love

Springtime…And A Young Girl’s Heart

It’s springtime.  The season when winter eases its chokehold, the ground softens making way for new growth.  Buds burst open and leaves unfurl as young flowers mature into their blossoms.

Nestled together in the garden, it’s not long before the inevitable comparisons arise.  Each amazing and breathtaking in their own right, they can’t help but wonder how they measure up against the whole.

“Are my petals too plump?

“Do these leaves make my bottom look wide?”

Of course not.  You’re beautiful.

“You’re just saying that because you’re my gardener, aren’t you?”

Then it happens.  The handsome stranger strolls along and spritzs the crowd with a mist of attention.  The bed goes crazy.  Everyone brightens, arching further toward the admirer, each hoping to be noticed.  “Pick me.  Pick me!”

He leans over and plucks you by the stem, taking you home for his own.  You’ve been chosen as the most beautiful bloom, a stand out among the crowd, worthy of being taken home for display.

But you despair.  You’re alone.  You find yourself perched on a pedestal.  No longer surrounded by your colorful counterparts, once admired by many, you’re now occupied by one.  Passersby gawk and exclaim, but rarely linger.  Why would they?

You’re taken.  Chosen.

You glance around, and wonder, “What are the others doing?” Are they basking in the sun?  Adorned by bees and butterflies?  Or swaying to the breeze, wild and free.

Why so sad?  Isn’t this what you wanted?  Weren’t you feeling cramped, lost among the cluster of your peers?  Didn’t you yearn to be deemed most lovely?  Most desirable?

Well, sure…in so many words.  We all want to be “picked,” cherished as the most beautiful, perfect creation of all.   Doesn’t it follow that we should be ecstatic when clipped free from the crowd?  Aren’t we supposed to be happy?

Yes and no.  If your petals were chosen to express love, then yes.  But if they were chosen to be displayed like a trophy…then no.  What’s the point?

Odd to compare girls to flowers, I know.  But as my daughter grows and blossoms, I can’t help but see the similarities.  While toiling away in the garden, weeding and pruning, mulching and fertilizing, I feel a swell of anticipation —  it’s spring!  The time for renewal and growth, blossoms and beauty –

And my daughter’s birthday.  Time passes so quickly, she’s maturing so fast.  It seems like only yesterday she was a little girl.  But now, she’s heading toward adolescence and the change is remarkable.  She’s blossoming toward her teenage years, flowering into womanhood.

And I worry.  She’s feeling the pinch of the crowd, the snip of comparison.  How do I reassure her of her glorious and unique qualities?  Remind her she is an extraordinary, oxygen-breathing, life-creating creature to behold?  An integral piece in the cycle of life?

I want to tell her: rejoice in your color and shape.  Embrace the length of your stems, the breadth of your petals.  While they may differ from others, they all work the same.  Ultimately, our physical parts all perform the same tasks.

Yes, indulge in the sunshine, reach for the sky, bask in the attention of your admirers — but be wary the gardener interested in clipping your beauty for his own.  If your blooms must be taken, aim for love.  A rose shared between hearts lasts a lifetime.  Cuttings die within days.

Consider instead, the bees.  They’re willing to work hard for your nectar!  As opposed to being selfish, their goal is worthy; seeking the highest and best good.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the gardener willing to spritz you with attention, just keep in mind some spritzers carry toxic substances.  At first glance, they appear harmless, but upon closer inspection the poison is revealed.  But then again, my sweet, you were so focused on being noticed…

Please.  Take your time.  Allow nature to take its course.  You’ll be happier in the end.

Valentine’s Day in the Garden

Have you ever wondered about the similarities between plants and men?  Probably not!  Most sane people don’t.  But me, when I’m not writing, I spend a lot of time in my garden—maybe too much—and my thoughts?  Well, they naturally veer in that direction and I realized men and plants have much in common!

Ever wonder, if your man were a plant, which would he be?  Just for fun, I’ve listed a few.

Corn – Tall and slender with silken hair, this man provides well and yields a harvest of golden treasure.  While pleasing to look at, beware:  he also tends to be needy; easily blown over by the slightest of breezes—not the man for you hardier types.

