July 2017, a reflection…………

I’d like to dedicate this post to Otto Warmbier.  I am not going to take a political stance on this at all, that is not my intention.  Instead, I am coming solely from the view point of a parent. 

Anyone who is a parent knows that there is an undisputed unifying bond that connects us all.  We feel it the day that newborn is laid into our arms, we are immediately, undeniably forever changed.  Life continues and we develop a common sympathy with other parents regarding their trials and tribulations.  How many of us remember that feeling of handing your child the car keys for the first time??  To those of us with a son, or sons, teenage or young adult – how common those ambitious, beautiful (like Otto), ‘eager to take on adventure’ and also ‘quick to accept a dare’, wrapped up with a lot of naivete and a little bit of ‘crazy’, young men.  Believe me, I’ve got one!  That said, there is another even stronger parental connection, it is the one that unites all those who have lost a child.  Our connection is deep, we instinctively know the tremendous amount of “grief work” the other has gone through or is about to embark upon.  We are connected across the physical miles by human compassion and pain.  We can physically feel the angst of other parents over and over again, each time we hear of tragedy……it never goes away.   I followed Otto’s ordeal from the very first day he was ever mentioned in the news.  I worried for him every day and wondered if anyone else did as well.  I felt as he were my son and I was another one of his parents.  So imagine my elation when that boy returned home.  And like any other parent, hope against hope, prayed for a miraculous recovery that was not to be had.  I felt the life pass from my body once again, when I heard the news that Otto was gone to us all.  To see the Warmbiers enduring such heartache and exhibiting such grace before the world was crushing.  Then the inevitable onslaught of opinions – some unfortunately, negative.  And here is my very point.  How many of us look back at our younger selves and wish we could erase some of the “less than smart” things we’ve done.  How many of us have young adults – sons or daughters, that take risks we’d rather they didn’t.  It is a parents’ duty to raise our children as strong, compassionate, respectful individuals, with a good moral compass and enough sense to make good choices.  Then slowly we sense their need for independence and we have to step back and allow them to fail, learn from their mistakes and eventually soar.  It doesn’t take a lot of insight to see that the Warmbier’s did that job with perfection.  I don’t personally know the Warmbiers, but I know them well enough as a parent that if they could change anything to avoid what happened to their dear son they would in an instant without any hesitation.  And as time will ever so slowly soften and dull the sharp ache they have now, eventually they will come to accept that ache as part of them, because oddly enough, that ache will connect them to Otto.  I strongly discourage becoming a ‘blame seeker’, it serves no purpose.  Instead look inside yourselves and imagine if these circumstances were your own.  Have human sympathy for the Warmbier family and remember Otto simply, like so many families, as their beautiful son and brother. Peace.

June 2017

The birds around my home don’t waste any time preparing to raise their families!  I’ve already seen one robin build her nest, lay her eggs, raise her brood of 3 and watched them all tentatively leave the nest – success!  I found this little nest just the other day.  I’ve been watching a tiny chipping sparrow nesting for a few weeks, then one day there they were, 3 barely 1 day old little ones.  Yes, I know the picture is a little fuzzy and it’s difficult to make out who’s in there, but mom was not happy at me hanging around for pictures.  June is here, the days are longer and thank goodness, because there are always those “getting ready for summer” chores to take care of. I like to really muscle through the “to-do’s” so that I don’t have projects hanging over me all summer.  Time to get the garden planted if you haven’t done so already, clean off the patio furniture and fire up the grill.  Enjoy the beauty of the season and the warmer days.

May 2017

My mothers’ gorgeous wisteria

It seems we always associate the month of May with flowers.  May day, Mother’s Day, all celebrated with beautiful fresh blossoms.  Regardless of what the calendar says, May can still bring with it several cold and rainy days and we certainly are having our fair share.  But as with anything, ‘hope springs eternal’ and with it comes the certainty that by the end of the month there will be plenty of blooms.  From fruit trees, bulbs and flowering bushes, nature will be ablaze with color.  I’ve been to my favorite haunts already procuring hanging baskets and other flowers to fill my pots and gardens, even though I’ve had to put them in a safe corner to protect from the occasional threat of frost!  I’ll be buying vegetable plants for the kitchen potager as well pretty soon, but will wait to put them in the ground until very late May.  Time to start dreaming of warm summer days around the corner.  Until then, enjoy the beauty of spring!

April 2017

Aaaahh spring.  I believe it is rare to find someone who doesn’t love spring.  As I have mentioned before, we really are weekend warrior winter people with active competing skiers in a few disciplines, and as much as I love our ‘winter life’, I love that first day when you can actually smell spring in the air.  That earthy warm, just past a spring shower smell.  Regardless, here in the northeast April can play “April Fools” all month long weather-wise and we never completely rule out a possible snow storm.  The only thing for certain is that the winter is truly over and not even the late April snow will stick around.  If you havn’t kept to your new years’ promises, this is a good month to push the reset button.  Also a great month to start dreaming of the garden projects, plantings and such.  In the meantime, get outside and enjoy the sounds of all the returning birds.  Spring is here!

