Protecting things

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I have a unique flower that will soon bloom. I have owned this plant for many years and it’s the sort of plant that couldn’t stand even one day of freezing weather. That means it spends most of its life in my laundry room languishing sadly for months and months. It has bloomed a few times but many summers go by without any flowers at all. I bought the cutting at the wonderful plant fair of the Montreal Botanical Gardens and I remember being scandalized at paying eight dollars for what looked like an ordinary length of sugar cane. My hope and ambition to own this exotic plant overcame good sense and for weeks I watched nothing happen to “my stick” as it sulked in a pot of sand. I was with another fanatical gardener that day who also bought a cutting and we were given strict instructions to be patient and to believe….evangelical gardening. My plant looks terrible in the winter. All the leaves fall off and I wonder how it can survive. It does and as you can see buds are ready to open.

Little birds, flocks of sparrows have taken to attacking my grapes lately and to my horror I found that two flower buds had been nipped off as well. I remembered a funny item I boughht on my last trip to Mexico. It’s a sort of net weighted down with miniature clay jugs around the edge. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted it. It was just like the little protectors we had when I was a little girl in Wales. My mother would arrange such a little veils over the milk jug or the sugar basin to stop flies getting in. Ours just had beads around the edge. An unlikely item to have hanging about but because of my nostalgia I just happened to have one. I’m pretty sure the rest of the buds are safe now. Sun can still come in but they’d better hurry up as the days are getting shorter. School has started up and leaves are yellowing and starting to fall.

Everything changes and slips away. Is it foolish to hope that the frangipani plant will bloom this year? Is it foolish to try to protect the buds that are still twisted closed? Will they unfurl into the flat white flower with the golden heart at the centre and the maddeningly sweet perfume? Let the good weather hold a little longer and we will see.

Innocent clouds

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These clouds were above my back yard about an hour ago. The sunset made them pink when they had been white and a few moments later grey crept onto the lower surfaces. Little by little they became darker and darker. They changed from luminous wonders into dark everyday clouds.

I’ve been spending time with my three grandchildren this week. We go to the pool on hot days. They plunge into the water fearlessly from the diving board. The middle child, a boy, has a terrifying swimming style. He disappears undewater for a long time and then emerges, gasping and gulping in air. He splashes forward with a few strokes and then sinks below the surface again. He is very game and when I grab him in a panic he sputters out, ” It’s OK Gran-gran, I’m swimming!” How fragile he seems to me yet he is tough and of the three the scrappiest one. His older brother is a calm, responsible child; an easy child, never a bit of trouble. The youngest, a girl is a pretty charmer with sparkling blue eyes, like sapphires. Oh, don’t yawn. Every grandmother praises up her grandchildren. The middle one though is a very passionate person, quick to cry, to get fighting mad, to hug and kiss with fervour. When the vague Italian grandmother next door comes out to hug them, the others submit with good grace but he flings his thin arms around her neck and truly kisses her, looking into her old eyes with intense curiosity.

Like pink clouds they are innocent and marvellous. I hope light shines on them always so they can keep a little of that trembling glow before they ” grow up” ( for who is grown up, truly?) and darkness comes, as it must.

Someone else’s work today

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On my way home from an excursion that brought me close to the great river that is so close to us, and yet that we so often ignore, I heard a wonderful song on the radio. I made a special effort to remember the name and the first line of melody and looked it up as soon as I came home. It is in french and I so encourage everyone who can to look on YouTube and listen to Michel Rivard sing “Je voudrais voir la mer”. Oh, I thought everyone should know about this wonderful music and I even made an attempt to translate the beautiful lyrics. Of course it’s not possible to get the rhyme on a first draft like this but I really could not resist. The picture is not the sea, but from the ferry from Sorel to the islands across the river. Well, our great river goes to the sea so it is the best I could do. Make sure you see Michel Rivard sing this and not another artist…for the first time, at least. So, homage to him

I want to see the sea and her silver beaches
And her white cliffs proud in the wind.
I long to see the sea and her moon birds
Her steeds of mist and flying fish

I want to see the sea when she is a mirror
When wooly clouds pass unobserved.
And stormy evenings in the rage of the sky
Or hear a whale call to his mate.

