knew she had left us for a bit, uncertain if the timing was right or not.  As my soul thirsts for bare feet and warm grass and the kiss of the golden sun on my face, I do hope she will feel more at home tomorrow.  Or the next day.  And maybe she will set up camp and plan to stay for a while longer than a day here or there.

I’ve missed her.

And all of her lovely and gentle ways.

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prunus persica in bloom

Little Bits of Green

This afternoon between piano recital and our time at Evening Prayer, I took Miss Sophie for her afternoon constitutional.  We went a little further than we normally do, as there were a lot of children playing near our house, and Miss Sophie is, well, easily distracted from the task at hand.

In the quiet as she sniffed all the things, I took the time to look around and appreciate the fact that I wasn’t freezing standing there.  The blue of the sky was classically beautiful, and the sun shone brightly.  But it was when I looked down that I saw something that surprised me.

Georgia or not, it’s still winter here.  We’ve had a few days that have me crocheting warmer colors on my temperature blanket, but lately we’ve been back into the “my toes are cold and want to go home” kind of weather.  There are hardly any trees other than evergreens with leaves on them, my bulbs aren’t growing yet, and the grass is brown–and dead.

But as I stood there looking and thinking while Miss Sophie did her dog thing, I noticed that the grass wasn’t all brown.

I saw bits–if ever so few and tiny–of green.

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Wow.

It really surprised me.  I stood there, chiding myself, Well, what did you think, Tara?  That the brown grass just one day, blade by blade, would turn green and spring would officially be here?

I suppose not, but I don’t think I’ve ever paid that much attention to the process.  It’s just been brown and dead and then one day, the grass is green, it’s warm, and my flip flops are back where they belong.

On my feet.

But today I realized something.  In the midst of that brown and dying grass, well below what the eye can detect, there is life.  The green is there.  Waiting.  Even when we don’t see it.  Waiting for the right situation, and the right season.

And then I heard my Mama: Ecclesiastes 3.  (her favorite)  To everything there is a season.

The new life is there.  And one day, when the time and season is right, it will choke out all of that death, and all around us there will be rebirth and life and growth.

One day…..

what has been in the works all along will be apparent and shine through the brown grass and darkness.

Wishing you all a glimpse of green grass today and everyday.

Love to all.

The Stick and the Stalk and Their Stories

Six or seven years ago I was at the Super Savings Store with the littles.  I remember going in through the gardening section and seeing they had a lot of “plant type” things on sale.  I saw that they had Iris bulbs.  For less than a dollar.  I grabbed them up–a couple of packs.  We paid for them, brought them home, and as a part of my daughter’s school project, she planted them in little shallow holes in the ground.

So much that could have gone wrong.

Old cheap bulbs.

Amateur planting.

The fact that we had no idea what we were doing.  At.  All.

And yet, they grew.

And they have every year since then.

I love the Iris.  It started with the Fella bringing me some when we were courting.  We had one printed on our wedding napkins.  And when we had to travel to Okinawa to have a Level II ultrasound done in anticipation of our Princess’ arrival, the room we stayed in for that trip had a painting of irises on the wall.  It just seemed…..right.

This year.  This year the green stalks came up out of the ground.  They looked weak and wimpy and were easily blown over with the wind or rain.  I just knew that it wasn’t happening this year.  It had been a good run.  I mean how long can those little brown knots keep growing such beauty?  Surely not much longer.

After all, everything else has long bloomed and moved on.

And then yesterday–

The tea olive, a gift from another sweet friend, has grown up so lovely, and the irises seem to be happy rising up amidst its branches.

The tea olive, a gift from another sweet friend, has grown up so lovely, and the irises seem to be happy rising up amidst its branches.

they took my breath away.  I forgot how elegant they are.  So graceful.  And that color.

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Perfection.

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They bring me great joy and what an amazing story they have.  Each one of those lovelies can claim a little brown knot as part of  her family tree.

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That gives me hope.

So does this.

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This “stick” came to us in a box.  It was a gift from a friend who can grow anything.  And her heart is as big as her green thumb.

She told me to put it in some dirt and pray.

So I found this old pot that was Mama’s in its previous life.   I put some soil in and planted the stick with the long root.  I gave it a home on my back porch Roost, and I waited.

It has earned its nickname “Hope Plant,” because each morning I walk out there to check on it, hoping to see some sign of life.

And then two days ago–voila!  That’s exactly what I found.

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Have you ever seen such a beautiful shade of green in your entire life?

Not me.

Today that little leaf was unfurled just a little more.  I shared this picture with friends on Facebook.  It’s been quite entertaining hearing everyone’s guesses as to what it might be.  Hydrangea?  Fig?  Mimosa?  All I know is it is not a Mimosa, because my friend said it’s not.  I promised to keep everyone abreast of its growth through #HopePlant updates.  To see how intrigued this has everyone is too much fun.  I am looking forward to the big “reveal.”  I can’t wait and yet I can.

It’s all about the journey too, isn’t it?

Tonight I’m thankful for the joy and hope that new life brings us.  I love the message that nature shares if we only pay attention.  Beauty can come from the plainest of things.  Good things come from dirt.  And from friends with giving hearts.  And what looks like a stick or a wimpy green stalk might just be filled with a wonderful story.

Just like us.  And our stories.

There is more than meets the eye.

May you find a message of hope in something that crosses your path today.

And everyday.

Love to all.

