The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We are haunted by leaves at this time of year.  They are simply everywhere.  Some leaves are still on the trees, because two of our oaks are the sort which drop their leaves one by one until the last one falls as the new buds push it off at the beginning of spring, but some leaves have been forced to leave the trees because of winds; on windy days it is literally a rain of leaves everywhere around us. 

Our front lawn and back garden are covered with leaves, although we’ve already mounted two thorough rakings, and particularly the leaves accumulate at our front door and on the terrace at the entrance to the garden room.

Those leaves which are piled at the doors follow us in.  They come in unbeknownst on our shoes, they cling to the fur of our beloved cat, they blow into the garden room where we leave the door a cat-width open, to allow Max to come and go.  Max doesn’t go far, just to the nearest neighbors to inspect what he must regard as his domain, but he seems to want and need that freedom to go out when the whim dictates.  A very cat attitude.   So we must allow that door slightly open, and the leaves seem to always find the opening.

We actually like the leaves, for the most part.  When the leaves turn colors, a branch is as lovely as any bouquet of flowers.  Where leaves land in the flower beds, they give kind  shelter to tender plants when the temperatures drop, and occasionally one finds a leaf that has dropped but still has brilliant colorings and is quite a work of art in itself.  And we like the sense of drama when the leaves fall in showers because a breeze suddenly accelerates.    Finally, we like the leaves for what they become when they are chopped and piled and left to metamorphosis into lovely mulch and eventually good garden earth. 

But nevertheless there are times when we feel a very strong wish that a very strong north  wind would come along, and take those leaves south.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Speak, love

The season of loss can occur at any time, and sometimes occurs at this time of year, when we are already dealing with mostly cloudy, dreary days, and with the demands of approaching holidays that mandate we infuse ourselves and our surroundings with great cheer.  Of course, historically those requirements of cheer are the device humankind has adopted for the purpose of dealing with the dreary days.  And then, we hear the news that someone we know has gone.  And even when one of those friends had achieved the estate of ninety-nine years, and when the other friend has been released from the darkness and pain of dementia, we think of times gone by and shared memories, and go through the prescribed motions of saying goodbye.

Yesterday, as part of the goodbye for one friend, the one who had suffered so from dementia, a daughter stood and shared memories and then, in closing, reminded us all to tell those we love that we love them, as much and as often as possible.  And she was right to do so.  Because illness and accident and loss can occur at any time, and it is foolish beyond measure to leave those words unspoken, presuming that they are taken for granted, presuming that there will always be another chance to speak.

A writer by the name of George Eliot wrote these words:  “I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved …; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave … and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.”    Goodbye, Augusta; goodbye, Louise.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On a Monday in December

Today is our usual day for volunteer shelving at our local library.  My mate was nursing a set of sprung back muscles after injudiciously handling wet soil with a shovel, while we were finally planting the last of the daffodils.  Yep, I had succumbed, again, to catalogs, and while I had ordered only a few bulbs to plant, everything had conspired to keep us from planting.  First the temps remained way too warm, then we finally got some rain (no complaint there), and then other commitments took up time and energy and opportunity.  So there we were, planting the daffodils and jonquils along with a handful of alliums, and oops, a spring got sprung in the poor back.   This was Saturday; yesterday, knowing we were possibly in for a dramatic change of weather and perhaps heavy rain today, I pressed our kind son into service, and figured out a more efficient way of planting (with a bulb digger – what an idea!) and we finally got the last of the bulbs tucked.  Next spring, we’ll have forgotten the pain and the push, we’ll just be enjoying the fragrance of jonquils such as Suzy and Stratosphere, and narcissi such as Flower Record and Fortune, and Merlin. And since our garden is small, there is little room for planting more bulbs to plant in other years.  These, along with the bulbs already established, will make our garden glorious for several weeks, if, of course, the weather is decent.   With spring, or any other season in Texas, one never knows. 

