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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dozens of Cousins


      The last two weeks have been filled with family. Family from far and near. Family that makes life worth the living. A wedding brings them to New Hampshire. A wedding that makes the continuation of family for the generations to come. I reflect on all these things...families, generations, blessings. A large family is , well, large. And I consider that yes, there are dozens of cousins here at my home, bonding and getting to know one another and getting reaquainted, for they are scattered to the winds. There are first cousins, and second cousins, and once and twice removed cousins, and it can make you dizzy if you try to figure it all out, so I will just think of them all as cousins.
     There are the long, tall South Dakota cousins, all long legs and cowboy boots, and the southern cousins with a slow, honeyed drawl. The red haired cousins, and the blue eyed blonde scandanavian cousins. The cousins with big hair and dark eyes, whose Sittu escaped from Tel Aviv in the back of an ambulance during world war 11. They eat far eastern foods and love their heritage. There are the french cousins with shiny brown eyes and glowing skin and the Irish cousins with Galway  Bay blue eyes and fair skin. There are the Russian cousins, whose father came to America from  Kazakhstan with only the clothes on his back so he could raise his children in this land of opportunity. They have clear white skin and mongolian faces. There are the cousins whose grandmother was carried over the Rio Grande on her mothers back , they too, have merry eyes and spanish blood. One little cousin has white hair and blue eyes and his forefathers came from Portugal.
     There are boy cousins and girl cousins and old cousins and baby cousins. They come from so many places and back grounds, and they all have heard the gospel and know the truth. Wht a rich heritage!
       There is lots of noise, with all these cousins, and we cook a lot of food and wash a lot of dishes, and there is never any clean towels and the we wash load after load of laundry. We are always sending someone to the store for milk and ice, and we go through dozens of popsicles and gallons of ice cream. In the mornings we make pancakes , for hours. We talk and laugh and cry. The fishing poles are lined up, ready for a trek down to the Dam, and the towels and the picnic basket. Its too hot and dry to find worms, so some kind uncle takes a carload of small wiggly boys to buy worms, and penny candy. I find worm cartons in the fridge for days after every one has gone. The swimming hole is not too far away, so Moms take turns loading up swimmers. The lines are full of wet swimsuits and muddy towels.

       The teenagers are vibrant, and smart, and confident. They talk loud, and they laugh, and they wrestle. They rev their engines and smoke the tires and blow their horns. They are in a hurry, as if time is wasting. They have places to go and things to do. Yet they help with the wedding, they entertain the children, they sit for awhile and listen to the old men talk. They stay up all night.At two am and four am you can hear muted laughter in the field where all the trucks are parked and see the red glow of cigarettes and and the white glow of styrofoam coffee cups inthe shadowy dark." I wish you had been out with us last night, Gram," they say. "there were so many shooting stars." And I cry, because, I know, they really would have liked it if I was there, and because if I could pass on to them anything that is mine, it would be that they could have the eyes to see shooting stars.
        Its hot the whole time. Searing hot, with a hot wind. It doesn't cool down at nights, and we sweat and toss in the dark. If we hang  out towels at eight in the evening, they are dry in the morning because there is no dew. Some times the thunder grumbles in the distance, and I lie there waiting to hear the sound of abundance of rain, but it does not come. The grass is brown and the dust rises and settles.
       The time flies by. Families begin leaving, one by one.The field is empty. The tents are pulled down. The circle of chairs in the shady spots sit lonely and forgotten. The silence spreads and covers the noisy, happy places." Come back," whispers the wind through the dusty screens."Come back," say the sheets on the line, flung into the wind and back again. The baby pool lies upside down and empty. The beds lie sheetless and bare. Only a small trace, a tiny pink sandal, a very dirty white sock, a row of bikes and trucks waiting to be ridden down the big hill, a camoflage cap, three pairs of fairy wings hanging on the pear tree. Thats all thats left of the dozens of cousins.