Peanut – This good ‘ole boy is made of solid stuff, on the inside and the outside, not to mention he’s filled with sweet old-fashioned appeal.  For most ladies, it’s a tough combination to resist.  Add the fact the kids love him and you’ve got yourself a marrying man!

row of peanuts

Watermelon – This well-rounded fun-loving guy is always welcome at a summer barbecue and usually proves a big hit with the kids.  Prone to balding, his colorful personality distracts one from notice.  However, take heed.  If left to his own device, this one can grow wild and get quite out of hand!

Garlic – This fellow is somewhat distant, as he spends long periods of time out of sight, only to emerge when conditions improve.  Strong and distinct, he’s not for everyone, but given the right environment, he can show great depth, even mellow his pungent tone with time.  A worthy peer, indeed. More

Valentine Fun in the Garden

Have you ever wondered about the similarities between plants and men?  Probably not!  Most sane people don’t.  But me, when I’m not writing, I spend a lot of time in my garden—maybe too much—and my thoughts?  Well, they naturally veer in that direction and I realized men and plants have much in common!

Ever wonder, if your man were a plant, which would he be?  Just for fun, I’ve listed a few.

Corn – Tall and slender with silken hair, this man provides well and yields a harvest of golden treasure.  While pleasing to look at, beware:  he also tends to be needy; easily blown over by the slightest of breezes—not the man for you hardier types.

Peanut – This good ole boy is made of solid stuff, on the inside and the outside, not to mention he’s filled with sweet old-fashioned appeal.  For most ladies, it’s a tough combination to resist.  Add the fact the kids love him and you’ve got yourself a marrying man!

row of peanuts

Watermelon – This well-rounded fun-loving guy is always welcome at a summer barbecue and usually proves a big hit with the kids.  Prone to balding, his colorful personality distracts one from notice.  However, take heed.  If left to his own device, this one can grow wild and get quite out of hand!

Garlic – This fellow is somewhat distant, as he spends long periods of time out of sight, only to emerge when conditions improve.  Strong and distinct, he’s not for everyone, but given the right environment, he can show great depth, even mellow his pungent tone with time.  A worthy peer, indeed.

line of garlic

Okra – Strong, of firm build, this one likes it hot and enjoys it spicy—very at home in the Big Easy, too.  Generally speaking, he blends well with others, can plant himself anywhere, but caution:  he can be seedy, even a bit slimy at times.

Potatoes – These fellas are generous producers, enjoyed by most everyone as they appeal to a variety of tastes.  They can get easily crowded, though, so give them plenty of space.  If you do, you’ll have yourself a real winner with this one.  Note:  be patient with the sweeter types—they need a little more time before they’re ready to hit the dinner-date table.  But if you can wait, go for it.  You’ll reap the gold with this gem!

Onion – Sometimes sharp, sometimes sweet, this notable companion enhances every dish he meets.  But don’t be fooled.  You have to watch yourself around this double-edged treat.  He tends to “age” those around him quicker than most, and will often make you cry.  But if you like a challenge, give him a try.  He will infuse your life with flavor!

Raspberry – Sweet at first sight, this guy may follow up with a tart bite.  He generally likes to be left alone—literally thrives out in the wild of nature.  Ah…an adventurous type yourself, you’ll feel drawn to this bright and colorful character, but be forewarned:  he’s got thorns and lots of them.

school squash and corn

Squash – Talk about diversity, this one has it!  From sunny yellow summers to cold and cozy winters, this man will keep you well supplied no matter the season.  The cutest of pumpkins, he’s always welcome during the holidays, and his cousin plays a mean racquet ball—for you sportier types.  But keep him moving; stagnation easily leads to illness with this one.  Rest assured, if variety is your thing, take heart.  This dazzling character can fulfill your desires, tenfold.

Carrots – Bred from firm and solid fiber, these men are steady and strong and always there for you.  Given proper attention, they can also become quite sweet in nature; a true hidden treasure, if ever there was one.  They do need some elbow room, exhibit a bit of thinning at times, but if you’re willing to work for it, this one’s a keeper!

carrots-anyone

Beets – Down to earth is putting it mildly with this guy—he’s knee deep in it!   Quiet, mellow, well-rounded…  It’s a wonder he doesn’t rank top of the list for every woman in town.  Perhaps he can come on a bit strong, in an easy-going sort of way.  But if you have thick skin and like to keep it real?   This one’s for you.

