Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Trees’

June 27, 2013

When I arrived at Chelsea, Dad sat alone in the tea room reading the paper.  He didn’t hear me approach.  I watched as he stared at the paper as if he couldn’t focus on the words.  I waited, watching his determination to grasp a bit of what might be going on outside of his narrowed world.  Almost two minutes passed before he saw me standing beside him.  His face lit up and he came to life again.

Opening packages from Louise and Dave

Opening packages from Louise and Dave

I handed Dad the two Father’s Day packages that had arrived at my house from Louise and Dave.  After explaining that they were Father’s Day gifts, he began to open them…. at least he tried to open them.

Package One - Step One

Package One – Step One

Packaging has changed over the years.  The adhesives have gotten stronger and the plastics have the ability to stretch like salt water taffy.

Package One - Step Two

Package One – Step Two

He thought he had it…… but no…….after a great deal of struggling, Dad was able to open a large enough slit to reach his hand in, grab the bag inside of the bag and pull it out through the slit.

Package One - Step three

Package One – Step three

The bag inside the bag was just as difficult to open.

Package One - Step Four

Package One – Step Four

Dad does not give up easily.

Showing Off his new suspenders

Showing Off his new suspenders

Eventually, a new pair of navy suspenders lay in his hands. He switched his old for his new and sat back down to tackle the second package.

Package Two - Step One

Package Two – Step One

The experience was the same as with the first package….. but now he was a pro.

Package Two - Step Two

Package Two – Step Two

I think you get the picture.  The only difference was that he finally allowed me to help by slicing through the bag with my pocket knife.

Proudly displaying his new dress pants

Proudly displaying his new dress pants

After a quick stop to his room, we headed to Hofheimer Grotto.  We hadn’t been able to walk the paths after Hurricane Sandy.  Too many trees had blown down, blocking the trails.  I hoped that they had been cleared by now.

Cutting a trail through fallen trees

Cutting a trail through fallen trees

Dad hardly noticed the fallen trees or the huge chunks that had been cut from them so that the trails were clear for walking.

the new terrain

the new terrain

Dad just kept walking, focused on his footing and balance, oblivious to the state of the forest.  There was a time, months ago, when he talked non-stop about the trees either growing straight and tall or bending due to the wind and sun.    Here they were, his beloved trees, strewn about like pulled weeds left to decompose in the sun and rain.  Dad said nothing, he just kept walking.

Hofheimer Grotto

Hofheimer Grotto

The Grotto was in shambles.  I felt my cheeks wet.  I remembered the first time Dad and I walked here and discovered the grotto, a hidden treasure, an architectural wonder, surrounded by majestic pines.  Only a few of the pines remain.  The rest fell into the murky water, knocking stones and boulders down with them as they fell.  the grotto had changed and so had Dad.  I didn’t want to linger.

As a change of pace, as well as to distract me from my grief, I decided to take Dad for a haircut.  I don’t usually think of it and I didn’t think it was right to leave the haircuts for Jane to handle.  I wanted to surprise her…… and that I did.  It turns out that she had taken him for a haircut just last week!

Dad smiling when complimented on his great head of hair

Dad smiling when complimented on his great head of hair

Next time, I’ll take him to Sal’s in Martinsville.  A sports cut is not exactly what he needed.  Sorry Dad… Sorry Jane.

Back at Chelsea, I pulled the box of stationary out of my bag.  It has been a long, long time since Dad wrote anyone a note, addressed an envelope, put a stamp on it and mailed it off to a friend or loved one.  I thought I might help him write a thank you note to Louise and Dave.

What is it I am writing about?

What is it I am writing about?

“Why would I be writing a thank you note?”

“Louise and Dave sent you pants and suspenders.”

“Oh… where are they?”

“You’re wearing the suspenders.  The pants are in the closet.”

Dad looked down at his navy suspenders.  “These are new?”

“Yes, Dad.  You just got them today.”

“And where are the trousers?  May I see them again?”

I showed him the new trousers.

“Those are really nice.  Where did they come from?”

As you can imagine.  Writing the thank you note was more of a challenge than I had anticipated.

