SPRING FEVER: For many, those two words conjure up the feeling of falling in love but I see these two words as a reignited passion for life! I feel the urge for longer walks, and more moments bird-watching to witness the returning or ‘passing through’ winged residents. I find myself cleaning out disorganized closets and emptying sheds. Leftover Easter ham is being cherished down to every last morsel into pasta casseroles and various soups. Curtains and blinds are fully opened and windows have been cleaned of their winter dust.
I am feeling fresh and sprite too as I’m drawn to wearing my brightest colours. My usual choices of blues, greens or browns have been replaced by tops and scarves in purple, pink, yellow and orange. Buying cut-flowers at the store feels like more of a necessity than an extravagance as my spirit longs for growing things. As if to oblige all three of my indoor Christmas Cactus are quickly becoming covered with their spectacular orchid-like blooms, and an African Violet in the front window has more purple than green as it keeps sending up more and more blooms.
Just this past weekend my heart soared with the temperatures when my hubby was able to at last remove the last of the ice-hardened snowpack heaped on a corner of our concrete patio that I’ve been looking at out the kitchen window since October! Five months of only being able to imagine exactly where the edge of the patio meets the garden area. Five months of being reminded of the long snowy winters and short, fast summers where I live. Well, that short fast summer is approaching at break-neck speed and I’m filled with energy to ‘hit the ground running’.
Garden Floor Plans have been drawn and lists compiled. There are certain perennials that need to be moved, primarily away from the hot sun at the front of the yard facing south, and into the cooler, more shaded area at the back of the yard. Now mind you, the ground is still frozen and only the very toughest plants are starting to show hints of green, so pre-planning is all I can do. Well that and neatening the garden: pulling off the covering mulch and cutting back last year’s dead plant matter. The lovely ladybugs scramble as they are shaken awake. I say Hello and carefully work around them as they hurry away. I send them love and hope they won’t go too far.
When it’s time to take a break and come indoors, the delicious aroma of Lentil-Pea-Ham soup greets me from the crockpot. Yesterday’s hearty Ham & Corn Chowder is nearly already devoured by the family. Hopefully today’s soup will be as well received.
I wanted to share a glimpse into my bustling ‘spring fever’ days here in early April, when the mild winds are pushing small white clouds across a bright blue sky. The temperatures are warming through the day and even staying above freezing at night (barely but 2 Celsius is good for me!). So I say Thank You God for another spring day, and thank you to all of you cherished readers for encouraging me to pause a moment and share about my day. May your day be filled with energizing spring breezes and a deep sense of gratitude that wells up and fills your heart to overflowing. Life is Good! Namaste.
I wish these photos were from my garden! These are wallpaper images off Google.
I have spent the entire day outdoors working in the garden and I have loved every moment. Rebuilding our front yard fence, pruning out the dead limbs in the old overgrown lilac, breaking the branches down to a neat kindling pile, setting up our summer fountain, repairing a bird feeder, and proving a push-mower really can cut thick long grass if you’re willing to go over it a few times. Loving the tasks, and remaining in the present moment. Being thankful for bumblebees, butterflies and songbirds swooping all around me. I am happily tired and truly satisfied with a good day’s work. I will sleep well tonight. Physical exertion plus the outdoors is a perfect prescription for sleeping through the night.
“There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.” ~ Mirabel Osler
Several years ago I made up my mind: I was finished with tenting. As much as I adore camping and being out there immersed in wind, sun, rain, trees, and fresh air… the lumpy mattress woes and worries of elk tripping and spooking on the tent cords had done me in. It was time to move on up! It was time for a truck and camper.
I knew I was looking at older trucks because I had a very limited budget. I’ve always had a fondness for rugged tough-as-nails trucks anyways. The first standard I learned on at the tender age of 12 was a big ol’ green truck with a stick-shift on the floor. I asked if I could, so my dad got me started and I was more than eager to drive around that harmless pasture. He knew that tough truck could easily handle my occasional stalls and mis-gears. So when it came to searching out a treasure with my twenty-five hundred dollars, I was completely ready to find a tough old truck.
After scouring ads in the papers for weeks, I noticed a phone number being repeated in many ads. After calling I learned they were a small business purchasing old fleets when businesses were upgrading. I headed their way and drove my car into the rough and bumpy lot. Poor car. This lot was much better suited to a truck. There were dump trucks and flatbeds and pick-up trucks everywhere, scattered about in a rough semblance of a parking lot. As I pulled in I wondered how or where I’d find ‘Jim’ the friendly fellow I’d spoken with on the phone. But as I parked next to a hap-hazard row of trucks, a large kindly man approached my car, wiping his hands on a rag. Reminded me of my dad, except subtract many years.
