In the deep…

When people pass the Fourth of July and lament summer’s quickly approaching end, I have to shake my head. Why? Two reasons pop into my head, with the first being summer is nowhere near her sweet, humid, occasionally exceptionally hot end. We still have the whole long month of July before us before we’ll even notice the sun dipping below the trees earlier each evening, and August is hot and sticky too. Summer isn’t going anywhere, and even though parents might watch the calendar as the next school year approaches; it still means swimming in the pool or lake after school as a summer pleasure stolen from the approach of autumn.

The second reason why I like to luxuriate in the comfort of being in the middle of summer and nowhere past that point is because I’m from the north part of this country, and summer was just gaining her speed and strength by the Fourth of July! We finally had lakes warm enough (and warm is a relative term) to swim in and nights had blossomed with fireflies. The fans ran all day long, and even though we had some chilly nights from time to time.

My other thought about some people lamenting the loss of summer is it technically began mere weeks ago on June 21st, and summer’s deliciousness won’t end until September 21st. See how much time we have before we need to contemplate pumpkins, scarecrows and sweaters? We have all the time in the world. I suppose I have one other reason now that I dwell where summer is usually one long sweaty event. I finally fully embrace autumn when she wends my way sometime in mid to late September, due to the clear, crisp days that make me shake off the languid, long afternoons in summer. Afternoons spent hoping for the piles of cumulus clouds to turn blue and thundery just for a breath of fresh cool air. Those summer thunderstorms bring a pleasant breeze with gusts of coolness better than any ice cream sandwich.

I’m enjoying summer so much right now. The wedding was beautiful, fun and is over! All those months of planning came together in one wonderful weekend spent with friends and family, and the couple is still enjoying that honeymoon phase; so I’m going to let them have their privacy with their new life together. Meanwhile, I’m diving into those beach books that I only read in summer. Seriously. One of my life’s pleasures is books, and I intersperse my “serious” reads with easy ones meant to be enjoyed while listening the lull of ocean waves crashing on very hot sand. Beach books belong in summer, even if I’m just chilling out on the daybed in the air conditioning.

Since I haven’t been to the ocean yet this year, I’m picking photos taken at home. Where I live we do have storms that seem to pop up out of nowhere, and lucky me; I can walk out the door and have a front seat to the cloud show. Do you like to look up too? Isn’t the sky fascinating most any day, but especially these days that are suspended in sunlight? Is that why we enjoy the sudden darkening of the clouds, the tumult between white and blue?

Yesterday, my husband and I decided to sit out on the back porch and listen to the low rumble of thunder. I could barely see the clouds since they were so low on the horizon (and behind the swathe of trees), but my daughter said they had to stop swimming on account of the lightning. That meant a storm was near. So we sat and sweated and were rewarded with sudden stabs of lightning in the woods all around us! The cat wanted to go inside, and I suppose if I’d had better sense I would have followed, but the rain that went almost sideways in the downpour felt cool. Pleasant. And summer lays so much at our feet, doesn’t she?

Fresh tomatoes along with the basil that I’m growing is delightful on toasted bread. There isn’t even a need to add anything, though I doubt I could pass up some crisp bacon; hold the mayo, please. Opening the fridge and snacking on cut up sweet watermelon is a double delight, since the fridge spills cool air on my toes while I’m enjoying a farmer’s market find. Strawberry season just passed, but now the blueberries are ripe for picking, and soon the peach truck will wander our southern Ohio neighborhoods blessing us with the bounty found farther south than here. Many of us look forward to those peaches, and while I prefer blueberry cobbler to peach pie; many here make jams and jellies to remind them how summer tasted while they spread their jam on bread eaten on a cold January afternoon.

No story yet, because I have to mention my newest obsession with hydrangeas. The ones above are pretty, but after spending time in Louisville and seeing the blue or pink flowers so heavily laden on their branches; I knew I had to find a way to make them work in my garden here and in Kentucky. I’ve been wondering how to make them grow in this soil when I spotted them gracing the side of a house in my neighborhood. Nobody at Book Club tonight seemed to know if the neighbors are friendly, so I’m not certain if I can ring their doorbell and inquire as to their gardening techniques; but I’ll find a way to make hydrangeas work here. It’s been an obsession since we bought a house long ago where I inherited a magical garden.

