Spring Flowers ~

“The Earth laughs in Flowers” *Ralph Waldo Emerson

I took a walk around my yard this morning. The sky is heavy with the promise of rain by noon. My peonies are already sagging with the weight of yesterday’s downpour. I wish I had caged them in before they got too big, but I do love that on breezy days they are free to dance. Peonies are such an old and beautiful flower. Two of mine came from my Grandma Goodie’s farm, and they were almost lost. Grandma had given up flower gardening and I took over the lawn mowing. One spring I noticed some spikey red growth poking their way through the lawn. “Oh, yes, those are my peonies.” she said with a chuckle as she pronounced ‘peeOHNY’. It’s a good thing they were so tenacious, I dug them up and brought them home, saving them from the lawn mower and here they bloom beautifully every year.

~ Pretty in Pink ~

Speaking of grandmas, many years ago I took my maternal Grandma Helen on a road trip ‘home’. Though her family moved often when she was young, she always felt home was a ranch on the banks of the Grand River outside of Lemmon, South Dakota, where her grandparents and extended family had homesteaded in the late 1800’s. We knew the farmhouse was long gone, having been moved into town years before when construction of a dam created Shadehill Reservoir and claimed the land, but we hoped to find the family cemetery to pay our respects. We stopped at a general store outside of town to ask for directions. Two fellows were playing checkers on a board a~top an old barrel (true!). They questioned our motives at first, but then decided we looked honest and pointed us in the right direction with the stipulation, that if you open a gate, close it again behind you! I still can hardly believe we found it, but from gravel road to dirt, we wound our way across rolling lands of waving grass, opening and closing gates as I drove, and there it was. High above the old homesite, surrounded by a rusting wire fence was the cemetery. We walked around the graves, reading names we recognized from family history; Smebaaken and Scholaas. Grandma read the names of her cousin Vivian’s baby brothers and spoke of what a treasure she was to her parents when she not only survived infancy, but grew up. In one corner was a sprawling lilac bush. I tugged a start from the sun baked earth, (toppling over backward if I remember right) and on the way back to the highway, filled a baggy with water from the Grand River and tucked the slip safely in the back seat. It took root at my house and every spring, my South Dakota lilac gives me more than beautiful, fragrant bouquets, it takes me back in time to that special trip with my grandma.

My South Dakota Lilac in Grandma Helen’s vase

Mock Orange is another treasured heirloom. I brought a twig home from grandma’s farm, stuck it in the corner by my front porch and she decided that would be a good place to grow. At grandma’s house, the bush grew big and lush beside her back porch. Grandma had the best clothesline, a pulley system attached to the wall reeling all the way out to an ancient maple tree in the field. With her sheets pegged firmly to the line, flapping in the wind whipping up from the river, Grandma would sit a spell on a stool she made out of wood from the collection in her woodshed. I know how much she loved that view of cityscape and river, pasture lands and Mount Baker. I imagine in spring she lingered to enjoy the sweet scent of mock orange. For me, the scent not only reminds me of our wonderful days on the farm, but it takes me across the Cascades to Leavenworth. My great~grandpa built a log cabin where my uncle lived and aunt Fran lived across the lawn in a tiny house. I can’t recall seeing a mock orange around there, and she was not a gardener, but breathing in that fragrance on my front porch is like climbing into a time machine. I am ten years old playing hide and seek with my siblings and cousins. My sister and I visit Leavenworth often and have met the fellow who calls the log cabin home. He is the perfect person for it. When he had to take down one of the pine trees in the yard, he had it milled and used the lumber in his kitchen remodel. His love for the place makes my heart so happy!

Grandma Goodie’s Mock Orange… can you smell it??

Another favorite in spring~time is Love in a Mist. I’m pretty sure the fairies sowed the peppery seeds. Just look at the feathery foliage and how the purple flowers open their faces to the sky. Look closely, I think I see a fairy now!

~ Love in a Mist ~

I cannot do a morning walk~about without speaking to my Foxglove… oh my goodness! I brought the seeds for the wildings home from a walk years ago and sprinkled them all over. I’ve never taken the time to count the number of flowers on these tall stalks, but the bees hum and bumble in and out all day. We don’t have foxes around here, but I do love to imagine a forest glade and small red pups slipping their gloves on to dance in the moonlight.