Lettuce – This boy likes everybody and everybody likes him.  Similar to the granola-type male, this fella stays healthy and fit, slim and trim.  How could he be anything else?  He has a knack for blending well with any crowd and blend well, though be careful—once he mingles, it’s hard to separate him from the mix!

lush lettuce

Tomatoes – This popular guy is an all around favorite with the ladies, most drawn to his bright and cheery appearance and radiant personality.  A real reliable kind of guy, sweet with a hint of tang, meaty and quite robust—he comes in all sizes.  Yes, this one is tempting.  Be sure you’re in for the commitment—he’s going to need it if you expect him to produce.

school tomatoes

My husband?  He’s definitely a raspberry with garlic tendencies, yet aging like a carrot.

Me?  He claims I’m a Venus flytrap.  Yes, I gave him the evil eye—at first.  But then, I got to thinking.  Imagine the unique and stunning plant for a moment, with her beautiful red, heart-shaped petiole, her pair of symmetrical lobes hinged near the midriff—I mean, midrib.

Lovely so far, isn’t it?  Catches insects and spiders with a bat of her eyelashes.  Tolerates fiery tempers—er, fire well.  Tolerates fire well.   Actually uses the flames to suppress the competition around the neighborhood.  (Sounds like a feisty gal to me!)  Sure, she can be difficult to grow, but what plant doesn’t have its difficult days?  You know, the more I think about it, the more I heard compliment.

The Sweet Smell of Dirt

Is there anything sweeter than the smell of dirt? I don’t mean the dirt in my garden, or the dirt and dust of outdoor living. No, I’m talking about the sweet scent of dirt that clings to my son on a daily basis, the aroma that hovers about him, follows him as he runs through the house at top speed, leaps over sofas in a single bound, jumps, twists in mid-air as he pushes off from an armrest managing a karate chop and kick before landing on his feet.

My son is amazing.  He smells like dirt and a myriad of other things I (thankfully) cannot identify, nor do I want to know their origin.  He dots the house on a regular basis with his tale-tell markings, adding to my list of things to clean.  But it all becomes irrelevant when he careens through the room, throws himself onto the seat beside me and wraps his skinny little arms around my neck. The boy can hug like the coziest of bears!  He snuggles close, wedges his toes between my legs (to become at one with me, I think), flashes that brilliant toothless smile and says, “Hi, Mommy.”

Warm ripples of love shoot straight out from my heart.  Short and sweet, he gets right to the point.  I’d expect nothing less from my little man-in-training (his father’s not big on love talk, either). Full of life, packed with love, he wants nothing more than to be with his mother–at the moment.

The minute Dad walks in it will be game over for Mom.  Like boys and bikes, fishing and skateboards, I don’t stand a chance when it comes to him and his dad. 

But that’s okay.  I’m a realist. I accept the realities of male-bonding and sashay right around them.  After all, he’s helpful in the garden and helpful in the kitchen–after the friendly reminder to wash his hands.

Bright and energetic, boys are quick and sharp and they do love their mothers.  After all, it’s my name he calls out in the middle of the night.  It’s my side of the bed he seeks during the pre-dawn light.  It’s my cheerful face he searches for in pick up line after school. 

So each night, as he scrambles from my lap en route for his father, I let him go.  Good practice for later.  For one day he will love another woman, cherish and adore her (and call his mother once a week, if he knows what’s good for him!) and I will no longer be the center of his universe. 

But until then, I’ll happily remain the love of his life.  And the feeling is mutual, dirt devils and dust bunnies, my boy is decidedly adorable–stink and all!

When the Last Petal Falls

The tears continue.  Recently, a friend of mine passed away, the conclusion to a long battle with cancer.  While a blessing for her in the end, her death marks the beginning of new challenges for her family.  Especially her children.