March 2017

“Is it spring yet??”

So many things can be said for March…. The beginning to the end (of winter that is), the luck of the Irish, etc.  While it is always nice to know we are that much closer to April, make no mistake, despite the rash of warm days we have been having, winter still has it’s icy grip on the northeast.  This really is our final month of winter (even though we can easily entertain snow in April), for me it is always bittersweet. March is very much like August, hanging on to the last of those finest of days, knowing the end is inevitable before we have to embrace the next season. Our weekend warrior skiing days will come to an end and with that we say goodbye to our mountain friends until we meet again in November.  We will hang up the skis and put away the snowshoes and begin to think about warmer weather pursuits.  Whatever your definition of March, like time itself, it is fleeting.

February 2017

I captured this picture while out for my early morning walk.  The sun just seemed somewhat different, a little brighter against the crisp blue sky.  I recognized that light – the indicator of the sun getting just a little warmer, the days just a little longer.  Just barely perceptible changes, but enough to notice regardless.  Yes, winter is definitely still here and having a strong hold on us all, but somehow February just seems that much closer to the warmer days ahead.  I like to take care of projects and business inside the house this time of year.  Organize pictures into albums, clean out files, etc.  Things that always need to be done, but somehow never get that attention once the spring is here.  An acquaintance of mine was scanning the seed catalogs, planning what was going to be new to the garden this summer.  Yes, February is that month that puts us just a little closer to the end of winter.

January 2017

Aaaahhhh, January.  The serene stillness, much like the picture of the abandoned sleigh above, a reminder of the joyous festivities just past.  January is a great month for taking stock.  Fresh starts and promises for the coming year. The word “resolution”, comes with so much pressure, almost a set-up for failure.  Instead  make this the month you choose to do something just for yourself.  It doesn’t have to be a year-long commitment.  Just something that will enhance your happiness.  Refresh a room in your home.  Tackle some challenging recipes.  Try writing (a forgotten art!), or even painting, take a walk on a quietly snowy morning – without ear buds!  You’ll be amazed at how something simple and/or creative can affect your well-being.  Your inner joy will be evident to your family and those around you as well.  Embrace the calmness of January.

December 2016

Photo blurfair.blogspot

As the song goes, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year….” , and it truly is.  Something about playing those time and again traditional Christmas carols that instantly put the mood into the holiday.  I, like so many, have my traditions and one of them is to put up the Christmas tree and decorations the day after Thanksgiving.  This process usually takes a couple of long days, but the result is worth it.  My motto has always been to get the “work” out of the holidays.  I get my shopping done before Thanksgiving, have the greeting cards printed and ready and put aside and then sit back and enjoy every minute of the beautiful season that is upon us.  So many of us are put off by the hustle and bustle, but I say it doesn’t have to be so. I have tips in my ‘entertaining’ section for making holiday dinners stress free.  A little advance planning goes a long way and I encourage you to try it out for yourself. Make all of December your holiday.  Live in the moment and remember to enjoy the magic of the season.  I wish you all a peaceful holiday season.

November 2016

The days here In the northeast have become markedly colder.  The trees are rapidly shedding their final leaves, and the squirrels are very busy scampering through the yards, burying their stashes here and there.  Winter is on it’s way.  November for me is a month of preparation for the holidays to come.  I am one of those who do all their shopping before Thanksgiving.  Not because I’m trying to beat everyone to the finish, definitely not.  I do it so that I can actually sit back and enjoy the beauty of the season.  I despise the retail pressure.  It seems as though as soon as Halloween is over the race is on for the Christmas season.  Unfortunate.  Personally my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  I love the whole day preparation of food, the company and the coziness.  It’s a wonderful holiday of gratefulness and togetherness.  Take time this month to plan ahead ways to make your holidays less stressful.  Enjoy the last of these autumn days, the snow will be falling soon enough!

October 2016

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the summer ends and suddenly it’s autumn.  One day it’s still quite warm, then one day we wake and there is that familiar nip in the air.  That quiet signal from nature, that cool barely perceptible little breeze that whispers, fall is on it’s way.  I found this leaf walking my youngest down the driveway to catch the school bus.  One of the first to fall, almost perfect and a warm crimson.  It has sprouted from its’ wintry cocoon, worked hard all summer to fuel the tree, put on fall attire for it’s final act and then released itself from the tree to fall to the ground.  Cycle of life.  Hope and promise for another spring.  We take our cues from nature, time to button up, prepare for the days and busy seasons ahead.  We make our homes cozy. Warm and delicious smells waft from the kitchen.  Time to pull out the sweaters, go outside and take in all the glorious last colors and the best October has to offer.