Foxglove…

Thank you so much for sharing my morning walk, I wish you a wonderful day!

Peace. Love. Amen.

Hug a Tree~

“I think that I shall never see, A poem as lovely as a tree; A tree whose hungry mouth is prest, Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray; A tree that may in Summer wear, A nest of robins in her hair; Upon whose bosom snow has lain ~ Who intimately lives with rain. Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.” *Joyce Kilmer

I have loved this poem ever since Beaver recited it for Miss Landers so many years ago. It just sums it up for me~ TREES! They offer shade on a hot summer day and home and sustenance to so many creatures, and when their time is done, the very fiber of their being gives us lumber for our homes and logs for our fires.

Out my window stands a tall evergreen. He was our very first Christmas tree in our new home almost forty years ago. Now towering above our roofline, in my mind’s eye I see my daughter, this tree and a box of lights all in a wheel barrow, riding to the house. We placed the potted tree on a table in the bay window, decorated him for the season. Today the decorations secured to sturdy branches are three different swings adorned with grandchildren, just hanging out. Almost teenagers, they push with their feet, gently swaying as they converse with each other on matters I know, are of great importance. The flicker and the woodpecker have left a pattern of holes along his trunk and pitch trickles down, sticky and sweet. Dark~eyed juncoes flit from the feeder to the high branches and hummingbirds zip and zoom and briefly rest. Lately I have noticed his needles thinning and a some branches seem to droop. I’m hoping for a few more years for him and I pray I can let him go peacefully when his time is up.

…and they were swingin’

My siblings and I grew up on twenty acres of mostly woods. Lots of tree climbing and fort building happened at our old home place. My dad cleared and fenced a couple of acres for pasture and in the middle of the grassy field stood a giant Douglas Fir who my brother and I named “Big Mike”. We would take our picnic lunch up there and spend a lazy afternoon. Big Mike was a real friend to us. I think we could feel him talking to us as we rested our backs against his solid trunk. I can totally relate to the tree hugger movement. I don’t mean the activists who chain themselves to a tree to save the spotted owl (that is a different story), but the folks who wrap their arms around a tree out of pure love and to receive the natural flow of energy a tree emits. Hug a tree for at least five minutes and you will feel and absorb the vibration. In Japan they practice “shinrin~yoku” or forest bathing. In Iceland forest ranger, Por Porfinnsson, says, “When you hug a tree, you feel it first in your toes and then up your legs and into your chest and then up in your head.” Sounds like love to me!

During our current days of ‘stay home, stay safe’ and six foot social distancing, doesn’t a hug sound wonderful to you? I think I will go hug my tree right now!!

California Redwood… I couldn’t quite reach around him!

Peace. Love. Amen.

Memories in Pine~

“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our father did for us.'” *John Ruskin

I spent an afternoon with my sister on Saturday. We wandered the woods of our childhood, picking up pinecones and reminiscing our ‘good old days’. This campground was a favorite spot for our family to gather when we were kids. Shasta trailers and canvas tents lined the river bank. Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and a million cousins making this forest home for what seemed like weeks to us, but a weekend it probably was. We swam in the icy water of the Wenatchee River and broke rocks in Chiwaukum Creek. We whittled sticks, snapped at the river’s edge, into the perfect tool for roasting marshmallows around the evening fire. Up a trail there was an ant hill, always one of our first stops of favorite places, while our folks set up camp. Across the river lived a teeny tiny woman in a teeny tiny house, Penny Pemberton. She lived there all alone, a good ten miles to town and I don’t think she had a car. She piped her water from a spring and had a nice garden space, fenced off to deter the deer. The crew of us kids would traipse across the bridge and slide down the trail to her house for a visit. She had a plate glass window that offered her a view of the river and above it a narrow shelf held treasures she collected in her yard. A hummingbird nest, a few old bottles, a pretty piece of wood. She offered us peppermint candy from a jar with a lid, which we popped quickly into our mouths. How I wish I could hear our conversation! What did we have to say to Penny? And her to us? There is a mountain rising above her old home site, my grandma called it ‘Pemby’s Mountain’. I hiked it with my gram and Penny when I was just a tyke, could there a semblance of a trail there yet?