Running for Love

From rising before the crack of dawn to walking with Miss Sophie this evening, from the icy chill of early morning to the warmth of the afternoon sun, today has brought a plethora of images of new life and sweet life.

The last of the blooms on a Japanese magnolia at my favorite campus.

The last of the blooms on what I believe is a Japanese magnolia at my favorite campus.

These sweet yellow flowers remind me of my Granny's farm.  I love them and all the warm fuzzies they bring.

These sweet yellow flowers remind me of my Granny’s farm. I love them and all the warm fuzzies they bring.

 

This tree has been bare all winter.  Look at that beautiful green!

This tree has been bare all winter. Look at that beautiful green!

 

Each of these leaves was smaller than the tip of my pinky.  I love to see some baby goats and baby puppies and babies of all sorts and kinds, but baby leaves are pretty cute too I think.

Each of these leaves was smaller than the tip of my pinky. I love to see some baby goats and baby puppies and babies of all sorts and kinds, but baby leaves are pretty cute too I think.

 

And for the sweet.  Cinnamon rolls thrown in the oven when we got back home, and our Princess decided to top hers with her all-natural gummy bears.  It's Easter, why not?

And for the sweet. Cinnamon rolls thrown in the oven when we got back home, and our Princess decided to top hers with her all-natural gummy bears. It’s Easter, why not?

 

But the sweetest image I can only picture in my head.

My brother, who is a minister, called me after church today.  He was, in his own words, honored to be the one to give the sermon at their Community Sunrise service this morning.  When he told me what he talked about, my heart was full, and I wanted to give him the biggest hug.

But it’s not geographically possible right now.

He talked about the story found in the Good Book in John 20–the story of John running for the tomb.  My brother pointed out how grownups don’t run toward something like that very often, so filled with love and passion.  He’s right, isn’t he?  Children seem to have cornered the market for running with joyful abandon, but not us adults.

Except for my brother.  He runs and chases his children. And mine.  And Mess Cat’s little guy.  He’s good at that.  So much so that his presence is requested outside at least once every day when they are here.

Children like to run towards someone or something they are excited about, something or someone who fills them with joy.  Children also like to be chased.  Pursued.

I love this story, and what it challenges me to do.

I need to seek joy.  Pursue it.  Run towards it.  Run towards the new life that can come from loving all and from caring and showing compassion.  Forgetting what I look like while I’m doing it, I need to run hard and catch that joy.

Who in your world needs someone running towards them?  Who needs someone in pursuit of them because they are loved and cared about, so they can see and feel that?

May we all find what makes us run with joyful abandon towards it.

Love to all.

Ode to Spring and Welcome

Though I complain about the pollen that turns everything an interesting shade of yellow or green and has my nose and sinuses on the run, little can lift my spirits from the quiet contemplative state of winter like the appearance of the blossoms in the spring.  The glimpse of beauty bursting open, seemingly from out of nowhere touches my heart and gives me hope.  If beauty can come from what once looked like an old dead stick, well, you can see where my heart takes that.

In an effort to share just a bit of joy with you all, I offer you these glimpses I’ve had of such beauty in the past few days.

 

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From my Bradford pear–good gravy, I do love those Bradford pears.  They are such wonderful divas, so full of color as the fall comes–their glossy dark green dresses turning all shades of autumn.  So beautiful that one might think them spent until the following fall.  But no, they come out of the slumber of winter all dressed for the dance in their finest ball gowns of white…..

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with a tinge of pink.

 

 

 

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And then’s there’s the Loropetalum.  So dainty and exotic looking all at the same time.  Glorious color everywhere!  She greets me and all who come with her beauty and colorful blooms and leaves.

 

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Oh me.  My very favorites.  The tea olive, offering up the finest scent from its tiny cluster of blossoms.  I once told my Daddy, who had planted the very first one I’d ever met at the corner of the house at Blackberry Flats, that the fragrance from the tea olive was what I hoped Heaven smelled like.  It was love at first sniff.  I have one by each door into my house, and I often finding myself stopping and taking time to smell the tea olives.  Be forewarned, if I’m around one and you are with me, I will make you ask you to smell it.  Because when I experience beauty that touches me to my very core, I might just feel compelled to share it with all who cross my path.  So it is with the tea olive.  We planted one out at the cemetery on Daddy’s first birthday after he left this world.  I love that I can go out there and catch the delicate perfection that is the scent of the tea olive, while my Daddy is experiencing the real thing firsthand.

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My little guy and I visited Wesleyan, my alma mater, last Thursday evening.  The cherry blossoms were in full force, just in time for the opening of the Cherry Blossom Festival.  This group of beautiful trees stands close, tucked away behind Candler Alumnae building.

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As we walked through the trees, I remembered an evening just about twenty-five years ago exactly, when I had made myself a sandwich in my room and walked out to sit on that bench at dusk and contemplate the changes that were about to come in six weeks and some odd days–graduation and all that followed.  It was the “all that followed” that I wasn’t very sure about.  It scared me, but I remember finding peace and hope sitting there, hidden and protected by the umbrella of blossoms.

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Oh and the Geese.  On front campus.  They aren’t the friendliest of sorts, much like other creatures we are starting to see as the weather becomes a little less frigid.  And I realize they aren’t really signs of spring, but they always make me smile and I am reminded that I am not alone.

 

May you all find something that ignites the hope that lies deep within you.  And may it open and blossom just like the buds on the Bradford pear, the grande dame of the seasons herself.

Love and hope to all.