The Thank You Note

The Thank You Note

Eventually, the mission was accomplished.  I decided to wait for another day to help Dad write a note to his friend, Daisy Horn.

I’ll post what he wrote next time.  I don’t want to spoil it for Louise and Dave.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It has been a difficult week…..

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I drove my brother to the train station this morning.  I handed him a pencil and Dad’s green sketchbook. Dad is in Amherst, Massachusetts with Anna prior to joining Jane and her family in cape Cod.

Thinking of what to write

Pencil to paper

she says

or no lunch

too many thoughts

none simple

time is so special —-

I’ll hug my sister

Perhaps I should backtrack to last Thursday …….

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I picked Dad up early.  I was distracted by the fact that I would be visiting with the kids’ Dad after having lunch and a nice walk with Dad.  Michael was diagnosed with lung cancer last November and was not doing well.  We had a date to play music together, something we hadn’t done for about eighteen years.  Michael and I met rock climbing in 1977.

Rock Climbing in Boulder Canyon

In addition to rock climbing, we both loved playing music.

Michael playing banjo

Dad’s was ready to go when I arrived.  We stopped in at the physical therapy room so that I could find out what the adjustments are on the machine he can work out on every day if he wants to.

Dad working out

After a short, ten minute work out, we drove to Hofheimer Grotto.  But not before a serious photo shoot of the fish tank.

Goldfish No. 1

Goldfish No. 2

We decided to walk the trail backwards, starting at the grotto.  Of course, Dad had no recollection of seeing the grotto before.  In fact, he didn’t really know what it was.

Puzzling over the geology

“You look puzzled, Dad.”

Hofheimer Grotto

“I’m wondering about this strange geology.  This must have been created by changing water levels.”

I remembered our visit to Watkins Glen State Park many years ago.  Every twenty steps Dad would give another geology lesson to the kids, telling them how many billions and billions of years the layers of rock represented.

“Dad, this is a man made structure.”

Cement and Rocks

He didn’t believe me until I pointed out the cement that holds the rocks in place.  We moved on ……

The theme for the day turned out to be Tree Graffiti.

Tree Graffiti No. 1

Tree Graffiti No. 2

Dad waited patiently as I veered off the path to snap dozens and dozens of photos of wounded trees.  Notice the initials “KS” in the upper right corner.

Dad waiting patiently

“Hmmmmm…..”KS” ……… that reminds me of a girlfriend I once had….. Katherine Stokes.”

Katherine Stokes and Dad were twelve years old.  Katherine was blonde, short and of medium stature.  Her father owned one of the two general stores in Odell, Indiana.  Odell was small and could support only one general store.  Katherine’s father went bankrupt.  John P. Hatt’s general store did not.  Katherine had a half-brother named Carl Dinwitty.

Katherine’s best friend was Lucille Schultz.  Lucille’s boyfriend, John Borum, was a friend of Dads.  the four of them would go behind the church and kiss.

Fascinating Tree growth No. 1

I continued to be distracted by the trees.

Natural Tree Sculpture

When we arrived back at the car I handed dad his book and sketched the trees as Dad wrote about Odell, Indiana.

Not very fascinating trees

Odell, Indiana

It was a little village, about 3 miles from the farm.  John P. Hatt owned the only store there and I believe he sold ice cream cones (as well as eggs, flour, gloves, etc.)  For a little while, a second store was owned by Russell Stokes, my girlfriend’s father, but two stores was probably too much for one little po-dunk village to support.  I wonder where she is now, — if she’s still around — an old lady in a rocking chair ?!

I remember being told to hurry up and eat the ice cream cone — it was melting (Wow!  the things that you remember !)

We stopped at the grocery store to buy our lunch and had a picnic in Dad’s room before I left for South Orange.

My visit with Michael was wonderful.  We talked and laughed and played music together …. Will the Circle Be Unbroken, John Hardy and one that I didn’t know.  It was just two chords, G and D, mostly D.  Mike then played me Tennessee Waltz on his pedal steel guitar.  Though he clearly was weak, I understood why he and Karen were still hoping for the best.  He was due to have another scan in a week’s time to see if he was responding to the third treatment.  We agreed to get together again in a week or two.  He asked me to bring my fiddle the next time.  There would be no next time.  Michael passed away two days later.