Looking across the river to where Penny’s house once stood. Pemby’s Mountain rising up behind.

This cookshed is where we gathered to share our suppertime. Tablecloths covered the rough wood, wild flower bouquets bunched into empty pop cans for decoration. There were stories and laughter as we kids wound down from our day running, swimming and exploring. This cookshed, from the looks of it, probably constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s, was built to last. Stone upon stone, though not laid by my father, we can appreciate the labor and the substance of it. My sis and I ran our hands along the log frame and sat on the picnic bench. A breeze came up from the river and across the grassy meadow. I swear it carried the laughter and songs of our childhood, and the cottonwood and pine trees whispered a ‘welcome back’ to us as well.

We wandered the roads of the park, feeling the warmth of the afternoon sun on our shoulders. We stopped at the creek and watched the water rush over smooth rocks and fallen trees. The park has been closed for going on seven years. Mother Nature is reclaiming her domain. But in our hearts it remains a sacred place, of youthful innocence and joy. A wonderful place to return to.

Chiwaukum Creek

Peace. Love. Amen.

Tradition~

Tradition. Such a simple word, but packed so full. Full of hope, expectation and promise. Memories and fellowship.

There are familiar traditions that go with calendar dates that folks as a whole carry on. Fresh picked flowers on headstones on Decoration Day, a picnic on the 4th of July, a trip to the tree farm on the first Saturday in December. We follow our traditions in an effort to stay connected to family and friends. When we get together to share our time and our stories, these remembered times can become tradition, having had so much fun, we part with the words, “Let’s do this again next year!” A new tradition is born. There can be traditions, singular to a particular soul, not followed by the rest. A walk along the river in springtime. A hand brushed across the weathered, sagging fence of a forgotten cemetery. Tradition truly is a matter of and for the heart. It can be ‘set in stone’ or fluid as a stream. Adding new ideas to old ways can invigorate a tradition before it wears out or becomes stagnate. And yes, sadly, sometimes we lose the things we once held dear. Perhaps we were too busy one year and then the next and then… the loss of tradition can be so gradual, you hardly know you missed it until one foggy morning, a memory pops up and, “Hey! How come we don’t… anymore?” Kids, who loved a tradition grow up, old folks who cultivated the tradition die. And what are we left with? The ghost of Christmas past? The echo of numbers chanted out loud as a forehead is pressed against the tree trunk, eyes squeezed shut; “…7,8,9,10- ready or not, here I come!” Who will carry on, I wonder? And then, the answer is there in the grin and giggle of the four year old. She will carry the traditions, some of mine mixed in with hers that she will create and hone as she grows up.

Traditions. I know mine so well and tend them as a bed of roses. I will share them to my last days and whisper them on the wind when I am gone. Perhaps someday, when she’s a sixty-four year old grammie, enjoying her coffee on a quiet Sunday morning, a memory will pop up and she will smile. “Oh yes! I remember~”

Tradition. Such a simple word.

Peace. Love. Amen.

This Time~

“Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hours duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.”

*Ralph Waldo Emerson

The view of Nugget Ranch from May Creek, Gold Bar

As I looked for a picture to sum up Mr. Emerson’s wise words, this was first to pop up in my gallery. I decided to look no further. Our entire world is in a state of doubt and fear, and rightly so. January 1st was so bright and shiny and full of hope. 2020!! Perfect Vision!! The future so bright, we needed sunglasses. Now, a scant three months later, the planet is in quarantine and Mother Earth is on bed rest. Our health is at risk and our economy is in shambles.

But… this too shall pass. History has proven this, though I know that doesn’t really help in the immediate crisis we have been thrust into. Nerves are frayed with worry about everything from our children’s education to our house payment. No kidding, it’s scary. But… this too shall pass.

