Rescued Stray

The stray came into my life on an early summer day. I noticed it at the beginning of my morning walk. It nagged at me. I stopped on my way past as I headed home on the return portion of my loop.

Should I? Do I have room? Will it bring a disease?

I don’t need it.  What’s the worst that could happen?

I passed it by, turned around a dozen yards later, and carried it home.

The first summer it lived on the patio very much as when I found it. In the fall I felt like an adoptive mother as I moved it inside. Now, three winters, a larger pot, and two major prunings later, it’s part of the household.

Green Stray Rescue
Green Stray Rescue


Oh! You thought I found an animal. Abandoned next to a dumpster I think I saved a victim of a move out of the neighborhood.


Showing New Life

What’s your first image at the phrase “evergreen tree”?

This daughter of the Upper Midwest and former resident of the Pacific Northwest calls up many species. Spruce. Pine. Fir. Cedar.

I think of the Black Hills Spruce planted when I was in 4-H. The first few years I towered over it. Then it shot up, outgrew the number of Christmas lights we owned, and continued until it stood taller than the two story farmhouse.

I remember the Douglas Fir and Western Cedar plentiful across the Cascade Mountains. From a distance they made a pattern of variegated green stretching for miles.

Then in St. Louis I encountered something new. Several times in the fall I thought the poor evergreens in the area were suffering from a disease. They turned brown and bare — not like evergreens I’d known before.

One day, during a visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the puzzle was solved. I happened to read the informational sign and began to understand the peculiar annual cycle of the Bald Cypress. It’s spring. Soon they will disguise themselves as others with short, green needles on well spaced branches.

Reminder to self:  Read informational signs more often.

Evergreen showing new life.
Evergreen showing new life.

Clean Dirt

Also known as “good clean dirt”.

My first inclination is to credit my mother with the phrase. But more than likely she picked it up from one of her peers.

We managed to bring dirt in many forms and varieties into the farmhouse when I was a child. “Clean dirt” mother complained about the least.

Brought from the fields or the garden, this dirt represented work. And the promise of a crop. During the years we knocked pounds of it off our shoes at the back steps. Another batch went outside on wash day – when dad’s overalls would be carried out, the cuffs unrolled, and the garment given a good shaking. But bits and pieces still made it into the house – some were swept up. Others rinsed down the drain when our dust decorated faces were washed.

A few more days and I’ll go push my hands into my own tiny patch of “good clean dirt”. My preliminary work confirms the earthworms survived the winter in large number. The robins and I smile.

I like them for their work in the garden. The robins like them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Clean Dirt ready for planting.
Clean Dirt ready for planting.

Glimpsing the Future???

Twice. Three years apart. The first time I passed it off as something I’d done during when starting vacation photos after the camera had rested for weeks. (Or was it months that time?)

The second time, less than a month ago, the electrons went all distracted between two photos taken mere minutes apart.

According to my vacation photos, I visited Shiloh National Military Park in May, 2206. When??? I don’t know about you — but this woman born mid-twentieth century doesn’t expect to be walking on earth in 2206.

Problem dealt with and camera brought back to the correct date after return from that trip. It was a lovely trip – sightseeing, reunion with friends, and new experiences.

During the recent visit of that out-of-town company, I visited a local college campus and photographed some of the statues of Native Americans scattered around the edges of a water feature. It wasn’t until the next day, after we’d taken the photos of each other at my house that I noticed anything wrong.

My, I looked good from my age. Let’s see. October 2037 is 24 years into the future? And I don’t look older than in a group photo taken in April 2013.

They’re back in the present now. Here’s hoping that the electrons will mind their manners and stay on the road, within the speed limit.

Check the date!
Check the date!

Spring Cleaning

Ask any of my friends and they’ll confirm that cleaning house is low on my list of priorities. Usually I wait until it’s past optional and firm into the category of necessary.

Now don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not a complete slob. I keep the dishes done – sort of. They are very quiet and patient as they wait for enough friends for me consider the whole group worthy of my time. And I do laundry and put things into their place. About the only thing you’ll find scattered in my house is books. Non-fiction reference book that I’m reading a chapter a day. A fiction story to escape to a world where all comes out well in the end. Or a biography that struck my fancy. And don’t forget the stray magazine or book discussion reading.