My brother caught a train from New Hampshire to come to the service. He and Michael had always enjoyed one another.  They both were rock climbers and woodworkers.  I was climbing with my brother  when I first met Michael.

Climbing with Michael in Boulder Canyon, 1977

I am grateful for my family, friends, siblings, for my children and for my husband, Tom.  I am fortunate.

I dropped Howard off at the train station this morning …….

Memories mingling with words

Pencil to paper

she says

or no lunch

too many thoughts

none simple

time is so special —-

I’ll hug my sister

Read Full Post »

Off to a difficult start.  I shouldn’t have stayed out til 3 am painting musicians at the Raven’s Nest Blues Jam! But how could I resist?

Rob Fraser playing guitar at Blues Jam

I set the alarm for 6:45, hoping I wouldn’t fall back to sleep.  Of course, I did.  Luckily I awoke at 7:21, just in time to shower, call Dad and get on the road. Dad and I had a 9 am appointment at Bank of America with a locksmith to drill open Dad’s Safety Deposit Box.

Alas ….. I found myself behind a school bus, then a salt spreader, then a well digger truck. I arrived at Chelsea to find Dad in the dining room having just finished his breakfast.  I introduced myself to the woman sitting at his table whom I’d seen before, but not met.  Apologizing for being a whirlwind, I told Dad we had to leave immediately.  On the way to his room, I asked the woman’s name.

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t you talk to her, Dad?”

“Hmmmm….. I think so.”

We arrived at the bank with three minutes to spare.  While waiting for the locksmith I encouraged Dad to write giving him a few hints at what had already happened that morning.

February 9, 2012.  9 a.m.

Bank of America, Martinsville

Ate breakfast with C…… F…..

Black ice in the parking lot.

We are waiting for the locksmith.

Dad thought I said “Black-eyed peas”, not “black ice” and wondered why he had black-eyed peas for breakfast.

The locksmith arrived and drilled the lock.  The technique reminded me of opening a bottle of wine and took about the same amount of time.  Much to my surprise, the box was not empty.  It contained Grandmother Carter’s death certificate and several envelopes filled with folded documents.  I reached into the long, thin, narrow box to see if there was anything else.  Feeling something hard and perhaps furry, I stifled a scream and withdrew my hand while shivers ran down my spine.  I could understand mice finding their way into the drawers of my oak card catalog where I store art supplies, but I didn’t understand how one could get into a bank safety deposit box.  Before alarming the dignified bank attendant who was acting as witness to the opening of the box, I tipped the box and peered into the darkness.  That didn’t help.  Gently, I tipped the box forward.  A small, well-worn, suede pouch slid into view.  Inside was my Great Grandfather’s pocket watch.

Whew….

After a typical bank ordeal of no one knowing how to handle a situation that didn’t fall neatly into place, Dad and I returned to the car.  While the experience was fresh, I asked Dad to write a few words in his green sketchbook.

Searching for thoughts

Dad didn’t have any idea why we had gone to the bank.  I took the pocket watch out of my bag to jog his memory.

The Pocket Watch Rodent

The watch belonged to my grandfather

My father’s father

Whom I never met

I think he died

When I was a baby – about 1925

Dad seemed to have fond memories

Of his father.

I have very fond memories

Of his mother, —

My Grandmother Carter.

My cousin Dick Davison

Called her “Nin”.

She lived with The Davisons

In West Lafayette – on Evergreen Street

Until her death.

I roomed there during my Freshman

And Sophomore years at Purdue.

Our next stop was Dr. Frisoli’s office for Dad’s monthly B12 shot.  They took a blood sample to re-evaluate the frequency of his B12 shots.

Contour Drawing Demo for Dad while waiting for his B12 shot

With our two appointments out of the way, Dad and I were free to spend the rest of the day as we liked. I was famished, having dashed off without breakfast.  We headed to Benny’s for coffee and a fried egg sandwich.