While adults understand that with every beginning comes an end, life is a cycle…  Kids don’t.  Not really.  In their tangible view of the world, they find it difficult to wrap their minds around the abstract; the intangible.

Discussing the topic of death with my seven-year-old son, specifically the need for sensitivity in our words and gestures, he replied with bold-faced innocence, “But Mom—when you die, I’m going to wear bright colors and have a party.”

His sister vehemently intervened.  “You’re going to be happy if Mom dies?”

 I knew where he was going with this line of reasoning—she didn’t.

“What?” he asked, offended by her tone.  “I’ll always have her in my heart.  She just won’t have her body anymore.”

My daughter was appalled by his logic.  But I pulled him into a hug.  Maybe kids do understand.  More than we think.

Granted we understand speculating on the issue and actually living without your mother are two very different things, something my son cannot possibly understand — it’s a concept difficult for adults to grasp — but he was engaged in thought, trying to make sense of it.  Yet how does one make sense of it?  My friend was young.  It was too soon.  Her family needs her. 

Life doesn’t always make sense.  It doesn’t seem fair.  It’s not right a beautiful woman with so much to live for should die.  But they do.  Good and wonderful people pass from this earth everyday.

“But Mom, maybe God needed more angels.”

I peered at him and a smile formed on my lips.  “You may be right.  And He couldn’t have asked for a better one.”

Taking a deep breath, I give pause.  I look around me and work to understand that life is a trial.  It’s a lesson in acceptance.  It’s a cycle of birth, blossom, decline and death. 

A spirit has returned home.  Her memory will endure.  Her love is everlasting — it will live in the hearts of those she loved and those who loved her.  Questioning “why” doesn’t seem to matter.  Moving forward does.  Together, those of us who held her dear will carry her with us and continue forward on this journey called life.

Pick me! Pick me!

It’s springtime.  The season when winter eases its chokehold, the ground softens, making way for new growth.  Buds burst open and leaves unfurl, as young flowers mature into their blossoms.

Nestled together in the garden, it’s not long before the inevitable comparisons arise.  Each amazing and breathtaking in their own right, they can’t help but wonder how they measure up against the whole.

“Are my petals too plump?

“Do these leaves make my bottom look wide?”

Of course not.  You’re beautiful.

“You’re just saying that because you’re my gardener, aren’t you?”

Then it happens.  The handsome stranger strolls along and spritzes the crowd with a mist of attention.  The bed goes crazy.  Everyone brightens, arching further toward the admirer, each hoping to be noticed.  “Pick me.  Pick me!”

He leans over and plucks you by the stem, taking you home for his own.  You’ve been chosen as the most beautiful bloom, a stand out among the crowd, worthy of being taken home for display.

But you despair.  You’re alone.  You find yourself perched on a pedestal.  No longer surrounded by your colorful counterparts, once admired by many, you’re now occupied by one.  Passersby gawk and exclaim, but rarely linger.  Why would they?

You’re taken.  Chosen

You glance around, and wonder, “What are the others doing?” Are they basking in the sun?  Adorned by bees and butterflies?  Or swaying to the breeze, wild and free.

Why so sad?  Isn’t this what you wanted?  Weren’t you feeling cramped, lost among the cluster of your peers?  Didn’t you yearn to be deemed most lovely?  Most desirable?

Well, sure…in so many words.  We all want to be “picked,” cherished as the most beautiful, perfect creation of all.   Doesn’t it follow that we should be ecstatic when clipped free from the crowd?  Aren’t we supposed to be happy?

Yes and no.  If your petals were chosen to express love, then yes.  But if they were chosen to be displayed like a trophy…then no.  What’s the point?

Odd to compare girls to flowers, I know.  But as my daughter grows and blossoms, I can’t help but see the similarities.  While toiling away in the garden, weeding and pruning, mulching and fertilizing, I feel a swell of anticipation —  it’s spring!  The time for renewal and growth, blossoms and beauty –

And my daughter’s birthday.  Time passes so quickly, she’s maturing so fast.  It seems like only yesterday she was a little girl.  But now, she’s heading toward adolescence and the change is remarkable.  She’s blossoming toward her teenage years, flowering into womanhood.