Look at my photograph. A wonderful old barn, a pasture, a stream. My hubby grew up here and our kids splashed in these cool waters. It’s easy to imagine these as simpler times. To be sure, there wasn’t a world wide pandemic going on, but there were ups and downs, joys and tragedies. We pulled together and made it through, as I know we will this time. Read the quote again. “…spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hours duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.”

Spend yourself on yourself today. The ‘right performance’? That is whatever is right for you, right now. Today. Whether it is a project long put off until you had time, or just changing from jammies to jeans and a t~shirt. Savor the break from the hamster wheel we are constantly spinning on. Take care of yourself.

Peace~

Shelter at Home~

“Each day, and the living of it has to be a conscious creation in which discipline and order are relieved with some play and pure foolishness.” *May Sarton

As we shelter at home let us remember to breathe, smile and be a little bit silly.

This too shall pass.

Peace~

August~

August~ The month that announces Fall.  Low, damp fingers of fog hold to blades of field grass wet with dew.  The air is warm, but holds that chip on it’s shoulder, that soon the chill will bring the frost and old Jack will nip the nodding heads of summer’s last blooms.

August~ Kids holding on to the freedom of all day jaunts to the beach and long games of Monopoly in the shade. The puppy, worn out from constant attention, is lost in the thicket of poppies and spent peonies.

August~ This grammie gets a little misty, knowing even in my happy exhaustion, that there is more to squeeze from these last summer days.  School starts soon, I’ll have days, but no companions, save a lonesome puppy.  School, homework, activities and the hands on the clock keep going around and the pages of the calendar flip the months away.

August~ It holds us, suspended in sticky heat, as gardens grow and berries ripen.  It whispers, “This, too shall pass.” as the breeze rustles silvery, dry cottonwood leaves.  I know it’s true.  It’s fifty Augusts since I held my nose and plunged from the big rock into the cold, dark water of the Pilchuck River below the Dubuque Bridge.  Fifty Augusts since I shopped for school clothes on Colby Avenue; Chaffee’s, Miller’s, JC Penney, Anita Shop…

August~ A month to take stock and stock up.  The pioneers looked to larders and root cellars, knowing cold and barren months lay ahead.  My pantry is just fine, and Safeway is at the end of my country road.  My ‘taking stock’ is more of a rhetorical kind.  In the pantry of my heart there are shelves full of boxes neatly labeled, ‘Trip to Index’, ‘Walkabout Deception Falls’, ‘Fort Casey 2017’.  There are some papers, messy and scribbled, “He’s touching me!” “Are we there yet??” and my not always patient response scrawled across in red ink.  These I think I’ll jam in a folder, or better yet, recycle.  August can keep those secrets, it’s three weeks until school starts and I’ve got some stocking up to do.

Peace~

 

Happy Birthday, Gayle~

“A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit,

a golden thread to the meaning of life.”

*Isadora James

Today I celebrate my sister.

We grew up in the middle of twenty acres of woods at the bottom of Bunk Foss Road.  We made our own fun, carving trails through the underbrush and camps beneath the vine maple.  In the backyard we built tracks and obstacle courses for our bikes, making a competition for us four Campbell kids.  We camped up the Icicle River at Johnny Creek, where our dad put a log across an inlet to keep us from the rapids. We splashed and searched for rubies under the moss on the rocks that lined our pool.  (Edna told us that’s where rubies came from!) There’s a good reason they call it the Icicle!  That water was COLD!  We camped in the Tumwater Canyon with cousins and grandparents, S’mores and roasted weenies.

My sister was horse crazy, and was so thrilled when our folks bought her a brown and white Shetland pony named Dixie.  Shetland ponies can be stubborn and Dixie was, but she met her match with my sister.  Dixie bucked, Gayle stuck to her back like glue.  She’d ride our wooded trails until almost dark, then turn Dixie toward the barn, put her head down and away they’d go, homeward bound.  Being the youngest meant she was alone to catch the elementary school bus.  This also meant there was an occasion for her to hide behind a tree along our driveway as mom went to work. ‘oh, darn, I missed the bus!’ and she had an impromptu Dixie day.