Dad and Benny

Before leaving, Dad noticed the framed sign on the wall, one that he had printed and framed himself several years ago.

The Culture Center

He wondered how many other people stop to read the notice of the morning gathering of men commonly referred to by the members as The Culture Club.

Sufficiently fed and filled with caffeine, we drove to Wagner’s Farm where Dad and I volunteer in the Community Gardens.  I didn’t expect anyone to be there, but I thought it might be a good spot to test the sogginess of the ground and to begin our day’s adventure in nature.

Heading up the road toward the farm, I pulled into the parking lot of Trinity United Church on King George Road.  I wanted to jot down a few notes before they slipped from my mind.  Mind-slipping feels contagious when I’m with Dad.

Fence Patterns

I couldn’t resist a quick sketch of the fence we faced while sitting in the K-car.  I handed Dad his green sketchbook.

Pencil to paper

Eyes to the sky

All is so quiet, —

Even Chris and I.

But silence is fine,

It gives us time to reflect

Upon the many fine walks and rides, —

that together we have spent.

Feb. 9, 2012

The fence with cast shadows

After reading me what he wrote, I asked him to write a few descriptive words inspired by the fence.

The Fence draws attention

Why?

It scans one fifth of the view

And is flooded with sunlight

Its plainNESS dominates

Its grayness defines it.

The day was improving by the minute…. I started the car and turned out of the parking lot, the blue sky above and smiles on our faces.

Wood Chips from trees damaged in snow storm

Looks like we have plenty of wood chips for the gardens!  I reminded Dad that we are volunteers and we would be working in the garden again in the spring.  He was pleased.  Knowing that the trail bridge crossing the river to the Glen Hurst Open Space had been washed out I left the Farm and drove a quarter mile up the road to the main entrance of Glen Hurst.

Decades Later

From the vantage point of a small gazebo, Dad and I gazed at the open field, now home to small cedar trees.  I stood on the same spot where I made out with my boyfriend in the late 60’s.  Dad’s thoughts were on teeing off from that same spot when playing golf with Gary Kidd, probably in the 60’s.

“Looks like it’s been a while since anyone collected green fees.”

We left our memories behind, so to speak, and chose a trail.

Heading across the overgrown golf course

The trail, surprisingly dry, led us through diverse terrain.

Through sun speckled woods

Walks with Dad always include stopping to marvel at the blue, blue sky!

Breathing in the beauty of the sky

At one point the trail opened up to a cleared path for high tension wires, inspiring comments on electricity, wiring and the enormous size of the towers.

High Tension Towers

We walked about a mile when we came to a fork in the trail.  Dad chose to go to the right rather than to curve back around to the car. His stamina was excellent and it was clear he was not ready for the adventure to end.  Perhaps he would have chosen differently had he foreseen the challenges ahead.  Most likely, he would have made the same choice.

Warning signs?

We noticed metal signs facing a trail to the right.

Stop

Maybe the sign registered somewhere in Dad’s brain as a warning.  He didn’t change course, but the foggy thought must have stayed with him.  The trail led deeper into the woods, giant trees uprooted everywhere, having fallen into the river, across the path, taking several other trees down with them as they fell, reminders of the damage from the late autumn snow storm.

Storm damage

“Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, Chris.”

“Why not?”

“Well …… this might lead to …… the North Pole.”

The tone of concern in his voice alarmed me.  It didn’t sound as if he were joking.  Before I could respond, he continued.

“….. or, it might lead somewhere  like ….. maybe California!”

“I think we’ll be alright, Dad.  I’m sure I can find the way back.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

Riverside Trail

Soon enough, a paper sign reassured us that we weren’t on our way to the North Pole or California.  The beauty of reflections in the river chased away Dad’s fears.

Abstract designs in the river

Distracted by the patterns and textures of the river and trees, Dad and I followed the trail and took photos from the bridge that crossed the river.  Eventually the trail curved back around and we found ourselves headed back in the direction of the car.  We had walked about a mile and a half.  The trail vanished beneath a section of mud and swamp.  We could see the trail emerge again about fifty feet ahead.  I didn’t want to turn around and retrace our steps.  It appeared that we might be able to cross without sinking to our knees in puddles.