But a short time ago I made a promise. A promise to clean house.

It’s amazing what activities out-of-town guests will prompt.

It did me good to remove the winter grime from places that get skipped in the quick cleaning performed during recent months. The idea that things were clean and orderly gave an added bit of ease to the visit.

The guests are gone now. The extra laundry is done. It’s been how long since I scrubbed that???? Do I have to clean it already?



Over! Done! Accomplished!

The Saturday before you read this the 5K run/walk with thousands of people was completed. A member of our group that’s been training together suggested a carpool to the event. So four of us rode together, exchanged greetings with a few more wearing the same shirt during the wait before the official start, and started after the serious runners in the front rows.

We had tall, short, young, old, serious, and casual participants. Middle school students involved in a “Read, Write, & Run” program moved along with adults of varying decades and ambitious parents pushing babies in strollers.

Our route wound through a portion of the largest park in St. Louis. We passed familiar structures, signs to the zoo and various museums, and one group in ARMY T-shirts doing exercises. We climbed up slopes and then descended, turned corners and stayed on the correct road thanks to portable barriers, park rangers, and volunteers.

Welcome sights: a cup of water at the mid-point. The colorful markers at each mile. The assurance when looking back – around a corner or walking backward for a few yards – that I was neither first nor last.

Goal accomplished!  Today is good weather. Think I’ll go for a walk of less than 5K.

Walking in the middle of the herd.
Walking in the middle of the herd.



Welcome Sight

Cool.  Cloudy. Brown.

Yes, those were the weather watch words for March in St. Louis.

Where’s spring? Didn’t the vernal equinox come and go?

Oh, that’s right. Mother Nature wanted to keep us alert. Delay the storage of winter boots, coats and mittens by sending us that blanket of snow.

Advantage to late March snow — yes, there is one.  It tends to be a short term visitor.

So a week after snowplows, shovels and boots were appropriate the ground is bare brown again. I walk along the trail, getting my steps for the day and building up my stamina.

Spring visitors raise the spirits of walkers, runners, and bicyclists.

Yes, we will have spring this year. These will lead. Others will follow.

Sign of hope.Sign of spring.
Sign of hope.
Sign of spring.

Dawn Song

Race day will be here soon. Our group gathered for a final run/walk together. Training for our various events translate that to a common starting place and time.

We gathered early, a time of lights required, quiet streets, and yawns. The weather was mild for very early spring. I wore a coat, scarf, and gloves for walking speed. Runners favored two light layers, hats, and gloves.

Today it was the flat trail, on the abandoned railbed. Six runners training for a half marathon plus me, walking the 5K. Four runners started ahead of me, one passed a hundred yards later, while the remaining one chose her own route on a side trail.

Dawn sneaked today behind a solid layer of clouds. Near the first post (they mark the half miles) I heard geese. There they were — a trio honking their way across a sky trail. Few humans shared the trail this morning and soon I was listening to the birds exchange morning greetings among the still sleeping shrubs and trees.

Robins, cardinals, sparrows, and others with distinctive notes called and replied. No woodpeckers with their code this morning. The birds were active, crossing the trail or changing perches in bursts of energy.

They sang a song of hope. Spring, warmer days, and less need for coats if on the way. The race is soon. Hope that I will finish with my head held high in the middle of the herd.



White Over White

Dress for the concert is black over black. Employees are to wear red over khaki.

Simple instructions. Easy to understand. A black top over black pants or skirt in the first case. A red shirt over khaki or tan pants in the second.

Mother Nature creates her own color combinations. Green over gray describes moss over rock. Brown over black? Think mud on asphalt.

Two weeks before you’ll read this post Mother Nature brought out her winter paint set. She ignored the passing of the vernal equinox and showed mere mortals who was in charge.

The moisture is welcome. The soil and deep rooted plants need many small batches to build up reserves after a dry year. And I appreciate the beauty. I’ll even try to constrain my complaints as I wander my house, eager to get outside for a walk.

White Over White
White Over White