And I worry.  She’s feeling the pinch of the crowd, the snip of comparison.  How do I reassure her of her glorious and unique qualities?  Remind her she is an extraordinary, oxygen-breathing, life-creating creature to behold?  An integral piece in the cycle of life? 

I want to tell her: rejoice in your color and shape.  Embrace the length of your stems, the breadth of your petals.  While they may differ from others, they all work the same.  Ultimately, our physical parts all perform the same tasks.

Yes, indulge in the sunshine, reach for the sky, bask in the attention of your admirers — but be wary the gardener interested in clipping your beauty for his own.  If your blooms must be taken, aim for love.  A rose shared between hearts lasts a lifetime.  Cuttings die within days. 

Consider instead, the bees.  They’re willing to work hard for your nectar!  And rather than selfish, their goal is worthy; seeking the highest and best good.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the gardener willing to spritz you with attention, just keep in mind some spritzers carry toxic substances.  At first glance, they appear harmless, but upon closer inspection, the poison is revealed.  But then again, my sweet, you were so focused on being noticed…

Please.  Take your time.  Allow nature to take its course.  You’ll be happier in the end.

If your man were a plant, he’d be…

Corn – Tall and slender with silken hair, this man provides well and yields a harvest of golden treasure.  While pleasing to look at, beware:  he also tends to be needy; easily blown over by the slightest of breezes—not the man for your hardier types!

Watermelon – This well-rounded fun-loving guy is always welcome at a summer barbecue and usually proves a big hit with the kids.  Prone to balding, his colorful personality distracts one from notice.  However, take heed.  If left to his own device, this one can grow wild and get quite out of hand!

Garlic – This fellow is somewhat distant, as he spends long periods of time out of sight, only to emerge when conditions improve.  Strong and distinct, he’s not for everyone, but given the right environment, he can show great depth, even mellow his pungent tone with time.  A worthy peer, indeed.

Okra – Strong, of firm build, this one likes it hot and enjoys it spicy—very at home in the Big Easy, too.  Generally speaking, he blends well with others, can plant himself anywhere, but caution:  he can be seedy, even a bit slimy at times.

Potatoes – These fellas are generous producers, enjoyed by most everyone as they appeal to a variety of tastes.  They can get easily crowded, though, so give them plenty of space.  If you do, you’ll have yourself a real winner with this one.  Note:  be patient with the sweeter types—they need a little more time before they’re ready to hit the dinner-date table.  But if you can wait, go for it.  You’ll reap the gold with this gem!

Onion – Sometimes sharp, sometimes sweet, this notable companion enhances every dish he meets.  But don’t be fooled.  You have to watch yourself around this double-edged treat.  He tends to “age” those around him quicker than most, and will often make you cry.  But if you like a challenge, give him a try.  He will infuse your life with flavor!

Raspberry – Sweet at first sight, this guy may follow up with a tart bite.  He generally likes to be left alone—literally thrives out in the wild of nature.  Ah…an adventurous type yourself, you’ll feel drawn to this bright and colorful character, but be forewarned:  he’s got thorns and lots of them.

Squash – Talk about diversity, this one has it!  From sunny yellow summers to cold and cozy winters, this man will keep you well supplied no matter the season.  The cutest of pumpkins, he’s always welcome during the holidays, and his cousin plays a mean racquet ball—for you sportier types.  But keep him moving; stagnation easily leads to illness with this one.  Rest assured, if variety is your thing, take heart.  This dazzling character can fulfill your desires, tenfold.

Carrots – Bred from firm and solid fiber, these men are steady and strong and always there for you.  Given proper attention, they can also become quite sweet in nature; a true hidden treasure, if ever there was one.  They do need some elbow room, a bit of thinning at times, but if you’re willing to work for it, this one’s a keeper!

Tomatoes – This popular guy is an all around favorite with the ladies, most drawn to his bright and cheery appearance and radiant personality.  A real reliable kinda guy, sweet with a hint of tang, meaty and quite robust–he comes in all sizes.  Yes, this one is tempting.   But be sure you’re in for the commitment—he’s going to need it if you expect him to produce.