“Are you ready to cross the swamp, Dad?”

“Just wait til I put my swimming trunks on.”

After stepping on what I thought to be solid ground I sank to my ankle in soft mud.  I chose a better route and we made our way across the mud flats.  Ahead, a bit to the right, I could see the barns and silos at Wagner Farm.  I remembered we had crossed the river earlier and that we were now on the wrong side of the river. I also knew the bridge ahead was washed out.  Last time we crossed the marshy fields that led to Wagner Farm, Dad had fallen face first into a giant marsh mound. To the right was a field of marshy mounds, behind us were the mud flats.  Looking to the left I saw a giant tree fallen across the river and decided it might be a better option.  Dad was growing tired and I didn’t want to push my luck.  I pushed it anyway, but not by turning back.

“Are you up for it, Dad?  Are you up for crossing the river on that fallen tree?”

“Sure.”

Already I knew that I had stepped into the realm of foolhardiness.  Already I decided not to take a photo of the tree were were about to use as a bridge.  I didn’t want to be disowned by my siblings for endangering our father.

The first three feet of tree was surrounded in brambles, giant thorns along thin, bouncy branches.  I took almost five minutes carefully separating the brambles, securing them on either side of the fallen trunk to allow us clear passage.  I led the way to test the footing.  After two steps along the trunk I stepped down to a pile of leaves that covered a somewhat stable mound of dirt and branches that had washed up near the bank and were held captive by the fallen tree. I turned to give Dad a hand to balance as he stepped onto the trunk and over two small branches that crossed the main trunk.

One foot over…. excellent.  The second foot was in the air when some of the brambles let loose, caught his jacket and threw him off balance.  He was headed into the river on the far side of the tree trunk.  I had hold of one hand and grabbed his jacket with the other, pulling him toward me, redirecting his fall.  More brambles let loose, slapping my face and driving thorns into my cheek. S-l-o-w-l-y he finished his fall and lay safely on top of me, my back resting on the tree trunk.  Not a great time for a photo shoot.

“Are you okay, Dad?”

“Yup …. how about you?”

That was the worst of it.  We made our way across the river safely, climbed up the bank and found the trail that ran along the river on the other side where the car was parked.

“I’m glad you’re not a wuss, Dad.”  I had to explain what a wuss is.

Trailside Bench

We saw a bench ahead on the trail and felt we deserved a bit of a rest.  I wish I could say I wont’ take chances like that again.  The truth is, I probably will.

Around a curve, a couple hundred yards further, I discovered that the washed out bridge is not the only bridge that ties Wagner Farm to Glen Hurst Open Space.

An easier way to cross the river

Back at the car, we took a few minutes to write and draw.

Glen Hurst Open Space Trail Head

Time passed and I asked Dad how he was doing with his writing.  Turns out he had copied everything written on the signs tacked to the Trail Head boards.

“Dad…. after our huge adventure of crossing the river isn’t there something you can think to say about it?”

We crossed the river

By walking carefully on a fallen tree.

We slogged through the marsh

Knees were kept dry.  I didn’t fall,

For I leaned on Chris’s shoulder.

She “saved the day”

The sky is still quite clear.

We are seated in the front seat of her parked car

Both doors are WIDE OPEN.

there is may a sound and no clouds.

No clouds

Sh – Sh.

Sh.

Our muddy footprints back at Chelsea

Read Full Post »

Nothing was certain about today. I gave myself extra time to get down the mountain knowing I would be dodging downed trees, drooping wires and trucks guiding men through the air to remove limbs wrenched from the trunks of trees by branches overburdened with snow clinging to leaves that had not yet fallen to the ground.

Unable to stand tall under the weight of the snow

Before meeting Jane at Benny’s for lunch, Dad and I stopped by the house to check the damage from the bizarre snow storm that hit the Northeast last weekend.  Fortunately, though trees were torn apart on every side of us, Dad’s trees fared rather well, except for the tree that supported one end of his hammock.