With my tight budget there were only three trucks that day and I still remember them all. A black and red automatic Ford, with a topper and a few ‘bells & whistles’ like power windows and “Tasmanian Devil” accessories and mats. Not feelin’ it. Next truck: a green Chevrolet bench seat automatic. Long box. Very plain, no personality. How else to say it? This wasn’t the one. Finally, the last one, a bit over budget since they were hoping to get $3K for it, but maybe if I could do $2600, was a white giant that drew my eye the moment I drove onto the lot. As we walked closer to this Chevrolet Cheyenne 2500, I saw it had a bumper sticker with a photo of a coyote and a speed limit sign, with the words: “Slow down. Their lives depend on it.” I loved it already. As I walked around the side to open the driver’s door, I could see the glue remnants of the PARKS CANADA letters wearing off the rear side window. This was feeling more like my truck.
I pulled the door open and it groaned and squeaked and asserted its weight as it clunked open. The terribly torn seat on the front corner of the driver’s side didn’t faze me one bit, even though I was in shorts on that hot August day. I ignored the torn corner and eagerly slid behind the huge steering wheel. It was a standard, with 4-on-the-floor… and a 4×4. What joy! I felt an impulse I can hardly describe, that I somehow knew this truck was perfect for me… just what I’d been looking for to haul landscaping supplies and later, to haul my camper once I found one. Jim handed me the keys, unable to hide his surprise at my enjoyment of this big beauty. A ¾ ton crew-cab with the back seat and stereo ripped out. A huge spare tire with change-kit filled the space behind the split-bench front seat. I didn’t care about anything except that I loved it. Having been a government fleet vehicle, it had been very well cared for. I took it for a test-drive, and my teen son who’d accompanied me on this adventure of truck shopping, enjoyed how it beeped when in reverse as if it was a REALLY big truck.
I bought that big beauty that day. While I strive to live ‘green’ and do what I can to conserve and reduce consumption… I adore my big truck. The small, energy efficient car is used for the travels around the city we have to make. The truck sits and waits for special occasions. Summertime projects such as moving rocks for the garden, moving things for loved ones, and camping. Ah camping, that glorious time to enjoy our own little spot of wilderness. Which I enjoy immensely with my reliable truck and the nice second-hand camper I bought after the truck. I am truly blessed. Thank you God. I give thanks for living near the Rocky Mountains and for the gorgeous campgrounds only an hour from my home. I give thanks for the cozy bed and snug security in my little ‘portable’ home. And I especially give thanks for that wonderful old truck of mine.
Image source: Seth Duffey photos www.leavethatthingalone.com
Today the weather is cool and grey. Spring is pressing a heavy white sky down with imminent rain that just keeps waiting. I wish it would fall. My mood always perks up when the spring showers start. Maybe I’m like a plant that way. When the rain starts I shall take my dog for a walk. Let us both feel the rain in our hair.
Today my heart is brimming with hope. The weather outside is cool and grey and I am filled with ideas. And hope. This is a great day to work from home with design and writing, and to take a wee sidetrack seeking out other positive thinkers. I am finding them everywhere I look! Wonderfully amazing websites and blogs filled with inspirational ideas and beautiful images. I want to fill my site with links to these wonderful people sharing their hearts and their souls. This is a great year. I can feel it. Things are improving everywhere I look.
I know I am an optimist. I do see the glass half full. I know the sun is always shining, even when I cannot see it behind the clouds.
I choose to live this way because without hope, without looking for the bright and the good, well I’d hardly be able to get out of bed. And while I still have tough times, my morning gratitude ritual has helped immensely. Even if I can hardly say more, I can always say: Thank you God, for this day. As Dr. Wayne Dyer writes of, I do not want to merely cope. I want to thrive. I choose to shine!
Life is a wondrous miraculous gift,
Remembering this gives my spirits a lift;
Raising me out of my worldly mind,
Helping me feel peaceful and kind;
I let go of what is cruel and untrue,
So my inner beauty may now shine through;
Claiming my birthright to be truly free,
Ignites within me a divine energy;
I now receive all the gifts that are mine,
The reason I’m here is to let myself shine!
As I let my love for life be unfurled,
I’m taking action towards healing the world.
Gina and Professions for PEACE © 2000-2012
Spring here in the prairies can be a dicey time for gardening. Some years there is drought. Some years the skies open and there’s a deluge. Rarely is there a happy medium. At least that’s what I’ve witnessed in my thirty-plus years of living in southern Alberta. During my formative years in BC’s Fraser Valley I was spoiled for the green lushness that happens from a constant drizzle. However I’d still rather live with occasional gardening dryness and have these bright blue skies!