In the evenings after dinner, we would set up our long dining room table as a classroom.  I, being the oldest, was the teacher, of course.  I spent many hours drilling knowledge into my baby sister’s head.  “Come on!  Learn this stuff, and you can skip grades and be in my class!”  To us, that would have been the best thing!  The teachers or whomever it was that makes the decision to ‘skip’ a kid ahead, did not see eye to eye with our plan.  She was destined to follow me through the hallowed halls of SHS.

I taught my sister to drive.  In my beetle, we cruised and practiced on the backroads.  Through Machais, around 3 lakes, up to Granite Falls…sometimes we laugh when we recall big rocks and sharp turns…and we are glad we both survived my instruction.  We’ve enjoyed many road trips over the years.  She drove mom and dad’s big T~bird on our trip to Yellowstone, dodging prairie dogs all the way, mom and dad calling from the back seat, ‘quit swerving, just hit the damn things!’ Then there was our road trip to East Wenatchee that still gives us shivers.  We encountered Ted Bundy on the river shore.  Of course we didn’t know it at the time, it was just before he hunted his victims at Lake Samamish.  But we know it was him.  Lucky us, we survived that road trip!

She stood beside me when I got married and when my babies came along, she became the cool auntie.  When she brought her babies into the world, I was with her, my baby sister having a baby~ so sweet!

Recently she invited me to share her latest adventure.  Having purchased a second home in the sunshine of Arizona, we (husbands in tow) arrived on a Wednesday afternoon to check it out.  As new homes usually are, it was empty.  A bit more than daunting, I think, but she had a list and we had a plan.  First stop Costco, then Thursday morning, up and at ’em, we began to hit estate sales.  I was the navigator, plugging addresses into the GPS.  We circled the greater Sun City area more times than we could count.  Between the four of us, (that’s eight eyes on the prize!), we managed to fill the car and the borrowed truck many times over and by Saturday night were nestled in our own cozy beds in her lovely desert home.  What a team!

Today I celebrate my sister.  But not only that, I celebrate my best friend.  Happy, Happy birthday! Love you Sissy, here’s to many more good times and great adventures!

“Shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us?” *Pam Brown

 

 

How to train a Grammie~

The grand~ones have been wanting a bunny.

“Please, Grammie, can’t we have a bunny? You could keep it at your house, and we’ll take care of it!”

I know what you are thinking… but a bunny would be a nice addition to our little menagerie, right?  Of course it would.  But you can’t just get a bunny.  You have to have supplies.  A hutch, food, bedding, not to mention carrots!  So this is what I’d reply when the bunny begging began.  We have to prepare, and we will… maybe in the spring… Then I saw a friend’s post on Facebook.

‘Looking for a good home for Harvey. A very sweet bunny. Comes with hutch, and supplies. Neutered and chipped. Free to good home.’

And so we have a rabbit.  Harvey was delivered lock, stock and hutch Sunday morning, just a month short of spring.  He is very sweet, and coming from a dog friendly home, he’s not bothered in the least by Sparky and his inquisitive sniffing.  The grand~ones are in heaven, holding him, petting him, and cuddling with him in Papa’s big chair.  The boys ordered a harness on their Amazon account, so Harvey can go on walks (or should I say ‘hops’) with us, and Paige is researching rabbit training videos so she can teach him tricks.  His hutch is just outside the backdoor, so he gets to be in on the comings and goings of a busy household.

Harvey joins a couple of house cats, Jolly and Gizmo, Sparky the dog, and fourteen nice laying hens.  I think he’s in good company.  I know he has found a good home.

Now I am bracing myself for what I know is coming…

“Please, Grammie, can’t we have a goat?  You could keep it at your house, and we’ll take care of it!”

Maybe in the spring…

for Jill~

“The cure for anything is salt water~

Sweat, tears or the sea.”

