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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September in the Raggedy Garden

      September. September means seventh month. That's because the ancient roman calendar year started with March. It makes sense. March is when everything wakes up and starts living again. Somehow, things got a little mixed up! Oh, but when I hear September, I hear a different sound. A smokey, warm, delicious sound, An end of summer sound. September mornings stay dark until seven. Thats when the sun comes shinning up over the hill and into the Raggedy Garden. The breeze sighs softly through the pine trees, so soft you can't hear it unless you really listen. The turkeys come gabbling quietly on the edges of the field, scrabbling through the acorns and fallen leaves. It's a fairly large flock, many different sizes. They blend in. If you don't know to look and listen, you probably won't see them. The dew lies heavy on the grass. It takes a long time before it dries.

         It's time to start putting the Raggedy Garden to bed for the winter. I know I should be out there filling the garden house with clay pots , fountains, all the fragile things that can't be left out in the cold and the snow. I go out, but I get distracted, and  sit in the swing, and dream. The mellow September sunshine, the breeeze with just a hint of coolness, the musty, damp fall smells, they distract me. The dandelion fluff and the monarch butterflies that drift past, rising and dipping as they go. The raucous gang  of crows winging aross the garden....did you know that a bunch of crows are officially called a 'murder' of crows? Now, isn't that delightful?....The blue jays, too, now fly in noisy crowds. All summer they have been sneaking about in nefarious pastimes. Now they distract me with their racket and their coats of blue.
           The Autumn Clematis has climbed up and over the roof, a huge cloud of sweet whiteness. The cone flowers and sunflowers still bloom. The alyssum has come into its own, the fairy roses and the pansies are back enforce.The leaves come slowly twirling down, landing willy nilly where they will. Red leaves, orange leaves, yellow ones and brown. Some mottled and splotched, not deciding which color to be. A walk along the edges of the woods is rife with crunching and rustling as I step on acorns and shuffle through the leaves.

         Now, for coffee, hot cider, tea or hot chocolate. An amber cup that glows in the September sunshine. A picnic in the Raggedy Garden. Homemade maple oatmeal bread for sandwiches, spicy cookies and crunchy apples. feasting indeed! Frost warnings means bringing houseplants back indoors.  I sigh to think I must go around shutting windows, and digging out the flannel sheets. Can summer really be over, so soon? The nights start out starry and bright, but the cool night air makes for misty dawns. Even after the sun comes up, I can see where the river runs by the line of mist that rides across the valley. Flocks of  geese have been passing by . In the gloaming, that brief time between daylight and dark. I hear them, far up, and lonely, calling , calling to the vagabond hearts.
        So I dream of summers past and holidays that are coming, remembering old friends, old attics, old songs. seeing old roads and hearing old fires crackling in the dusk. Old books, they too have the musty September smell. There will be time, now to curl up and read an old favorite. Harvest these, all things September, in this month of the harvest moon!