So I gather water. Just knowing that there are people in other countries who have to walk for miles for water makes me give thanks for my supply everyday. I cannot bear to see water wasted. For me it’s second-nature to turn off the water while brushing teeth or soaping off these gardener’s hands of mine. When I want cold water for cooking or to boil for tea, I catch that pipe-rested water in jugs. When I run hot water for softening the senior cat’s kibble at mealtime, I always use a jug to capture that not-yet-hot-enough water. I can easily fill two 2L jugs a day, that’s a gallon of water that would’ve gone down the drain! As an avid gardener, there is always room to set aside a few watering jugs to await the watering time for plants.
I’ve heard of diligent water-conserving people that bring a clean bucket into the shower to catch excess water as it falls. I’m not there yet but I can see myself doing that soon. Rain barrels in my yard number two so I’m still conservative on that front as well, considering the combined downspouts of my house and garage equal five. Two down, three to go. I do have the beginnings of a significant rain garden underway to help prevent rainwater from running off the slope of my front yard and into the street. If left alone, a dry dead lawn with a slope to the street (like was here when we moved in) is a recipe for water-wasting disaster.
Municipal waterworks departments can become quickly inundated after heavy rains when water rushes off yards into gutters and drains. Then their systems can become so pressured that a portion of overflow water is released into rivers without proper treatment. Caused by too much water all at once. Rain water that is much better served being harnessed to hydrate a garden than splashing down the street. Even a small garden of tidy perennials positioned between house and street can help slow that potential runoff. My own garden is rather ‘natural’. Which is a nice way of admitting that it’s rather wild, and that’s the way I like it. Filled with tough plants that resist rabbit grazing, can handle the wild weather we get here, and generally thrive on neglect. They’re my favorites, my carefully selected zone-hardy drought-tolerant rabbit-resistant plants. They make me feel like a better gardener because they just grow and grow and grow. Bless their happy little leaves!
More to come on my gardening exploits here in future posts. But for now, here’s a wee ditty of a poem I wrote years ago to celebrate my enjoyment of rain. I hope you enjoy!
There is something special about spring showers,
When the rain goes on and on for hours,
Releasing with it Earth’s growing powers,
Soon to be shown in abundant flowers!
When, with joy, I feel rain on my face,
And, if hatless, through my hair it will trace,
Refreshing my spirit so I pick up my pace,
And remember with gratitude my love for this place!
Gina and Professions for P.E.A.C.E. © 2000-2012
Simple kindness is something I genuinely enjoy offering to others, and welcome it warmly. It is more magical and healing than we often admit. Even just a smile or kind word cause ripples out into the world, helping more than we know.
I will always remember a moment that happened one morning about 12 years ago as I faced another day at a horrible job. I trudged along, head down, my smile gone. As a financially strapped single mom, all I could do was pray every morning for the strength to endure and send out resumes every evening, like messages in a bottle thrown into the sea.
Nature is always my solace, so in the concrete jungle I look for trees and birds as I walk. The sidewalk was sloping down as it headed under the railway and I looked up to see if pigeons might be roosting and quietly cooing to each other in the rafters. As I wearily raised my head I saw a woman looking at me with a smile of pure sweetness. Bright teeth flashing at me in that dark depressing morning. Instinctively a smile slowly grew on my face to return the favor but she was already gone. Passed swiftly by me, leaving a lingering moment of kindness like a ray of sunshine piercing the gray. I felt touched, noticed by another person amongst all the pedestrian traffic, trudging along. She was like an angel, to know how much I needed that smile, but didn’t even know it myself. My spirits immediately lifted and I remembered the Truth: this hardship was temporary and I would get a better job.
The generous kindness of a stranger, giving me one of her smiles when mine were all gone, changed my world that day and will be remembered forever.
Much has been written about the healing power of gardening and I feel my rebuilt life is valid proof. To recover from a tragedy so encompassing that it changed the very essence of my naturally cheerful personality into one of quiet reclusiveness takes a near-miracle. For me, growing plants was the basis for that miraculous recovery.
Pulling myself out of bed and out of my house required great effort that spring of 2009. The nearby neighbourhood mall had erected a seasonal greenhouse in the parking lot and it drew me out of my shell like warm sunshine. While going to the store for groceries seemed to require great effort and had been the only event getting me out of the house, visiting that plastic Quonset soon became my panacea.
I felt heartbroken and heavy that spring, and I knew I could not force a quick healing. This was a wound that would take time to recover from. At least I was gentle with myself, although I suppose what I felt was apathetic acceptance more that gentleness towards myself. When it feels like the footing is ripped out from under oneself, balance is a long time returning. Those first forays into the greenhouse were not intended for purchasing anything, and I knew that. I only wanted to be around green things growing. And the temporary peace I felt in that place kept bringing me back, day after day. Getting me out of my house.
