Rev. Catharine Is Currently
On Medical Leave

My Study Window

My Study Window

After a vulnerability hangover from doing some big educational and emotional labor around No Diet Day, today, I give you my joy. Today, I find that I cannot write about what we should be doing, or shocking revelations of how I have survived. Today, I give you my delight, and I recognize that sharing delight and joy is an important part of a life that is good, just, and liberated. It is joy shot through with a thread of sadness, but mostly it is delight.

In early spring, I tend to write about the Procession of Flowers. I think of Brigid’s snowdrops, the crocus naturalized into yards, daffydowndillies coming up and the tulips after them.

And I guess I’m kind of still on that kick, except in a slightly different way. Now I am playing, “What did the previous owner plant and when will it bloom?”

I moved, as you may know, on March 25th. I moved to a house that is making Julie and me happy every day. It is peaceful, quiet, tender, and lovely. And it has bigger gardens than I’ve lived with, at least since I was a child when the giant flower-and-vegetable gardens were divided by a monster black raspberry bush. The scratches were so worth the fruit. At least I thought so when I was ten years old and came in with a basket full for jelly and face and hands purple with juice.

These days, though, are marked by having moved. And having moved, dear friends, to a house that has zero lawn. That’s right ZERO green grass to be mowed and manicured. Not a shred of it. No heaven in a blade of grass here!

Hold up! That’s not really true. The gardens do indeed have lots of grass. Many kinds, in fact. Clumps here and there of decorative grasses, bamboo (which I believe – shocker of shockers – has escaped the containers in which it was originally planted, and several other things.

The earliest to bloom were the sweet primroses along the path. Yes, literally the primrose path. The pun the previous owner has left us is not lost on me. And then the vinca minor, oh, what is it called? Periwinkle! Yes, periwinkle that is also trying to escape its bounds.

And friends, there are roses, at least fifteen roses. They are putting out their new red growth, and I watch them avidly for the first signs of buds. Portland is the “Rose City,” and roses are among my favorite flowers, so I am hoping we manage to keep these established plants happy. I do not know their colors, and I find I do not care. There are roses, and my heart is joyful.

There are peonies, two of them with buds that are swelling beautifully. They will doubtless fall under their own weight, but then I’ll shake the ants off, wash them off a bit, and bring them inside to breathe in their glorious scent for the few days they will give it to us.

There is a happy, lavender-bloom-covered lilac and a pink-and-leaf-covered dogwood in the center of a stone-and-concrete courtyard.

Two lavenders. A cotoneaster (which I just learned how to pronounce) with its tiny, delicate, yellow flowers and strange, greyish bush that can be bonsaied. Hostas over there in danger from the bamboo…

And then there are several other plants I haven’t yet identified. Some unhappy-looking shrubs and some plants that might be lilies?

And this is only the front yard, friends!  This is only the front yard. I find I am a bit overwhelmed, just typing it. It is just a list, a list of plants that have been tended and loved. Talking about them makes me both happy and sad. Happy because I love them so, and sad because, at this moment in my recovery, I cannot do as much for them as I’d like to. I can water them, and help Julie feed them. And I can water the annuals we’ve planted in barrels and on the back deck (because we need more flowers?) dutifully.

But I cannot do as I once did, and prune and kneel and mulch and weed. (I confess, not being able to weed is no hardship! I’ve always hated it.) The loss of these powers is a tough one, another concrete way that my mobility disabilities express themselves, and something I wish were different. But it is what it is, my body is where it is at the moment, for the time being, and in some ways for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, I water the back deck marigolds and petunias and lantana, the front courtyard alyssum and salvia, and I practice holding the hose in one hand and my cane in the other.

And I dream of the beneficial pollinator garden for the back garden. I dream of wood chipped paths and butterflies and bees (oh please, bees!) landing on daisies or burrowing into foxglove. I plan for planning, and I know there’s lots I can do with paper, pencil, and Big Opinions, even if I cannot turn the compost in or push the coneflower into the soil. Still, I live in anticipation of beauty and new life, and I see it happening every time I lift my head and look out my study window.

What beauty are you hoping for, even anticipating, in your life this summer?

What is promising, even threatening, to bloom if you feed it, tend it, make sure it is not choked by weeds (whether material, psychological, or cultural)?

Where can you lift your head and see both work that needs doing and help that needs asking for?

Where can you give someone the gift of helping you and also do your best to do your part?

And finally, where can you find some beauty today that will lighten the load of the world’s heaviness?

Some questions brought to you by the letters G for “garden” and “grasses” and F for “flowers.” Oh, and the number 15 for all the rose bushes I dream of being in bloom.

Blessings of beauty for you today, and all my love –


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