Monday, September 10, 2012

On Flanders Pond

         Did I ever tell you that I love this place? This serene and hushed cove where I have been fortunate enough to spend a few days the end of many summers? Fragrant with the scented balsam , cedar and hemlock. Wrapped in the misty foggy mornings. Dappled by blue and gold days of sunshine. Sleeeping in the coolness of clear starlit midnights. Whispered to by waves, and breezes. Fed by the bounty of the sea. I took no pictures of the eagle, nor the loons, but let me draw them with words. No picture could do justice to the eagle. Early in the morning, all shadowy and still, he dips and dives for his breakfast. When the sun comes up, he soars and wheels, flashing his colors, and he dips and dives again. The water drops fall like diamonds from his wings as he mounts the air and flies to his tree top. That highest tree top across the way. There he sits, all hunkered and fierce, and he screams his wild and mighty scream. The loon will swim by in the day light. He's huge and bright, and he skims across the water, dives deep and comes up again a far, far piece away from where he went down. But he's quiet. You never hear him in the day time. It is only then, in the misty mysterious midnight , with the fog hiding all the world, then you hear him. His long lonely tremelo, his mournful wailing, sobbing song. It fills the night. It echoes over the waters. It cries into the forest and the camps and the pond and the sky. Remember in the Heidi story when Heidi asks the Grandfather "Why does the eagle scream so?" And the Grandfather answered that when he sits up there in the clean pureness of nature and he looks down with his keen eyes and sees the dirt and the wretchedness and the pettiness of man and what he has done to Gods world, then he has to scream down at us to tell us his disgust. I think perhaps the loon, too, as he glides about in the daylight and sees what a mess we make? Then at night he cries out against us , laughing and sobbing at how we have continually ruined and ignored the world that God made.
      Isaiah the prophet comforts us with these words " But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
          The long wet dock is a must. Here the kids and the dogs run. Once you have heard bare feet on the dock, you will never forget the sound. It will ever bring back to you memories of that great sploosh when you get to the end, and dive in. The way the water got in your nose when your brother ran up behind you, and pushed you off. The way the boat thumps against it when you got back from fishing. The way the little water birds hopped across it. The way the frogs chugged at dusk. The way the fishing poles leaned against the posts. The dreams you dreamed as you dozed there in the sunshine, the picnics you had there , all sandy and wet. Everyone should have a shadowy dock to pull out from their memories when they get old and sad.
        The little house out back, so necessary to camp life. Here the sun light dapples the trees and the forest floor. It's not really so bad, either. At night, when you go out with your flashlight, tripping over roots, feeling the kiss of the night breeze, hearing the owls talking and the water lapping against the shore and slapping the sides of the john boat. Then you go back up the trail in to the house, trip over the dogs, and shiver with that aaahhhh feeling of crawling safe and snug under the quilt.

        The fishing fun begins after dark. The tiki torch sheds a warm glow over the dock. The night sky is full of stars. Our glow-in-the-dark bobbers streak over head like fiery meteors as we cast them into the wind. They float , red glimmers in the black water until a fish is on, and then they disappear and send us dashing for the poles. Everything looks different in the starshine. Shadowy and secretive, soft and peaceful. Our voices carry over the water. Our laughter sounds lilting and far away. We fill a bucket with perch , leaving the bucket filled with water until morning. Then the master fillet man goes to work. Fish fry coming up!
       The campfire flickers and glows. It crackles and sizzles. It sends a smokey fragrance blowing across the pond. A camp fire is friendly. It goes way back, back to Indians and pioneers and mountain men and cowboys. Men have hunkered over campfires, cooking fish and game, boiling tea and coffee, warming hands and feet, drying clothes and jerky, keeping the wild things at bay. Thats the things you see in the flicker of a campfire. All those lonesome, friendly times and places, all those long ago dreams and faces. Thats what a campfire conjures up.We have a late night snack of blackened hotdogs and crispy, melting in the middle marshmallows. Then its into the sauna. Hot steamy goodness cleansing our bodies and softening pur muscles and minds. A brisk scrub with a bar of Irish Spring, a run down the sand and into the water, cool and senuous on the skin. Who doesn't sleep the sleep of the pure heart after that?
         Going clamming at low tide, we are. The boys catch a pile of lobsters off the floating dock. Now we will eat like royalty! Steamers and fresh lobster dipped in butter. We invite Tinker, who lives next door. It's Tinkuh, I believe. Born in Bar Harbor, lived there all his eighty one years. Has a camp out here at the pond to get away from the craziness of a Bah Hahbuh summer. He brings us a bluberry gingerbread that he has just made. Spicy, fragrant, moist, warm. We add a dab of ice cream and we lick our buttery fingers and listen to him tell about eighty years of Maine living.

        Low tide, we girls head for the sea glass beach, buckets on our arms. We walk the sand with our eyes on the ground, stopping to bend and pick up a treasure and straighten up again, the shell seekers dance at low tide by the sea. Each piece that goes into our bucket is a small piece of a large story that we will never know. Someone, some where, some time, treasured this cup or plate or bottle. How long has lain broken , washed by the waves and the tides all over the world, before we pick up these fragments, so smooth and softened by time?