In the beginning, my visits consisted of wandering aimlessly up and down the two long aisles, allowing the images, sounds and smells in this tiny greenhouse to slowly wake up my numbed senses. The jungle-like mass of leaves of all shapes and sizes in every shade of green formed a backdrop for a riot of blooming colour. The water dripped steadily from recently watered overhead baskets, overflowing with petunias and lobelia. The clear plastic walls noisily flapped and strained with the spring breezes. Long black hoses snaked their way around and under the greenhouse tables, preventing easy passage for old ladies with carts. The rows of herbs, tomatoes, onions and squash at the back of the tent made me dream of growing my own food, until I heard an inner voice warn that I was still too broken for that kind of endeavor.
Plants of all sizes sat lined up and crowded together, waiting to go home with eager gardeners, novice and expert alike. Sometimes I would surreptitiously watch people picking out the plants of their choice and for a moment I would wonder about their garden. Was is large and established or were they just starting a new one? Were they going for a riot of vibrant colours or were they carefully staying within a select range of two or three colours? I felt myself begin to wish for the energy to garden again, as I had before the tragedy happened. And then, suddenly, as the wish stirred within me, I felt hope that I might someday actually have energy for something again. It had felt like a long time since I had even wished for anything.
In familiar silence I drove back to my home: my shelter, my cocoon. A tall wooden fence surrounded my back yard and I felt securely hidden and unseen. There was a bench under the ancient apple tree that I found myself sitting on after these trips to the greenhouse. I would just sit and listen to breezes and birds, and gaze at the thawing ground and dead plant matter amidst last year’s garden. I didn’t have the energy to cut back the old plants and clean up the garden. I just didn’t care enough.
I recall one particularly fateful day. The still-weak sunshine shone through the leafless branches and warmed my shoulders. I stared at the hateful sidewalk pavers shooting arrow-straight from my front gate to the rear one, and I longed more than ever for a graceful sweeping curve in that concrete path. With a sudden urge, I stood and placed my foot on a paver that rocked. I watched the corner move up and down as I applied my foot to it. Wondering how heavy this paver was, I grabbed my shovel and pried it under the loose corner. It was heavier than I expected and I quickly let it down to lay askew on the neighbouring paving stone. I squatted and wrestled to lift the stone up sideways. Then I backed out of the way and let it fall upside-down on the dead grass beside its original placement. The weight of the paver shook the hard ground with its impact. I felt a glimmer of pleasure at what I had done, and suddenly felt focused on a project: I would dig out these pavers and create a curve in my pathway!
With a hint of a smile on my face at the nearly-forgotten feeling of determination, I began flipping the heavy two-foot square concrete pavers out of their decades-old places, and into my long-desired curving shape. I worked for hours to move all twenty-four stones into their new locations atop the brown turf, until I was happy with the shape of the curve they made. As the sun passed the horizon and the day turned to evening, I went inside with a foreign sense of inner peace from both the physical exhaustion and a day spent forgetting about my heartache. I slept through the night for the first time in months.
I woke eager to see the new path. I stepped outside and my heart lifted at the curve in the path, but my back ached at the work still involved. The pavers now needed to be leveled and I would have to dig out sod. Stretching out the stiffness, I pulled on my gloves and got to work. This pathway project took days of work, and I felt a healing happening within me. This focus was replacing the emptiness that had enveloped me. There was feeling returning to my numbed spirit. As I envisioned an expanded garden here in my sleeping yard, my spirit began awakening. I cut back plant material and worked compost into the soil to prepare for a new season of growth. After a few days away, I returned to my little greenhouse haven with new resolve. I was at last ready to bring home a plant. Or two.
As it turned out, that summer my garden exploded with all the care and attention I bestowed upon it. Above the newly curving pathway I erected an eight-foot-tall lattice arbor I had built and planted Scarlet Runner Beans on both sides of the base. I divided and multiplied many of my existing perennials and added new ones. From the greenhouse I first brought home six Johnny Jump Up plants. The next day it was another Echinacea to be a companion to my current purple coneflower. Before long I was walking past those flapping plastic walls to the very end of the aisles. I found myself in the vegetable area examining tomatoes and chives. I brought home a pepper plant, two ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes, a container of chives and a zucchini plant. Within days I returned for a basil plant, then I added rosemary and thyme. A few days after that I came home with a flat of marigolds with their pungent aroma to help keep cats out of the raised veggie patch.
Every day that I could I spent from dawn to dusk in my garden that summer. Sometimes I would enjoy digging or weeding or moving a plant to a better spot in the garden. Other times I would just relax on the bench and gaze at all the life growing in my garden. I would enjoy the antics and calls of birds in the branches overhead, and would watch the activity in the hollyhock blooms, filled with bees gathering pollen. I gazed up at the tall arbor covered in leafy vines and smiled at the shade it provided. I relished the feeling of peace in my heart, and marvelled at how I was at last healing.
The memories and gratitude for that summer of gardening, and the healing it provided, will remain with me always.