Friday, April 29, 2011

Georgia Peach

This is the steeple of the Presbyterian church near Chippewa square in downtown Savannah. The feather that blows in the wind several times during the movie Forrest Gump is said to have blown from here and the park bench featured during several scenes when Forrest converses with various people waiting for buses was placed in this square.

The city has a total of 22 lovely square parks situated throughout the city. There were 24, but 2 were removed to allow for "progress" - city buildings. The squares are each named and are a memorial to various city and Confederate heroes.

The oldest cemetery in the city has some 700 gravestones and crypts with gorgeous old stonework and dates back to the late 1700s.

In its day, Savannah was home to 3 iron foundries and everywhere in the city there is evidence of the talented craftsmen. Statues, gates, railings and decorative iron patterns around windows are examples of their artistry.

The magnolias were in bloom while we were there, the azaleas having just finished up their display. In New England, the magnolias blossom prior to the leaves unfurling; but in the south, where the trees are not deciduous, the waxy foliage is the perfect backdrop to the large, white flowers.

The exotic scent of jasmine was quite literally everywhere - what might otherwise be mistaken for a nondescript vine, it was in full bloom with its sweet aroma hanging in the humid air. We never tired of the perfume. Everyone seemed to have jasmine growing on walls, around doors, up trellises and in pots.

"Dreams of Savannah mornings hung with Spanish moss" - Lloyd Cole

We were encouraged not to touch the Spanish Moss as it is home to many little critters that bite and cause skin irritation. It's a bit spooky, especially at night, this ethereal, airy clump that hangs from the branches of the live oaks. No damage is done to the trees as it's an epiphyte and lives off the moisture in the air, which is quite plentiful, I might add.

Just one example of the beautiful architecture of the city.

Despite the 88 degree heat and high humidity, there was always a soft breeze that gave us some relief, as well as the many shady trees. If it is in fact true that southerners move slowly, they have good reason; it's bloody hot. Fortunately for me the city is completely flat and easy to walk around despite the high temps and humid air.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Short Stories and Letting Go

Try as I might, I've never been a fan or short stories, preferring the depth and breadth of a novel instead. I appreciate the challenge of a short story, the need to draw in the reader in a short amount of time, develop characters and create a snapshot with words, but I'm always left hanging with the abruptness of the ending and wanting more.

It occurred to me that life is comprised of both novels and short stories. While we were traveling in the south, we had the opportunity to meet a number of people who were staying at the same inn and enjoyed sharing a conversation or two during our stays, over meals or drinks at night. We met an interesting couple from Sydney, Australia, who now live in London. A group of six from Texas who get together once a year in a different city somewhere in the US. A young man in a bar sitting next to us who went to the same small college that Joe did in NY. One couple was even from the town next to ours in MA, much to all of our astonishment!

Although it felt strange to say goodbye after becoming friendly and sharing a meal or drink together, we all eventually went our separate ways. Perhaps it's odd, but I'm left wondering: do they enjoy the rest of their trip? Did they like the restaurant we recommended? There is a chance we'll cross paths with the couple from Marblehead at some point in the future, but the likelihood that we'll ever see anyone else we met is slim. We enjoyed each others' company while we had it, but said goodbye and best of luck when we parted, knowing we would probably never see one another again.

The lesson of letting go and allowing fate to send us in different directions applies to nearly everything: stories, life, friendships, youth, health. If we're able to handle these things with grace then we are truly at peace with the nature of things.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Time Keeps on Slipping

It's funny how the mind plays tricks on us and from one year to the next our memories of things can get distorted; we often remember things how we wanted them to be, instead of how they truly were.

I could have sworn that the birds had
already moved into the birdhouse by this time last year, but looking back through April of 2010's blog posts, I can see that it was not the case. I'm relieved; I was disappointed to think that the nesting spot might go unoccupied this year; it was such a pleasure to see the activity and know that the house was put to good use.The same is true for my vegetable seedlings. I was thinking that I had started them earlier last year and that there was much more growth by now. Again, not so! On a post from April 7 2010 I could see that the seeds had germinated but only had one set of leaves. Currently, there are several sets on most of the little plants that are growing in the flats on the porch.