         Come again, come grace my life with your very aliveness, your words of hope and wisdom, your uniqueness, your joy. You are welcome in the morning, you are welcome in the noon time, you are welcome in the starlight. I'll take you any time!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July in the Raggedy Garden

               How it happened, I don't know, but it's July in the Raggedy Garden! Full blown, hot, windy, sweat stained, the sunlight is brash, the big fat bumble bees, and the busy little honey bees work through the blossoms. The birds nest are empty, the babies have flown, except for the wrens, who are busy and loud in their endeavors.
             Daylillies are en force. Is there any thing as tough as daylillies? This one got knocked down on the step and it just keeps opening a new bloom every day, gracefully reclining in the warmth and not minding at all how many times we step over it.
             The fairy roses and Ladies Mantle lean over the bricks, reaching for a shadow chair. Fairy Roses will bloom long into the fall, and they dry beautifully.
            The daisies shine, so clean and white, and petal-y. Don't you just want to do the "he loves me, he loves me not " game? I do! The screen house is finally up. The biggest job with that is sweet talking Boone to help me. He's so reluctant. I almost have to nag.... Any way, its up, and its so enjoyable. I found such a gorgeous table this spring at a sale. I couldn't wait to get it in there, and, yes. It's just what I imagined.
         Sweet? Yeah! It really keeps the bugs away in the evening, too, when the doors are zipped. It's delightful sleeping out here on sticky nights. The lights flicker and out side the lightning bus flash us. The crickets click us to sleep and if you wake in the night you can lie there and watch the stars and the whole universe turn slowly and surely into day. Then it's the bright and  morning star, Venus, and the birds start to twitter and the merry little breezes come drifting through.
            I love to use my old linens. Isn't this just wonderful? It looks like a water color painting. My jar of sea glass sits on it. Theres not much that can rival the loveliness of sea glass, the kind you have found yourself, walking the beach on a cold rainy day.
         The clothes dry quickly on the line, in July. I am enamored of sheets that smell of sunshine, and the east wind, and if I was more ambitous, I would have them fresh from the line every night!
         The garden house is warm and stuffy inside, but the small girls have hauled in the dress up trunk, and the boys know that there is towels in there, for when they play with the hose.
          In the Raggedy Garden, you can put on your muck boots, and slop, or you can put on your garden clogs, and go to work, or you can put on your dancing slippers, and go off with the fairies at dusk... I 'm waiting for you, don't be too long in getting here! August is just around the corner!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Independence Day

         When the Continental Congress declared itself officially separated from Great Britain, they appointed five men to write up a declaration of independence. Two of these men were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Thomas Jefferson was the youngest of them, and felt inadequate for the job. Jefferson, came from a wealthy family, but he was raised on the borders of civilization and was definitely a country bumpkin when he first came Williamsburg to attend the college of William and Mary. Here he learned the lawyers trade, and also was careful to pick up the finer things in life. He became accomplished in music and how to conduct himself around the gentry. He loved politics, so he was in the perfect spot. Willamsburg was the hub of politics at that time.

        Thomas Jefferson was not  a public speaker, and you can imagine him listening to the likes of Patrick Henry and the other impassioned men of the day, and feeling powerless. But he could write, so he began to use his talent in this way.  When this committee met to write up  a declaration, Mr. Adams was asked to write it. He said no, he would not. He said he was too hot headed and he shouted at people, and no one would like it if they knew it was written by him. He asked Thomas Jefferson to write it. And as we know, write it he certainly did. It flows along like poetry, like a song, crying out to the whole world about what America was thinking. He listed the wrongs and gave hints about how we, as a people could make of ourselves, with the help of God, into a great country. He wrote it all with a quill pen and an inkpot. Have you seen how beautifully the letters curve and curl over the paper? Could you write anything like that?
        The document was finished on July second, but it took two days for the Congress to hash it out, agree on it and sign it. John Adams, who wrote faithfully to his wife, Abigail when he was away from home, wrote to her that day. " "I am apt to believe that this day will be celebrated by succeeding generations as a great festival." he wrote. " It aught to be commemorated as a day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God. It aught to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, balls, bonfires, games, sports, guns, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward, forever more."
        So that was the vision of our forefathers. Lets carry the torch! Fly the flag, sing patriotic songs, read the Declaration of Independence out loud to our children. Let no one forget. Lets us all remember and rejoice, and be thankful, for this land that belongs to you and me, from sea to shining sea!

        I have been lucky enough to have been to Williamsburg where you can walk in the footsteps of these great humble men, who wanted liberty for their children. The war had already been going on for a year when independence was finally proclaimed. They knew what they were getting into, but they went ahead any way, in spite of what they knew." War is ugly, and painful and messy. It will be worth it in the end." When I stood on the street and saw the gardens and the people and the horses and the buildings, then I saw a glimpse of it all those years ago. I heard the music played by the man in the red cloak, and I heard long ago voices, of impassioned men, I saw the swirl of the dancers petticoats, and I felt the thump of feet going off to war.

       I sat by the Raleigh Tavern (here is the back of the Raleigh, and the well)  and I knew then, that those long ago men were there making plans that endure to this day. Happy Fourth of July!