Yesterday Lima was lucky to have missed the tornadoes that struck south of us. The grass around the frogs above show the toll the weather has taken this spring in this county. We’ve had too much rain, so much so that farm fields are full of puddles and last year’s harvest stubble.
This morning I dropped off my library books and walked through the Children’s Garden next door. This garden is a true treasure for all ages in this area. It’s staffed by master gardener and student volunteers. In all of my years visiting this place, I’ve yet to see a planting that isn’t pitch perfect, if I may stretch a term from music to landscaping.
I love to see the peonies in bloom here. This year I did not miss them. They remind me of the best part of a time long gone that I described in my post about houses with asphalt siding. During our five years in one of those crumbling, asphalt-sides houses, we enjoyed a massive classic lilac bush in the back yard, in whose wake a few peony bushes bloomed. The scent of those peonies was both light and dusky. We found newspapers from 1917-8 beneath the flooring in one of the rooms of that house. I imagined that the peonies had been planted by a woman with massive hair piled atop her head as was the fashion in those days. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she smelled just like the peonies in bloom.
This morning I lingered long enough waiting for a train to take the above picture with my phone. The house is the lone survivor of several demolitions on that block, and the number of homes with asphalt siding in Lima is dwindling.
I lived in a home with asphalt siding for several years while I was growing up. Spotting a similar house this morning somehow reminded me of something my mom once told me about ghosts. She said what may seem to be ghosts may actually be impressions left by people who are living. I myself believe that God allows us to see anything he feels we need to know, and it is possible that in his wisdom he may show us images of the living or the dead.
If our old house were haunted by our living selves, someone would see us as we were back in the mid-80’s. My hair would be bleached from a summer in the city pool, and the home perm I’d gotten on top of it would have accidentally given me Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” hairdo. Likewise, my sister would be studying the fallout from her home perm and wondering how soon she could rid herself of Barbara Streisand’s look from A Star is Born. My brother would be watching He-Man while my mom wondered how we were going to survive the rubber plant strike. My dad would be standing at the fridge, eating peanut butter straight from the jar. His cuticles and eyelashes would still be stained black from his work in that factory. My mom would be wearing the navy blue dotted shirt she wore most days for a whole year.
If I had the chance to see an echo of that scene, I’d know all over again that those were the days that made me. I’m happy with a working class job. No matter how many shirts I own, I usually end up rotating just a few of them until they wear out. I’m grateful that my growing up taught me that less can be more.
A liquid can assume the shape of any vessel in which it is stored, and this reservoir has curved borders since it would be strange indeed to find a reservoir with angled corners. I suppose a polygonal shape would be too weak to withstand the pressure that water exerts. And now I remember learning that a circle is a polygon with infinite sides, so a rounded corner could distribute the pressure and mass of water over more pressure points that can be easily counted.
All of the foregoing is a stream-of-consciousness related to my school days. The image above shows a place I gravitated toward during that era of my life. I’d go to this reservoir to walk alone and clear my mind, which was not so easy to do at that time given all of the angst and information that was stuffed into it during my teenage days.
I’d dream of what my life might be like once I was done with school. I’d imagine living in one of those apartments in that building with a view of the water. I’d have peace at a glance when I looked through the windows.
Eventually, I did move into an apartment with a balcony that overlooked a little lake (but not the one shown in this picture). I did feel peace when I looked out the windows. I lived there until my life became too large to fit in a two-bedroom apartment.
Thursday is near its expiration this week, but I thought I’d take a few minutes to reflect on the garden I tended ten years ago. At that time, my funds available for gardening were next to nothing, so I bought ten dollars worth of seed at our neighborhood dollar store. My daughter and I just sprinkled and raked all ten packets over a 15′ x 10′ plot in my parents’ back yard. We didn’t do much else in the way of maintenance other than keeping it watered and enjoying its parade of blooms. A couple of the packets were oddball mixes that contained a great variety of flowers, ranging from baby’s breath to black eyed susan.
During that summer, a few neighborhood kittens had regular adventures in this dense garden:
This was the last summer of my daughter’s early childhood. She started Kindergarten that fall, and I went to work full time during that school year. After that summer, our lives changed in ways that we could not have imagined. I met my husband. I found a job where I finally felt at ease at work, a job I still have to this day. We found a place of our own, where we lived for five years next to the little lake full of mallard ducks.
These pictures remind that we once reveled in simple pleasures and that our lives would only be better if we took the time to do so again.
The neighborhood wetlands are thriving in the wake of recent heavy rain. Gray-headed coneflower and its drooping petals are dominating that landscape. There were thousands of them in bloom as I walked through the wetlands this morning:
I also spotted chicory, which blooms in abundance around here, both in drought and heavy rain:
Every year when I first see chicory, I remember the summer of 1988, when so little rain fell that I worried it might be the only plant to survive. That was the summer my dad began working as a church groundskeeper, but the drought gave him no reprieve from mowing. The chicory was so abundant it could be mowed.
So far the summer has established a pattern of cloudy weekdays with sunny weekend mornings. I could use more sunshine during the week, but I hope the Saturday and Sunday light persists.
I didn’t move out of my parent’s house for good until I was well into my 30’s. I’d leave for a while and some fiasco or bout of ill health would lead me back. When I moved back for the last time with my daughter along, my parents had a few nickname-worthy neighbors.
One of them was a young man my family privately called David Koresh, who predictably lived on a property known as the Compound. David radiated a half-baked, cult-forming charisma but lacked the looks or vision to exploit this charm. There was a small but shifting cast of characters who’d frequent the Compound.
David tried starting several junking businesses without much luck. For a season, he collected appliances from various curbsides on garbage day, but these washers and the like would end up in pieces on his curb within a fortnight of their arrival.
Somehow he acquired a white cargo van (the kind my mom calls a serial killer van) that barely ran, and he decided that he’d convert it into a pick up for hauling pallets.
Here’s what the van looked like when it appeared at the Koresh Compound:
These pallets were to be made from salvage wood, i.e. hammering together good wood from broken pallets he’d recovered from who-knows-where.
I’d imagine that economy of scale doomed this venture. Some of my parents’ other neighbors could not tolerate the noise and debris from the van make-over. Within days of its transformation into a creeking pick up, the authorities determined it was not street legal (with pressure from the neighbors, of course).
The van/pick up was towed away shortly thereafter. I did take a couple pictures of this gem before it was gone:
Today I am lingering on some of the sights I captured on this morning’s photo walk at Kendrick Woods instead of doing a single post combining them all. I’d guess that this photo shows a wildflower close to a lupine, which reminds me of the experience that inspired me to photograph wildflowers.
Way back when hair was bigger and waists were higher (a phrase that brings to mind the best band name I ever heard, When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water), I won a scholarship to participate in an Earthwatch wildflowers census at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory located high in the Colorado Rockies. I spent two weeks counting lupine, fireweed, linum, and other wildflowers. That fortnight was as rough on my body as it was uplifting to my spirit. Dancing weasels popped out of the holes in the floor of my unheated cabin every morning.
I left there with a permanent faith in the beauty of the natural world. I only had a cheap Vivitar camera packed with me, and I vowed that I would work on taking better pictures ever since.
(Edited to add, 7/15/17: I have now identified this wildflower. It is Baptisia Alba, or White Wild Indigo.)