Sunday, July 18, 2021

Chintzware On the Shelf

 On summer evenings, before the sun sets, long shafts of light move across the shelf. A warm glow illuminates the roses and forget me nots on the cups and saucers. Past generations of brides set their tables with these flowery ceramics. Who were those women? Did they set them out for special luncheons, accompanied by birthday cake or rounds of bridge? Or did their first owners optimistically use them every day, until children and years of hand washing led to chipped plates and broken-off handles? My shelf holds a collection of survivors. They may be mismatched, but they are ready for tea. Or birthday cake.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Whose Shoes?

Look closely and you will see them: A pair of silver metallic pumps. Someone threw them over the chain link fence bordering a narrow walkway between two buildings. They are now trapped by the sturdy vines that have grown around them. A spider has woven a veil across the heel. You could write an entire collection of short stories aout those shoes, the how and why of their current fate. Does their owner walk past? I should say "their previous owner." They now belong to the vines and the spider and the weather.

Sunday, July 4, 2021


 Given the choice, I will choose a blue flower. Hydrangeas make me happy. They are big and grandmotherly, happy to screen the foundation of a house or peek through a fence, just like these beauties here. Years ago, we moved into a house blessed with a couple of hydrangeas in the back yard---pink hydrangeas. I spent two years watering them with an acidic fertilizer, coaxing them to change from pink to blue. In transition, the shrubs were gorgeous, a fantasy of pink, violet and blue blossoms living in analagous harmony. But if I must choose just one shade for my hydrangeas, it will be blue.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

A Garden For the Birds

You will not hear the sound of a lawn mower on this corner. Instead of a lawn, there are bird chirps and calls as they dart in and out of the  grasses of different heights and textures. This garden is a haven for birds. They swoop down and settle near the water features nestled among the plants. An oakleaf hydrangea stands at one edge and vines will soon climb up the pyramid of ladders. The ripening seed heads of coneflowers and grasses will feed all those who visit. Their happy chatter is a welcome change from the roar of lawn mowers.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Floral Silhouettes

 Every so often I walk by an odd spot that looks like a weedy patch. It's a couple feet lower than the street and in the winter all you see are rocks in the bottom. I think it is some sort of catch-basin for water run off. When the weather warms, a host of native plants spring up among the rocks then quickly grow taller than the street level. They were waist high today, vibrating with the hum of bumblebees. Then I looked down and saw the silhouettes on the pavement, perfect reflections of their green sisters: leaves rounded or sword--ike, grasses lacy. I was there when the sun was at the perfect angle. It was the unexpected gift of the day.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Cloud Tree

 We call it the Cloud Tree because it's far wider than it is tall. Right now, fully leafed out, those leaves are almost the size of dinner plates. With a horizontal branching structure, It’s a rolling cumulus of green from the sky right down to the grass. People stop their cars and ask "What IS that tree??" We know that it's some type of catalpa. We know that it was planted one hundred years ago. Some years it blooms, briefly. This time there are seven florets, a new record. It must have been such fun for past generations of children playing hide and seek. I indulge in a quieter pursuit: enjoying its overwhelming greenness

Sunday, June 6, 2021


 My sister started some foxglove plants last year and shared them with me. I had my doubts, thinking the front garden was a bit too sunny. This spring, stalks shot up from the spirals of leaves. Now the flowers are opening, fancy pink frocks with speckled linings. The unopened top buds curve and nod in the breeze. They are dramatic and glamorous. They are also poisonous, the source of the heart medicine, digitalis: floral femme fatales that can both kill and save lives.