         Do I have to leave? Well, I know I doI know I wouldn't appreciate it if it wasn't so rare. But I have my memories to carry me over to next year. Beautiful place by the sea. Giver of happiness, giver of dreams. God bless my family on Flanders Pond!                                                                          

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The woodshed. The shingles are worn and warped and some are missing. The door is crooked with rusty hinges. The windows are broken, the glass gone. The floor is part dirt, part cracked and broken concrete. This is a remnant, a piece of a life before I came here. I have walked in and out that door a million times, I think. The remnants of a once new tightly made door. I pile wood in here every fall and all winter I take down the piles and lug them into the house, remnants of trees that grew green and tall in the woodlot. They feed the maw of the stove, merry crackling fires, wisps of smoke, and lastly, ashes. Ashes that I spread as poor mans fertilizer in the Raggedy Garden. Remants of warmth and cooking and flame.

             When I open the door the sun is shining through the remnants of the window, streaking the wood pile with golden light, remnants of  golden fall day. There is not so much wood left in here now, in the remnants of summer. I need to get stacking. But today I stand in that stream of sunshine and look around. The walls are cluttered with the remnants of many years of burning wood. Axes with broken handles, old crosscut saws, oil cans ,black and smeary with years of dripping oil. Old wooden boxes, old tobacco cans full of nails, a rusty shovel with a chipped head, a rake with most of its teeth missing. Lacy spiderwebs grace the corners. A pile of tire chains is heaped on the floor, remnants of old. Does any one use tire chains any more? Sawdust dusts everything. An old chewed up glove sits high up on the pile. I can hear the rustle of a mouse, and a chipmunk peers at me from the doorway. A bee bumbles in the glassless window, a groggy fall bee who flies without rhyme or reason. There is a shelf above the window. It's higher than my head. I stand tippy toe and crane my neck.
           The sign hangs there above tin shovels, tiny oil cans, a tin funnel, coffee cans, an aluminum pot filled with wedges and jugs. A remnant of our family, from long ago. R. Somero. Fancy script. Purposefully serrated edges. Remnants of the chains that it hung all those years before. It hung at a camp in northern Michigan, on the lake. There was a boat and fishing equipment and rustic living accomodations. Boone remembers fondly the time he spent there, mostly with his grandad. Fishing and cooking up their fish and sleeping with the slap, slap of the water against the shore. Remnants of memories, hidden in everyday living. Fragments of the past here in the shadow of the roof where the sun shine never can reach. I'd take it out, hang it for the world to see, still smooth and sturdy, speaking to all and sundry. " Here I  am still, R. Somero. I lived and I died and I left you the remnants. Share them so the chain goes unbroken   and the circle goes round." He likes it hidden there, where only he can find it, and remember....
           Broken window, bringer of light, soon I will pile the wood in front of you , high up where I can barely reach, and no sun will shine in here til winter is past and there are only remnants again.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Perfectly Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free)

     I 've had this recipe hanging around for , probably years. But I never made them because it just seemed unrealistic.  Any way, I needed to make some cookies, and had used up all my flour because I got a big Nissu order. So, I thought, give a whirl, Annie. Much to my surprise, they came out absolutely perfect! Here goes.....
                                             1 cup peanut butter
                                              1 cup sugar
                                              1 tsp. baking soda
                                               1 egg
                        Mix together. Drop by spoonful on sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes.
       Thats it folks! I crisscrossed them with a fork dipped in sugar just because thats how peanut butter cookies are supposed to look.
           So easy. It only made 18 cookies. Good sized ones. So for a lot of people you would want to double this. I also left them on the pan for a couple minutes before I transfered them to cooling racks. They were nice and firm, didn't crumble.
              Now for a cup of good coffee, a good cookie, and a good book! I like the way you can see the reflection of the coffee and cookie in the book cover! Boy, am I glad I ran out of flour! Make these and enjoy!