Hello, Dahlia!
Now if I could just keep the cats out of the pots in which I've started the dahlia tubers. Millie seems to think they are wonderful litter boxes!

"Chitting" potatoes to allow for earlier growth.

After this long winter I must be in more of a rush than usual to have spring arrive with all the delights it brings with it; I need to be more patient and not worry that we are behind. Things will evolve as they always do! Many of the shrubs in the yard have a greenish halo around them, the leaves are preparing to burst on to the scene at the first stretch of warm weather. The lilacs have loads of buds on them and the peonies are stretching their necks out of the soil. Even the clematis are starting to grow.

And now I've documented the goings on in the garden so that next year, when I worry that we are far behind or ahead of where we've been in previous years, I can reassure myself that indeed we are right on schedule: exactly
where we should be.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beautiful Addition

This lovely birdbath is the latest addition to the garden; the leaf is meant to collect rainwater, there is a perching branch above and below and a bronze bird looks down from above. I absolutely love it and put it right beneath the back deck where there are foxglove and clematis behind it with white and red rose bushes adjacent. Hopefully in another week or two the plants will have matured a bit so the ground doesn't look so naked. This is exactly the sort of thing I would have picked out for myself for the garden, it fits in perfectly, but as it so happens it was a surprise gift from some very special and dear friends.

I'm looking forward to all the feathered visitors who will surely enjoy this as much as I do! I am very lucky indeed to have so many wonderful people in my life.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Yesterday was finally warm enough to get outside and do the last of the spring raking and cleanup. Often in spring it's warmer away from the coast but a sea breeze will keep us on the 40s, while areas further inland enjoy 60 degrees. Not only does the wind make us much more chilly, it makes trying to corral the leaves and stuff them into bags nearly impossible.

Seven compostable bags of leaves later, the gardens are cleared and new spring growth is revealed. My spring 'daily rounds' are now possible- preferably with a hot cup of tea- to check on which plants are coming up and which ones have decided to call it quits.

While Joe was out at the DIY store picking up more leaf bags I heard a rustling in the leaves behind the rhododendron. When I approached I saw some movement and discovered that we have a wonderful addition to the yard- a small garden snake! An auspicious sign, snakes are great in the garden for eating insects, as well as being a sign of a healthy eco-system. I couldn't be happier to see this little guy!

Getting a photo of him/her proved to be difficult, as snakes do tend to be fairly shy. Other years I've seen them from time to time, slithering into a crevice in the cement by the back basement door under the porch or sadly hanging from Charlotte's jaw. This one seemed to just want to bask in the early spring sunshine. He'd pick a nice spot, then as soon as I'd approach with the camera, he'd go behind a log or under the leaves. After a while if I kept very still he'd re-emerge and find another suitable spot.

My patience eventually paid off and I got a couple good pictures of him. I do hope to be seeing more of our visitor, even if it's just the end of his tail as he makes his way to a new hiding place. Now, what to name him?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.......

Rather than discard the wicker-framed mirror we had in the old upstairs bathroom when we remodeled, I decided there would be nothing lost if I tried to mosaic it.

The wicker was removed, leaving a nice flat frame. I had quite a few pink and burgundy dishes sitting in the basement, just waiting to be broken, and the bathroom workmen had very thoughtfully left behind some leftover white grout.

The mirror came out pretty good and looks perfect in the downstairs bathroom, with it's pink/burgundy tile. Sometimes you just have to go with it! The total cost of this mirror is probably about $5 (for the china plates). Everything else was reused or re-purposed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Kicking Back

These four socks represent the fruits of my winter's knitting labors. I've tried several different sock patterns and by far this one is my favorite! There's quite a bit of stretch in this lace pattern, making the fit good even if the sock is a bit too small or large.

I love being able to have something small and portable I can work on while waiting in doctor's offices or in front of the television in the evening; that way I don't feel like I'm "wasting" time. The next pair will be cantaloupe colored in the same pattern. Twenty-eleven is definitely the year of the sock.