I long to see the sea
To dance with her and to defy death
I long to see the sea
To dance with her and to defy deal.

I want to see the sea swallow up a galleon
With its gold and cannons and to hear the laughter
Of a hundred thousand children who don’t fear the sea
And who want to live without flying a flag.

I want to see the sea and her imaginry monsters
Her canvas sails and her warships
The graveyard of sailors and her coral bed
Where sharks sleep in satin sheets.

I live in a bubble in the middle of a city.
Sometimes my heart is grey and behind the windows
I feel loneliness fall onto the pale faces
And under the heavy dragging footfalls of passers-by.

Then deep in me there arises a wind of the open spaces
As powerful as the storm, as soft as love
And the ocean calls me with a velvet voice
And draws in my body
The movement, the curve of a wave.

I long to see the sea
To dance with her to defy death.
I long to see the sea
To dance with her to defy death.

I want to see the sea swell with the sun
And become a jewel as large as the earth.
I want to see the sea swell with the sun
And become a jewel as large as the earth.

Red leaf

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Not a betrayal, but a warning.
The first surprising flag of decay.
A little gasp at this first brilliant leaf
fluttering high
above lush green.

Not a betrayal, but a call to reality.
A silent call, clanging, clapping hands,
calling to order.
Seasons change

Not a betrayal, but a reminder.
The sun subtly steals
a moment or two.
Time turning.

You removed your hand a little too quickly,
preferring to walk unhampered beside
the broad river that carries away
dreams, old hopes.

Strange how the red leaf
is the highest one.
So many warnings, but not a betrayal.

My second rank darlings

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First rank darlings are people but I don’t believe in putting pics of people on my blog. Call me old fashioned……like this rose. How lovely is that. I only planted it last fall and was sure the brutal winter would kill it but it is on it’s third blooming. I love the shape, like something out of a tapestry.

Next are nasturtiums. I never had any luck with them. All I ever produced were leaves, but look at these orange faces.

Last but far from least are my gladiolii. I never cared for these – reminded me of funerals but then my grandchildren gave me some bulbs for Mother’s Day and now I love them. They are very irritating in that they take the whole summer to bloom and I got very discouraged and never believed they would bloom. Perhaps I should take a lesson here. Not quite sure what it is…never mind . I revel in the color and the shape of these blooms going up the stem. I have a famous sunflower too. They are my darlings, really. If only they could kiss me with their petals it would be perfect.

Off to search for falling stars. I wonder if I will see any. I want them to show up tonight.

Sky miracles

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I got up early and discovered I had no milk for coffee. It was too early to go to the little corner shop so I decided to cook an old favorite – green beans and new potatoes with onion and tomato sauce. I had quite a bit of time so I took a while simmering the onion slices until they were golden and adding garlic and shallots too. The green beans were perfect, fresh from the Italian market and $1.49 for the package I couldn’t go wrong. “The good housewife cooks before she is hungry” was my idea as I prepared the summery dish. It was very overcast as I waited until I thought the shop might be open. Somehow I have little appetite in the morning these days but I was dying for a cafe au lait.

At last it was time to go get my milk. How dingy the shop is. You can tell that the profit margin is slim in the little store run by a Chinese family. The display cases are rusty and the space very cramped. On my way back I passed an old man setting stones into the edging of his front garden. A mother and a little girl waled hand in hand in front of me and an ernest cyclist pedalled past. Fine rain began to fall and then – an absolute downpour. Oh, the prudent mother had a little umbrella for her daughter and the two of them walked on sedately. I have a bad knee and was wearing a pair of flip flops so running was out of the question but my pace quickened but not before I was completely drenched. The sky simply opened up within a matter of a few seconds. Now the miracle is that this downpour allowed the sky to clear up and now it is nice and sunny. I am waiting for another special event too…look, my frangipani will bloom soon. Last year it refused and I was very frustrated but this year the white and fragrant flowers that grace the ears of Hawiian girls will finally come to my garden.

Perhaps when I am all alone one night I will pick one, put it behind my resolutely pink ear and hear the faint sounds of a ukulel and pounding surf. Stay tuned for the next miracle.