Anyway, I drove alone to the library to keep up the family commitment, and as I did, the wind was making dry leaves skitter across the road, sometimes making a circle or swirl, and more leaves were falling from trees; it was magical.  In Clement Moore’s "‘Twas The Night Before Christmas," he describes ‘dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly.’  Many writers describe the leaves as ‘dancing’, and actually I have seen them appear to do that, like a country square dance, changing partners.  But today the leaves were just following wind currents, down from the trees, across the road, making it clear that autumn is nearly over, and winter is closer.  There’s a band of bad weather further north of us and some folks further north will get snow and possibly a blizzard of it; here it is cloudy and dreary and promising rain, in other words, perfectly expected weather behavior for this time of year. 

But when the last of the bulbs are tucked, and the weather looks this dreary, and the leaves are falling like, well, snow, what comes to my mind is daffodils.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Obliviosity, that’s my new word (I create a new word from time to time - just ask my family!).   What does it mean, you say?    Well, let me define it thusly.  Obliviosity is the condition with which those are stricken who are totally unaware of their surroundings and those who share their surroundings. 

The oblivious stop in the middle of aisles at the grocery store, even when they’re not talking on their cell phone (but especially when on the phone).   Or they drive right through red traffic lights.  Or they cross right in front of people who are walking in a mall or down a street or in the produce aisle, or they walk directly at you while chatting, which makes one want to, oh so very much, simply stand still and let them walk right into you (but you simply move out of the way with a shake of your head and they never know).  Or they push through a doorway, crowding out those who were there first, who simply and politely move out of their way. 

The oblivious don’t say ‘Thank you’ to the checker at the store or to someone who holds a door for them.  They drive fast through a parking lot as if it were a through road; oh, are there others around?   They don’t bother to park correctly and frequently use two spaces; after all the spaces are there solely for them. 

If we’re talking about the management of a shop, said management doesn’t bother to notice or care that the building temperature is way too hot for comfort, or way too cold; of course, then they are surprised that customers don’t linger.

If the oblivious are possibly interested in political events, they base their opinions and judgments on whatever headline is screaming or whatever inane e-mail has arrived; they do not bother to verify, because they’ve already made up their minds, based on headlines and e-mails.  Which perhaps is an odd balance to those elected officials who are unaware and/or uncaring of what their constituents need/want/expect.

“Who are all these folks stricken with obliviosity,” you ask?  Why, they are all around us.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

We remember

Watching a small nature segment on one of our favorite Sunday Morning magazine programs, which featured penguins, I was reminded of one of our favorite family stories.

We have two grandchildren, a boy and a girl; they are, of course, both wonderful.  And like all children, when they were small, they loved going to the zoo.  Once when our granddaughter was about eighteen months or so and our grandson was about three years older than that, the whole family went to the zoo to see a special exhibition of penguins.  It was wonderful.  There were all kinds of penguins and all sizes.  One of the most wonderful aspects of the exhibit was that it was set in a sort of aquarium, so that the visitors could see the penguins pattering around in their awkward way along the edge of a pool, and then we could see, when the penguins were in the water, what grace and strength they had as swimmers. 

Let me set the stage for the rest of the story.  Our granddaughter, at that time, was safely ensconced in a stroller (or so we thought).  The area where visitors passed through had, for ambiance, stone walls and a small fish pond or two against the opposite wall from the penguins.  While all the rest of us were watching the penguins and watching our grandson’s excitement, our granddaughter was otherwise occupied.  Some movement caught the corners of our eyes and we all turned to see that this amazing little girl had reached in the nearest pond from her stroller and actually caught a fish!  This required, obviously, amazing dexterity and a lightning reflex.  It also required the nearest adult, which was her father as we recall, to immediately free the fish back into the water and move that stroller to a safer place – safer, that is, for the fish.  Then we all instinctively moved to the far side of the exhibit area as if to disclaim any responsibility for any trauma the fish may have experienced.  Then we laughed and admired this dexterous child and promptly decided she should have been named “Bear”, since she could catch fish as well as any … well, you get the idea.

Now our granddaughter is a lovely teen in high school and plays the French horn, and plays it very well.  Which is a wonderful way to enjoy the dexterity that once caught a fish.