My husband?   He’s definitely a raspberry with garlic tendencies.  Me?   He thinks I’m a venus flytrap.  Yes, I gave him the evil eye–at first.   But then, I got to thinking.   Imagine the unique and stunning plant for a moment, with her beautiful red, heart-shaped petiole, her pair of symmetrical lobes hinged near the midriff — I mean, midrib.    Lovely so far, isn’t it?   Catches insects and spiders with a bat of her eyelashes.   Tolerates fiery tempers well, er–fire–well.  Tolerates fire well, using the opportunity to suppress the competition.   (Sounds like a feisty gal to me!)   Sure, she can be difficult to grow, but what plant doesn’t have its difficult days?

You know, the more I think about it, the more I do believe I heard compliment.

We take it where we can get it, don’t we?

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

 

Superwoman lands in the garden!

The other day, my daughter and I were working a row of weeds.  Actually several rows, but since I promised her we’d only tackle one row a day — the trick to securing her continued return — I was doing the bulk of the weeding.  Which I don’t mind.  Surrounded by sprouts and vegetables in varying stages of growth, I feel productive.  And all the better: I’m not folding clothes.  So life is good!

It was a warm, but beautiful day when she rose from her aisle of hay and exclaimed, “All done!”

The relief on her face was too funny – and predictable – and I couldn’t help but tease, “Already?  Wow.”  I surveyed her handiwork.  “You’re amazing.  How about another?”

Mom,” she replied sternly, slapping a dirt-covered hand to her hip.  “You promised.  Only one row.”

“I know, I know.”  I chuckled.  “It was worth a try.”  Dismissed, she trotted off to find her brother.

Only to return an hour later.  Kneeling down in the row beside me, she began to pick at weeds.  I glanced at her, surprised.  “What are you doing?  I thought you were finished weeding.”

“I am,” she reassured.  “But I’m bored, so I thought I’d come help.”

I sat back on my heels.  “You’re always welcome to help.  In fact,” I added, “I like being in the garden with you, just us girls.”

This drew a smile from her, but she maintained focus on her task.  I resumed my leaf pluck expedition down a line of eggplant, and together we worked in silence.

Until she murmured, “Mom, you are Superwoman.”

My heart sung!  My spirit soared!  “Superwoman?”  I tried to conceal my glee. I mean — could it be trueShe finally noticed?

She nodded.

Warmed by the sentiment, I smiled, flattered she noticed.  It’s because I’ve devoted my life to you, isn’t it?  I’ve signed on to be Girl Scout leader, always offer to be school volunteer, I’m ever the reliable athletics chaperone…

Basking in the glow of my daughter’s admiration, my imagination flittered about, enthralled with a sense of validation, honor, and the glorious reward for my years of dedication.  I lost all sense of good judgment and replied, “That’s so sweet.  But you know, baby doll, I’m not Superwoman.”  I didn’t want her to invest any time in unrealistic goals and expectations for herself, her future, so I told her, “I’m just a woman, doing what she loves.”

Her expression twisted in confusion.  “You love weeding?”

I pulled back.  “Weeding?”  Now we were both confused.  “No…”  My hands fell to my sides, and landed in dirt.  “I was referring to your Superwoman comment.”

“Oh.”

“Why did you say I was Superwoman?” I asked, but could feel the hoe slicing through the air, its blade headed straight for me.

“Cause you have endurance!  I don’t know any mom who could weed as much as you!”

Ouch.  Bubble-filled fantasies popped.  My ego deflated.  Humidity clung to my skin like a wet noodle.  There’s a kick in the rear.

But as those innocent green eyes held me in their gaze, I knew I couldn’t be upset.  I had to take her at her word — the one she meant to be a compliment.  And while it may not have been the one I had hoped, it was her own, and wholly genuine.  Heartfelt.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

mother-daughter love

Rising from my knees, I walked over and placed a kiss on the top of her head.  “Thank you, baby.  I appreciate that, and it was kind of you to say.”

She beamed, pleased with herself.  I grinned, heartened by her self-contentment.  Both of us were satisfied with the moment, the kind which may prove scarce as she grows into adolescence.

So me, I took my lump of sugar when and where I could — as any smart mother would.  One never knows when the next batch will arrive!