Taking down the hammock

We had a lovely lunch with Jane at Benny’s, arriving just in time to see Helen, too.  Hugs all around as well as delicious soups and salad.  For the first time in five years, Helen and Benny didn’t lose electricity during a storm.  Naturally, they worked non-stop to feed the neighborhood of hunger folks without power.

After lunch Dad and I returned to the house to clean up branches and go for a walk.  Along the way we met three of Dad’s neighbors and ended up in rather long chats each time, standing in the middle of the road without a care in the world.  What a great place Spring Run still is.  I loved growing up there, free to roam the woods, play late into the summer nights with neighborhood kids and sleep outside gazing up at the milky way.

Limbs Everywhere

Memory is so strange.  Every house we passed, Dad would remark, “What a lot of limbs!”  as if we hadn’t just passed a dozen other huge piles of broken branches and sawed off limbs.

"Lots of limbs!"

As we passed one of the houses he asked me who used to live there.  “The Carswells”, I answered.  “Ah…. Susan… no, Suzie.”  And that was it.  No more was said.

Eventually we made our way back to the house and marveled at the beauty of the property drenched in late autumn light.

Autumn Light

The afternoon was still young and the warmth of the sun made it impossible for us to leave.  We found ourselves on the bench Dad made for Mom.  He had carved a heart in the wood with their initials inside.  Mom’s ashes are now part of the ground surrounding the bench.  Sitting side by side, I handed dad his green sketchbook and we began to draw and paint together.

Dad's Leaf Drawing

Earlier in the day, while sitting in the waiting room at Dr. Frisoli’s, I reviewed the concept of contour drawing.  As we began our session in the backyard, we discussed the purpose of contour drawing.  The idea of drawing anything without concern over how the final drawing looks on the page definitely caused Dad to make a few new connections in his brain.  He shared with me his own view of a more sensible way to approach drawing for a better end result. It was a civilized and respectful conversation between two people with completely different points of view.

Drawing on the Backyard Bench

Being the good sport that he is, he agreed to give it another try.

Samples for Dad

As Dad focused on a few more drawings of leaves I added color to the samples I had drawn for him in my own sketchbook.  When he saw the color he was thrilled that the scribbles I had made had come to life.  He was so excited that he agreed to try adding color to his own scribbled leaves.

Dad's autumn leaves about to be painted

Not knowing where or how to begin.

Where's My Water?

What a thrill it was for me to see Dad painting.  The tools are simple, a few strips of Peerless Watercolor Papers taped into a clear cd case and a water brush.  A water brush is a brush similar to a fountain pen except that it has a brush on the end rather than a metal nib.  Instead of filling it with ink, it is filled with water.  Dad knew he was painting with watercolor paint.  After every mark he would hesitate, look on either side of him and ask “Chris, where is my water?”

“It’s inside of the brush, Dad.”

“Oh”

Another stroke of color would be carefully applied to his leaf drawing and he would reach his brush back to tiny palette of paint only to hesitate, look around and ask “Chris, where is my water?”

“It’s inside of the brush, Dad.”

“Oh.  Do I squeeze the brush like this to get it out?”

Dad's beautiful leaves

He did such a beautiful job both drawing and painting his leaves. Such progress!  I wish all my students were as fearless as Dad.

Too soon it was time to head back to Chelsea.

Dad by the Beech Tree

There is always time for one more photograph of the Beech Tree…

The Beech Tree

Or maybe even two………

Read Full Post »

In spite of the rain Dad and I headed to Lord Stirling Park to picnic among the aromatic mints and lavender.

View from the Scent Garden

The morning started with juggled rescheduling of plans.  I regret that we canceled meeting Corina and Chloe at Watchung Reservation.  I knew my tolerance level was diminished due to my lingering head cold.  I couldn’t count on myself to keep four soggy walkers in good spirits.  It turned out that the rain stopped when we arrived at Lord Stirling Park.

Before our excursion to the swamp, I cleaned Dad’s room a bit, sorting through piles of paper that accumulated on his floor and tables.  Along with the abundance of napkins and score sheets games Dad continues to win, I found several books that he had borrowed from the Chelsea library.  I found twenty-two books to be exact, each with a napkin marking his place, somewhere between page fifteen and page thirty of each book.