All gardens are magical, since they exhibit the manner of the gardener. Some like a wild unkempt look while others must have order to their flowers, or at the least a theme running through their plants. I took on this beautiful garden filled with perennials and added to it over time. But I felt nervous at first, since the woman who sold us the house informed me she had spent hundreds of dollars on her flowers. I lost the phlox to mold, but the irises, clematis, roses, dianthus, larkspur and trumpet vine flourished. Summer is intoxicatingly beautiful most days, and my once forgotten love story with hydrangeas has been fully rekindled.

Gorgeous fountain, right? That’s included in my next blog post, but it’s so lovely that I had to add the photo here. But wait! I have a smallish story to tell you. When I lived in that 1920’s bungalow that had the wonderful garden, it did not have hydrangeas. Plenty of gardens in the neighborhood flaunted their bright blue flowers, but I felt slightly jealous and a bit bereft. I didn’t have much money to spend on anything back then, so the cost of that type of plant was out of the question. But on my walks I noticed which homes held the coveted flowers in their own magical gardens.

If only I could gather a few of them for myself, I could dry the hydrangeas and enjoy the blue hues long into the frozen days of winter; for dried hydrangeas last for years. I decided I was going to take a walk past a home the spilled forth with the blooms almost reaching the sidewalk. I reasoned that the flowers nearest me were begging to be taken, and the gardener would never know three or five blooms had been pilfered. Yes, I walked over a mile with a bag and scissors and a very guilty conscience, and mercifully a loudly barking dog in their front yard prevented me from becoming a hydrangea thief!

I look back now and am so thankful for that dog being there! But the story doesn’t end there. Not quite. I decided it was very wrong to take flowers from other people’s gardens, but late in that fall I happened to be tidying up the yard for the early Wisconsin winter when I spied several very neglected pee gee hydrangea bushes in the yard behind me. I couldn’t see their house due to the wall of evergreen trees that stood in their yard, and our yards were narrow and long. I asked my daughter to hop over the fence and grab a few green hydrangea stems, since they would look pretty in a wreath I was creating.

My daughter held her ground and said no, and I wound up walking around the block to ask them if I could have a few flowerets. The owners said they never went that far back in their lot, so I could have as many as I liked. Hydrangea happiness happened with no thievery involved. And as I plan to plant many hydrangea bushes as both houses, I hope I’ll share my (fingers crossed) bounty with my neighbors. What’s a few flowers between friends, right? It’s almost like borrowing a cup of sugar, except this is summer’s currency. The flowers of summer should be dried and linger long into the next year, where our eyes can feast on their colors!

Summer is here. The fireflies flicker each evening, the wishing star must wait until the sun has settled in bed for the night before it can appear. But even if our wishes must wait a bit longer right now, we can enjoy the forests, fields, skies, beaches, open air restaurants, newly born fawns or bunnies, storms, tee shirts, the droning of the fan, the trickle of the creek that happens only in summer and yes, even a longed-for garden. Wishes do come true. We don’t have to necessarily wait for that first star at twilight. We can wish to be right in the middle of summer, and here we are! In the middle with lots of fun left.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your hands and heart can hold…

Until next time,
Deanna

Make a beautiful day…

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A lovely book, its pages begging for words, and a simple, pure, white candle waiting for a spark. Finding the beauty on some days feels easy, doesn’t it? You step outside on a bright, sunshine filled, blue sky day, and the world beckons you. So many possibilities, so few limitations, and off you go. Whether that day ends as beautifully is occasionally up to us, but most of the time, the power rests in others, in circumstances, or in our perception of that day.

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Right now for me? Most days don’t start out super sunny, bright and wonderful, but I am continually learning to change my perception of what a beautiful day looks like. Time does that to each of us. Here I sit, in Chicago, for a fun weekend, that has been wonderful. I had no idea St. Patrick’s Day was such a huge holiday in Chicago. We’re here for a basketball game, but the rest of Chicago seems to be wearing bright shamrock green, filled to the brim with beer, or Irish whiskey, and I’ve encountered many oversized leprechauns. Did I mention the Chicago River? As green as the clovers on my cups in these pictures.

