Friday, August 6, 2010

Visit to the Dunes

When you step on a beach the world goes away. My good friend and gardening guru Gail Woodruff and I drove up to Indiana Dunes State Park for a visit with my daughter Allyson and her husband Brandt. He is the property manager of the the park so they live on property. We ate, toured the park with Allyson as our guide, inspected a local plant and garden store (of course!) and ate some more. As dusk approached, we went down to the beach to watch the sunset. And, as always, it was wonderful.

I am not sure what kind of magic happens when you take off your shoes and step into the sand. It wraps around your toes. It is so different from the lawn and sidewalk of everyday life. You sink in a little and by the time you draw near the lake, the cares of the day have left you and disappeared into that soft blanket of warmth. The water reaches into the sand as you get near the lake. There are small treasures left by last night's tide; polished rocks, beach glass, bits of wood and hardly recognizable discards.

We wander, we pick up this rock, we decide against that one. We have one eye on the sky and now it's time, the sun is tired of this day. Time for it to rest. We sit upon our blanket and we stare happily as the colors gather. The sun slips lower and lower, we talk, we laugh and then we see it, that precious moment when the sun is there and then pops magically into the water. I always wonder how many people from the dawn of understanding have watched that moment and felt that little gasp escape their own lips. Nature and the universe, the earth and the sky, such a beautiful moment and we shared it. Magic.

Back to the beach house, more talking and welcome sleep. The Dunes have given us another wonderful memory and I will treasure it. I will keep it tucked in with the heart shaped rocks and the bits of colored beach glass. They are all wrapped up together in sand.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Monarch's Dance

The monarchs are back at my place. I have had swallow tails, painted ladies, and all other kinds of fluttery beauties but I love it when the monarchs come through. My butterfly bush and Joe Pye weed attract them. They come singly, in gregarious groups and preoccupied couples to sample the nectar. Last Sunday I stood out there in the yard near the butterfly garden and just watched. I edged forward carefully. The couples flew around me, swirling, dancing touching each other and narrowly avoiding me in their delight. They land, they flutter near each other and then dart off to another blossom head. I am totally invisible to them, just another plant or tree or pillar to swerve around as they glide in the next round of the dance. I can't tell you how wonderful that makes me feel to be so accepted as part of the landscape. I have finally fit in.

Life on Rabbitville Road has been filled with watching the seasons ebb and flow this year. I have taken time off from writing and have gotten serious about cleaning up my yard and garden. My camera has become my constant companion and I spend each break in my workday wandering around the yard catching this nature spirit or that in full bloom or unselfconscious action. I began my journey of observing this spring. Each new sprout of plant and each set on bud was a new friend to me, or the renewal of an old acquaintance. I cherished their growth and encouraged them with pails of water, mulch and fresh soil. Every week brought new plants into bloom and I reveled in the daffodils, the dogwoods and flowering trees, the holly hocks, the lilies, the hydrangeas and now the hibiscus...color, always fresh color, and a soothing smile for my soul.

Along with the flowers came the stirring of life in the pond. The ice went away, the frogs started moving and the fish surfaced. Insects started flying and crawling about and soon I had dragon flies. A pair of black snakes mated on my front deck. Turtles passed through. Baby toads the size of my little fingernail hopped out of their pond and jumped all over the yard. They scattered as I innocently crossed their path. And I observed. I watched their normal daily activity and embraced my own. Like all of them, I began to live again.