Dad was baffled by the pile of books, not knowing where they had come from.  He sorted through the pile eight times before we carried them upstairs to return them to the library where he sorted through them another three times.  The problem was that one of them had been inscribed “Happy Birthday, Dad.  Love, Mark, Joanne and Chris.”  He was sure the book was his because it said “Happy Birthday, Dad” and because one of the names was Chris.  It didn’t seem to matter that he doesn’t have any children or mates of children who are named Mark or Joanne.  The only names that mattered were Dad and Chris.  He kept asking me how the books got into his room if they weren’t his.  Eventually, we were able to leave the stack of books behind and left for Lord Stirling Park.

In spite of my impaired patience I felt optimistic about the day.  A birthday card from Jane and Dad had been placed on Dad’s table to welcome me.  I opened it to discover that Dad had written a wonderful birthday poem for me. There is even a bit of rhyming in it! (Thank you, Jane!)

It is a very special scene

The date of October nineteen,

For on that date some years ago

A brand new life was to be seen.

Candles were lit

On that day ever since

to celebrate

That very special birth.

And may it be

for many years more

A great life to celebrate

From shore to shore and shining shore.

Love, Dad

I am still smiling inside, treasuring such a special gift.  I have noticed that it is increasingly difficult for Dad to put words together on paper.  I knew that our opportunities today were limited due to the rain-soaked benches that we would ordinarily use for drawing and writing.  I did bring plastic garbage bags to sit on, but the mosquitoes were ravenous and disturbed our moments of creative solitude.

Dad gently rubbing the scented leaves

Though it has been about two months since we visited the Scent Garden, Dad immediately began rubbing the leaves and smelling them.

Yellow leaves

The yellow and red of the autumn leaves made up for the lost color of faded flowers.

Sh

Was it a creature

Dashing across the path?

Or was it just a leaf

Shoved by the breeze?

I caught only a glimpse of it

Whatever it was is gone

All is still

Silence reigns on.

The Track Garden

On our previous visits, we missed seeing the Track Garden.  Dad’s response to the round markers along the perimeter brought to mind the first trip to the Museum of Natural History with Alexis, Nicole and Michael.  Michael was probably 4 and the girls almost 6.  After initially being awestruck by the dioramas of the animals the children began to question how the animals had ended up in the museum, especially the mothers with their young, a difficult question to answer gently.  Though a bit dismayed, we continued through the dioramas, making our way downstairs to the aquatic scenes.  At the far end of the room, one of the windows displayed a sponge diver………

When Dad saw the circular markers around the edge of the garden I noticed the same expression that had appeared on the faces of the children when they saw the sponge diver behind the glass.

“Do you think they’re all buried in the garden beneath the plants?” Dad asked.  The question would not have been quite so unsettling if it hadn’t been for the marker directly in front of us.  A squirrel under the bush is one thing…. a human is quite another matter.

Another view of the Track Garden

We left the Track Garden behind and ventured into the swamp.

Off to Oz

The wet leaves upon the boardwalk caused slippery walking conditions.

The straight, tall trees

As we walked, Dad recalled walking along the wooded trails in Idaho with his friend Merle Bunker while fighting forest fires one summer during college.  Merle and Dad were lab partners.  Bunker was the last of the “B” names and Carter was the first of the “C” names.  They became lifelong friends.  Dad talked about the “windfall” logs being so abundant that they walked along them, not stepping on the ground for a good half mile.

Twisted Trunk Tree

The trees stood naked in the misty forest.  Without their frocks of leaves, the shapes of limbs, darkened by the recent rain, stood our starkly against the blanket of gold and brown.

Dad finding his stride

After oiling his joints, Dad rolled up his sleeves and picked up his pace.  We walked about three times the distance I had expected.  Not once did we sit and take a break.  “I need to do that more often.” he remarked as we got into the car to return to Chelsea.

Searching for words

Back in his room, there was one more poem to be written.  This time, the words did not come.

There is always next time…..

Read Full Post »