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I love the enthusiasm of today. If some people have had a wee bit too much of liquid happiness, I overlooked that. Mostly, I witnessed grins on a cold day, laughter among friends and strangers alike on a mercifully sunny day, and acts of kindness many times over. So why am I sitting outside my hotel room to tell you this? My perception. My eleven o’clock at night take on the day. I told someone a truth that I didn’t know how to soften. Nothing major, except, I could have placed the truth on a better day. A Monday? Just starting out the week, let’s get back to business and by the way, let me add to your rainy Monday kind of feeling? Yes, that would have been better. I’m learning. Still.

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I want everyone to feel loved, cherished and special everyday, but perception plays a part in our time together, our lives and our dreams. I’ve had days where I think I’m just every kind of fabulous and been side-swiped by the realization that I’m not. Not super wonderful, and that someone caught more than a fleeting glance of my flaws and addressed them. So what do we do when that happens to us? Feeling hurt is valid. Taking an hour to nurse a wound might be okay, even. But to let a night fester with silence and brooding? Why would we? When it is within our grasp to let it go.

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Before I burst into song here about letting some things go, maybe lots of things, I want you to know I try to find the beauty in many things. I can’t go in the sun anymore? Who needs it! Loving the beach, the feel of ocean waves carrying me along, well, I hear London and Seattle are places to explore and decidedly not sun soaked. Perception. While at the spa earlier this evening, the workers described their loathing of this drunken day. I thought most of the people were lovely, fun-loving and really, seriously, not drunk. (I may be oblivious here.) Perception. What if talking to the green people resulted in a friendship, a romance or a beautiful conversation?

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And I took this lovely day, filled with green rivers and bagpipers and made someone sad. The way my stomach feels, way up in my throat, heart pounding and decidedly wrung out, over truths that hurt, is that a perception I can change. Can we all do that? Can we take a rain pouring in our face day and twist it into beauty? Yes. Dwell on the good that happened, is happening or could possibly occur. Perception is the path, the key, and the way. If we look for the drunks, we’ll see just them. If we look for sadness, it’s out there, around the corners. Don’t go there. Look for someone beautiful. Something pretty awesome. You.

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I’m even smiling, out here in the hallway, because my attempt at Easter decorating is making my front hall table look like a deranged bunny king rules the entryway. Back to beauty, happiness and kindness. We all have tough days, filled with hard truths and someone informing us we are not terribly wonderful. Right? But if we think we’re doing our best to bring grace, love and truth spoken in love, and if we try to get better at this living our lives this way, isn’t that good? Doesn’t that make you all kinds of wonderful?

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We can find something beautiful. Even on the worst day. When I take walks, I always look up. Clouds and the colors of the sky fascinate me. I ran one night into an oncoming lightning storm and could not look down. I’ve twisted ankles because of this. And one daughter loves looking at the ground when we walk. And she pulls up the most perfect four-leafed clovers I’ve ever seen. She does this on most walks. Perception. I would rather go a lifetime without a lucky clover and never miss the clouds amassed in the sky right before a storm. And she? Would rather find the diamond in the rough by the side of the road.

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Even on the happiest days, some sadness seeps in. But let’s get through this week, together, willing our eyes and minds to find the beauty. Alter our perception. When a truth must be told, be as kind as you can. Kindness is cultivated through hours of practice. And be kind to you. You deserve love, goodness, and kindness too. I’m heading back into my room now. My perception has changed. And the hotel is slowing growing quieter.┬áDid I mention that my daughter found a diamond lying on the side of a road. Just a small chip. But her perception during our strolls led her to that beautiful chip of diamond perfection. So look at the world only the way you can. In your way, because you know what?

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Hey, this sign says it all. I didn’t place it there. Some kind soul out there did that. And those people? They are diamonds in the rough, ready to be discovered. Enjoy beauty this week. Especially when you look at yourself. You are amazing, you know.

Until next week…