Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Think it’s too early for Christmas?

It’s never too early for Christmas! I feel incredibly lucky to have born near Christmas because it’s my favorite holiday of all. Of course, that begs the question, why do I love it? Because of my birthday or because of the holiday itself? And just like the chicken and egg question, it can never be answered.

Last year, I did a great online craft class by Elsiecake, one cool girl, and while I ripped my hair out over a few crafts, I really did enjoy it. *Note:  it’s only being a perfectionist that makes me rip out my hair while doing projects, after all.*  The class got me to steadily craft, at least for a few weeks and that was an entirely new experience. This year, I want to start the crafting mayhem again and I’ve started to rev my wheels. Of course, there are a few things that should be done before I start complete and utter crafting. One is stripping off all this ugly wallpaper and two is painting afterward. Three is painting a darling,  peeling stand-alone cupboard and four is painting a shelf for the wall. See how everything comes down to painting? And I have no compulsion to paint so I’m just going to have to craft. Maybe some painting will get slipped in there but that’s doubtful!

For this year, I’m thinking gingerbread. Gingerbread ornaments for the tree down in the finished basement and a gingerbread farm for…gingerbread farm animals, of course! I lived on a farm for a good part of my life and while we never had as many animals as I hoped for, this one will have The Animals. I kid you not. And of course, there’s many many presents to be made and decorations to come to life and so you see…painting just isn’t an option.

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Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.

Life Lessons from a Cardinal

Outdoor living is coming in fits and starts now that it’s June. Last week it was in the 90’s (30C) and today it is gentle and cool with thunderstorms passing by north and south, bringing coolness in the wake of their stormy skirts. The sun shines but the thunder rumbles nearby and my cats retreat farther indoors to snooze on chairs instead of near windows.

It is tempting to join them. The heat break means that deep good sleep is possible again. Even with air conditioning, I sleep poorly when it’s hot. I sleep best when it rains.

And it has been raining at night but in great torrid thunderstorms where the house shakes and the windows rattle. Sometimes I lie in bed as the thunderstorms march by and wonder at the fate of all the creatures and people living outside.

It is summer and I have no arguments with it. It’s too hard to argue with the seasons. On the beautiful days, I sip my breakfast tea outdoors and watch the birds and squirrels to start my day. There’s always a drama playing out in the backyard. My favorite is the cardinal who walks along the deck rail, casting his bright black eye here and there and then breaks into song until a robin kicks him out. When the coast is clear, he returns and does the same thing all over again. Despite my nearness, he doesn’t mind me at all and I adore his bright red plumage and courageous laughing heart. His song cheers my soul and I’ve come to recognize his particular song. It falls under the same lines as all cardinals but it has a bit of improvised trill at the end. I think he’s been hanging out with song sparrows and got Ideas.

He’s a hard individual to photograph (all flash and movement) but I’ve shared a photo of a cardinal from National Geographic so you can get the idea. He’s hard to ignore and is a permanent on the robins’ blacklist. I aspire to such a level of happy insouciance.