Friday, June 22, 2018

Precious Peonies

My paternal grandmother grew many flowers but I remember her peonies the most.

They had huge, fragrant blooms, some as big as small cantaloupes. 

Their fragrance bordered on divine.

One day, when still a little girl and visiting at Grandma's,  I gently cupped a huge peony blossom in my hand and sniffed heartily.

Suddenly, the pleasant experience turned bad because an ant crawled straight up into my nose.

Peonies are known to attract lots of ants who love the flower's sugary nectar.  

The ant eventually came out after much screaming and blowing into a handkerchief probably thrust at me by one of my aunts who ran out of the farmhouse to see what the commotion was about.

Ever since then, I have been quite careful about sniffing peonies.

The Old Farmers Almanac has a couple of great quotes about peonies:

"The fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers, a rare fusion of fluff and majesty, the peony is now coming into bloom.
–Henry Mitchell, American writer (1923-93)

Also, the Almanac notes that "Peonies are said to symbolize a happy life and a happy marriage." 

We have two large peony plants in the front yard, white and deep cranberry colored. 

A pink one would be lovely, too.

Unfortunately, due to thinking of them as ant hotels, they never make it into our house in bouquets.

They sure are gorgeous, though, and their fragrance, sniffed from a safe distance, is still divine.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Voice and Memories from the Past

Judy Collins is one of my all-time favorite singers and songwriters.

She has been well known as a folk artist for decades, as well as a social activist.

So many songs she has sung brought such peace and gentleness to my soul over the course of a lifetime.

I also admire her always defending and fighting for those who are less fortunate.

Some of my favorite songs she has sung include  "My Father," "Suzanne," and "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?"

  People, places, and things from our past become alive again when they are revived in our memories.

That became true for me recently when Judy Collins gave a concert with an old friend of hers, Stephen Stills, another well known folk artist.

They came to a Tanglewood, a venue in Western Massachusetts, that is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Music lovers set up chairs, blankets, and picnics on an expansive lawn, dotted with beautiful, old trees.                                              
Along with other concert-goers, we sat in the shade of one of the trees.                                                                                                 
There's a huge open-sided shed where guest artists perform and the music flows out onto the lawn.

Colored umbrellas create a kaleidoscope of color as well as provide shelter from the sun.
Judy's voice has changed from her early days but, to me, it's still clear and powerful.
One song she sang at the concert,  titled "Maria," told the story of a young Dreamer and her family.

It was  poignant,  clear, and very tragic.  She sang it a cappella.

The audience sat, transfixed, as she sang the story about hard-working immigrants coming to America to make a better life for their daughter, Maria.

Even the birds seemed to be silenced while the song told the heart-wrenching struggle of the immigrant family.

That song, alone, was worth the price of the $26 admittance.

Born on May 1, in 1939, Judy Collins is now 79 years old and still contributing mightily to the music world as well as to what is going on around us.  

How incredible it is that she is still striving to make the world a better place.  

How many of us can say that about our own lives?

What a thrill it was for me to hear her once again.


Monday, June 18, 2018

A New Glass Rooster Comes Home to Roost

Remember the story of Chanticleer, the beautiful, fierce, and proud rooster in the Nun's Priest Tale, a story within Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales?

Chaucer was a Middle English poet who lived a long, long time ago.  His Chanticleer dominated the barnyard as well as seven lovely hens who adored him.

(The name Chanticleer is also spelled Chaunticleer.)

The rooster had some lessons to learn in life and learn them he did!

Well, a new rather large and handsome glass rooster has come home to roost at our house.

He's about a foot tall.

During a recent stop at a Goodwill Store, he was spotted sitting on a table across from the cash register.

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After making a purchase of several items, I had to wait and see if there would be enough money left to buy the rooster. Luckily, there was.

So, he was aptly named Chanticleer but there are no lovely hens around here for him to croon over.

He is simply king of the kitchen table!


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