*Isak Dinesen

     On December 23rd, 2004, Jill shared the news with her family that what she thought was a bad tummy ache, was in fact a tumor on her liver.  The devastating word that accompanied that diagnosis was cancer.  The doctor gave her two months to live.  God gave her four and a half, and for that we are all eternally grateful.  Jill lived her last days on her own terms.  She kept her positive attitude and cheerful disposition.  She served us veggie juice concoctions with fruit juice for dessert.  She tested and shared healthy recipes, still trying to fatten up her hubby, Steve.  But on Sunday, May 1, 2005, May Day, a beautiful sunny day, Jill left us to join her grandmas and grandpas and all the loved ones who have gone ahead to prepare her place in Heaven.

     Jill was born in Everett on February 16, 1959.  She arrived early and spent her first days in an incubator, building strength to go home to meet me, her big sister and brother Mike.  The next year, Gayle joined the family and there were four Campbell kids.  Growing up on twenty acres at the bottom of the Bunk Fosse Road, we made forts and trails in the woods.  After dinner, we all went out to catch frogs, letting them go again before bed, so they could sing us to sleep only to be caught again the next night.  She and Gayle had pet goats named Missy and Spring who performed great tricks, such as prancing across the roof, just like Santa’s reindeer.  She would sing beautiful songs to her pets and for a time took piano lessons from our neighbor, Betty Moe.

     Jill’s lifelong love of cooking began at Grandma Goodie’s house, where we opened a ‘restaurant’ out in the camp trailer and served great feasts of hot dogs and mac and cheese to Grandma and Fred.  She also tested her decorating skills at Grandma’s, not only painting the upstairs bedroom purple, but sewing matching curtains for the window as well.  Jill always followed her own creative path.  When styles changed and girls were sewing clothes from Simplicity patterns, Jill sewed too, but she made her own patterns, creating skirts and purses just right for her.

     Jill was a young mom.  She would laugh about she and Sunny growing up together.  They spent Sunny’s first years in a cozy house off Florence Acres Road.  It was in the park like setting of her backyard that Jill pledged her love to Steve in the summer of 1987.  Steve truly was the love of Jill’s life.  Later they moved to Skykomish, where they turned a run down old house into a mountain mansion  The best part of the house was the river rock fireplace.  Built from rocks they chose one by one from the banks of the Skykomish River, Steve topped his love for Jill with the addition of three heart shaped rocks just below the mantle.  They spent many happy years in this woodland retreat.

     As kids growing up, summers were spent on Guemes Island at Uncle Dave’s cabin.  Learning to swim in the cold salt water, beach combing and hunting for agates were some of her best memories.  For Jill and Steve, heaven was in the San Juan Islands.  They were happiest on their boat cruising and exploring the blue waters and hidden harbors.  Their favorite place was on Cypress Island, where they camped and fished as often as they could.

     The love of cooking that began in Grandma’s little trailer grew into a gourmet talent.  She was in her glory developing new recipes to try on Steve (still hoping, to no avail, to fatten him up).  Jill could taste something once and figure out the necessary ingredients, right down to some obscure seasoning or spice, and recreate it at home.  Her Applebee’s chicken oriental salad is better than the original.

     In 2001, Jill and Steve bought an old farmhouse just up the road from the wooded acreage we Campbell kids grew up on.  As is usually the case when you take on a project from a romantic point of view as opposed to a practical one, there was a bit more work than they anticipated…drain field, plumbing, pipes, heating… but they finally caught up to where Jill’s heart was ~ the kitchen.  She had her wood cook stove fired up, bread rising on the solid wood topped island and row upon row of colorful Ball jars lined up on the wall of shelves Steve built to accommodate her passion.  With her delicious recipes and beautiful displays, Jill was always in demand with friends and family when planning weddings, showers and other gatherings.  We still talk about her bread dough bunny with the tummy hollowed out and filled with dip for the most darling veggie tray ever served on Easter Sunday.

     It’s been almost twelve years since we said good bye. Twelve years of sharing stories of our many good times.  It is the sharing of memories that keeps her with us, while reminding us that life is indeed short, and we must live each day well.  Jill lived life to the fullest, loved everyone to pieces and her only fear at the end was leaving us alone.  She knew she was going to a place of pure light and love.  I think she saw through the veil and found her peace.

     Today, I celebrate 58 years of sisterhood with my sweet Jill.  Happy Birthday, dear one!  You are loved~

     Peace~